Snapshots

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.

27 thoughts on “Snapshots

  1. Great post! I so get it… I do the same thing… Where I live, I often see a lot of people walking – some with dogs, some heading to the boardwalk. I only remember those with the dogs, and only speak to the ones with their dogs. I never know the people’s names, but I can tell you all the dog’s names 🙂

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    • It’s a funny phenomenon among dog owners, I think. “Oh, that’s Otto’s owner” or “I was talking to the people with the Bouvier today…” Even in our close-knit agility circle I sometimes forget the other handlers’ names! (It also happens with some bloggers. Sshh!)

      I wonder if it is the same with parents and kids.

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    • It is like a separate world. We don’t know each other, and yet we have watched them change and grow. I love when I see another dog who used to have problems suddenly get more confident. It’s awesome!

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  2. When I ived in civilizations there were dogs we met on a daily/regular basis and when one was MIA we, ok I, would wonder and hope for the best. Here in dirtille, it’s the ferals and the coyotes (a 3-legged we haven’t seen in a month or more, now). We see some regularly, usually in packs. When one of the pack, or the whole pack disappears I grieve. for the life they led, and the life they didn’t live.

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    • That is sad. I would grieve as well. It’s hard sometimes, when you let yourself care and get emotionally involved. But I think it would be harder not to.

      I can’t stop thinking of that little white dog who just disappeared. Maybe the next time I see someone outside the house I will ask if they know. I would have taken that dog myself if necessary.

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  3. Lovely post, Kristine, and a great tribute to all the dogs who cross your path. I agree that dogs and their owners form a whole community of their own, it’s the same with us. Some dogs are George’s friends, some dogs aren’t and we’ve learnt to stay away from them. Regardless of this, we do think of and talk about all of them once in a while. There are people we always talk to when we’re out with the dogs, yet I’ve never known their names. We know all the dogs’ names, though, and their humans are referred to as “George’s mum”, “Murphy’s dad”, etc. Funny, really. I bet I wouldn’t even recognise some people if I met them when they haven’t got the dog with them.

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  4. I wouldn’t recognize the people without their dogs! Sad but true.

    Many dogs have disappeared off our street in the last year, most were old dogs that died. One just moved away a few days ago. Thank goodness. It was one of those that would charge up to the gate and bark, sending Georgia into a frenzy. We know the ones we like to avoid too :p though I’m guessing that, for many other dogowners, Georgia would be the one to avoid!

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    • Hahaha! Shiva too, don’t you worry. I am used to the looks and the street-crossings. Can’t say I blame them!

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  5. I just wanted to say this was such a beautiful post… maybe I’m just being hormonal but it was really lovely. I really do think we are a community within a community …. there was an unexpected loss of a young dog where I used to live and we all pulled together and made a donation to a breed specific rescue in the dog’s name… we all felt the absence of this dog and it was hard for us to just do nothing…to me that’s a lovely community.

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    • That’s so sad, I’m sorry. But how lovely that everyone came together to do something to support the owners. One of the best things about the dog community is how nice and understanding and supportive most people are. It’s lovely to know that in the darkest times, there will be people there to lend a shoulder. Thanks for sharing that thought.

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  6. I can really relate to wondering how dogs you haven’t seen for a while. I find myself thinking about past foster dogs a lot — wondering if they’re enjoying their new home, if the people were right for them, etc.

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    • I am sure it is even harder with foster dogs! Some people must stay in touch, send photos and updates. But not everyone. That would be very difficult.

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  7. What a fab post and so true. I know the names of loads of dogs int he village, but haven’t a clue what their owners names are:)

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    • That’s a good point. When I walk on my own, which is rare these days, I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the people around me. It’s too bad. I guess I have my dog to thank for my new social skills as well!

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  8. I love this. I recently moved from a community where we knew all the dogs and I wonder if those families are still there, walking their same walks, or where life has taken them. I hope all those dogs you mentioned are okay, too. So sad when you stop seeing them around.

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    • It is sad. Especially when I walk by their houses. It’s hard not to wonder. What happened to the dog with the injured back legs? Where is Max? I probably should let it go but it isn’t easy. They became companions too, in a way.

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  9. Lovely post. You created such a vivid picture of the dogs and people of your neighborhood.

    After years of having reactive dogs, I was really looking forward to being able to connect easily with other dogs and their people on the street once we got Honey. Perhaps find someone interested in supporting each other in training. But I haven’t really found the local equivalents of people in blog world.

    I’d be happy to help someone with a reactive dog by walking Honey by at a distance over and over until they learned to relax. And I’d love to find someone willing to let me practice calm greetings over and over without Honey going all love ballistic. I suspect lots of my blogging friends would be interested in such a thing but I haven’t been able to find those connections locally.

    It makes me a little sad.

    I guess I’ll enjoy observing my neighbors and my dogs and hope to find that other crazy person who hopes for more with their dog too.

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  10. We are exactly the same way. We are so familiar with all the doggers in our hood and worry when we don’t see them for awhile. I was never a dog person before Gus am so glad I’m part of the dog-world.

    I hope the little white dog is okay…that’s the kind of thing I would worry about too. 🙂

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  11. What a lovely post! I wish we had more of that here. We live in a small community and not too many people walk their dogs around here, although I know my neighbor dogs pretty well. It’s rather funny, but of the six houses near us that have dogs, five of them have dogs that were all born to one litter about eight years ago. I know they’re all from the same litter, because several of the owners told me so, but a lot of them look nothing alike.

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  12. I know I’m 10 days late (I’ll NEVER catch up!) but I have to comment… if you scroll through my archives (June or July 2010), you’ll see a post called “Unfinished Business.” It’s what happens when you get attached to the owner as well…

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