There are many dogs in our part of the city. Before the insanity, I loved how every time I looked out the window I spotted a different dog. There is the prize-winning Sheltie a few houses down, the German Shepherd on the corner with the booming bark, the plucky beagle in the cul-de-sac with his nose stuck to the ground, and I can’t forget Charlie the Yorkie who lives next door. In the spring and summer months, there is a parade in front of our house all day long.
Some of these dogs I have gotten to know very well. I know the ones who love to lick fingers and the ones who would rather keep their distance.
The shih tzu who is always off-leash is practically perfect. His owner just brought home a new puppy who looks exactly like him. When I see the three of them coming up the sidewalk, I always smile.
There is another trio that I am usually less happy to see. A quiet man often walks his shepherd and boxer mix around the same time of day. I have yet to hear this man speak. His dogs are equally quiet – unless they are behind a fence. I try to keep my distance as there is something about the way he holds the leashes that gives me pause. I have no doubt they are lovely dogs. Perhaps not ones who would enjoy another dog’s intrusion into their world.
I could go on with many different stories. The woman with the miniature poodle who once told me my dog was the worst case she had ever seen. The flat-coated retriever with a waggy tail who would make a great friend for Shiva if they were ever out at the same time. The young golden retriever who play-bows at every dog who passes. Every single one is unqiue and so is my reaction to their presence on the sidewalk. Some are friends and some we just choose not to mess with.
Even though I don’t know most of their names, I think about them often. I worry when I haven’t seen them for awhile.
A few weeks ago I saw new people moving in to the house on the corner with the little white dog. As far as I knew the house had not been for sale. An older couple lived there at one point. The woman had even asked me for training advice every now and then. I had given her the name and phone number of our trainer. The dog was adorable, just bored after being tied up outside all day. I really hope he is okay. If something happened to the couple – I know the woman’s husband was quite ill – I hope the dog found a new home. He had the cutest curly tail and was the first dog in our neighbourhood Shiva approached without barking. That little guy will be forever wrapped in my memories.
I also haven’t seen the elderly golden retriever who is never on a leash. His owner used to walk him slowly around the neighbourhood every single morning. The poor dog was unfortunately overweight and as such always looking for treats. It was very difficult not to oblige. Back in the day, the dog was a source of great irritation as he would always run across the street to greet my reactive puppy. “He’s friendly!” the woman would shout.
He was too old to ever be a friend to Shiva, but I miss him. I hope we see him again.
There is another older dog I haven’t seen for some time.Frost, the husky. His owner is always so nervous even though he is so incredibly patient and sweet. I try to tell her she has nothing to worry about but I don’t think she listens. I hope he is okay.
It’s almost a community within a community. The regulars all nod and smile, even as we struggle to keep our dogs from killing each other. There is some sort of unspoken mutual understanding between us. These people aren’t friends, not really. At most we spend a minute or two chatting before moving on. We only ever talk about our dogs. But at the same time it feels like we are connected through our pets. If I move away, I know I will think of these other dogs and wonder how they are, what they are up to. More than I will ever think of the people attached to the other end of the leash.