Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Benefits of Walking a Dog

New Yorkers love their dogs. I absolutely adore “my” current dog—Stella. I call her Stella Bella or Stellaluna (one of my favorite children’s books). She and I have become great buddies and I look forward to our walks.

Stella is slow. She takes her time “reading” each tree and fence and hydrant. Having a dog gives a perfect cover to “gawk” and scope out the great houses. If I were just standing there alone—looking up at someone’s gorgeous door, or staring at what they’d done to their little courtyard, or watching two interesting old kerchiefed ladies talking on the corner—everyone would think I was being creepy and would look at me askance. Having a dog lends a certain amount of invisibility—you just blend in to the background. I’m not eavesdropping, I’m just waiting for my dog to pee.

I’ve started to recognize the other neighborhood dogs and their people. There’s a comfort to that. It makes me feel like I’m part of the community. I have little conversations with these people. We greet each other by our dogs’ names. “How is Stella this morning?” the man with the pug always asks me.

Stella makes people smile. Even though she’s older, there’s something cute and spry about her energy. I like that having her with me makes it look like I live here. Oh, wait a minute...for the next three months, I DO!

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