It’s Spring here in New York.
Along with the occasional flower-inducing sneeze, I’ve come down with some sort of nasty infection. It itches. It burns. It passes through me in waves and then leaves me feeling empty. Here’s the devil of which I speak:
You see, I have a bad case of Dog Owner Envy. D.O.E. And there’s nothing quite like Spring – getting out for long walks at the park and watching dogs chase butterflies and sniff other dogs’ questionable areas – to bring out the worst of it. The green in my heart grows along with the grass. Every time I pass a happy dog and her blissful mama or papa, I have to resist the urge the reach out to the dog, rub her belly, kiss her on the nose, or talk to her in a high-pitched voice that would embarrass even Minnie Mouse on helium. (Yes, I’m one of those that speaks to dogs as though they understand anything more than rudimentary English. So when, after I’m through scratching their ears and rubbing their bellies, I say, “Nice to meet you and have a great day,” please know that I’m not talking to the human.)
I have a long history with dogs. I had several growing up in suburbia, all beloved. There, “taking the dog out” meant letting him out into the back yard. I’m ashamed to admit this, but our dogs never really got walked every day; putting leashes on them or taking them somewhere in the car was a Big Deal. And it showed. They were terrible on leash and in cars, and often went crazy when they saw another dog. These were the days before the Dog Whisperer and his gentle-yet-admonishing incantation of “exercise, discipline, and affection.” Then, we thought affection was enough.
Today, I see city dogs that are socialized, well behaved, and given plentiful exercise, despite whatever small spaces they inhabit. They are calm among the city noise and distractions. They get entire areas of parks all to themselves to run around. They go on play dates. They respond to discipline. And they are clearly loved. And in return, they provide what anyone suffering from Dog Owner Envy wants: love, joy, and trust in their purest forms, untouched by the same issues that plague those of us with more developed frontal lobes.
The only cure for D.O.E., of course, is D.O.G. And the prognosis is negative. Aside from the fact that my apartment building tends to give frowny faces to dogs (even though some people do have them), my desire for a large breed dog would likely also cause problems. This is an actual conversation I had with a real estate agent while looking at apartments late last year, before we found our current one:
Me: So this place allows dogs?
Agent: Yes. Isn’t that great?
Me: Yes! I’ve been dying to get a Great Dane.
Agent: (long pause) No.
Agent: You can’t have a Great Dane.
Me: But I thought you just said –
Agent: No. That’s crazy. Why on earth would you want a mini-horse?
I also have a cat. Meet Leia:
She is unladylike almost always, has a scratchy meow as though she spends her days drinking whiskey, and has the attitude of a world-weary bordello madame, but I love her to bits. She is also almost 15 years old, and I know she wouldn’t be able to handle an annoying yet lovable dog companion at this stage. She would wonder why I chose to torture her so during her twilight years.
So, for now, I will wait. I will live vicariously, petting other people’s dogs, and taking photos to share with all of you.
* All images c. Erin KLG and KB Photography.