Dog Days

Today is Riley Roo’s birthday.

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Being a dog owner in New York is a weird thing.  People are nuts about their dogs.  I know most of the people in my apartment building by their dogs’ names, not by their given names.

I think it is really easy to forget, in a city like ours, that dogs are dogs.

Mine is a capital-D-Dog.  He sleeps in a crate.  (Which, admittedly, I made into my nightstand because I cannot stand to have him far away).  He is not allowed on the furniture.

I do feed him from the table, but that’s MY bad habit, not his.

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(Or my Dad’s bad habit, depending.  Also featured is Cousin Henry, the Welsh Springer Spaniel.)

To be honest, I don’t have any great or pithy thoughts on being a New York City dog owner.  It’s just what I know.  Having a dog in New York City is such a part of my experience and identity that when people try to convince me of the cost, and the hassle, I look at them as if they are from Mars.  I simply don’t know city living any other way.

That said, though, I don’t know a whole lot about anything.  I’ve spent three years raising this precious beast, and he has spent the same three years humbling me.  For instance, I trained him to ring a bell when he wanted to go out, and then I learned to ignore him because he began to ring it whenever he wanted anything from me.

Except for the time he began ringing it ferociously, and I ignored him to my detriment, so he then shat on the floor.  It was a one-time only, but he made his point.

And there was the time I was so proud of myself for some personal or professional accomplishment, and I found I was needlessly bragging.  Then I came home to a puddle of dog barf, and a roll of shredded paper towels.  It was then clear that I could be a big-shot away from the house, but at home, I was always just going to be plain ol’ Meredith.

Humbling, really.

Maybe these are not lessons unique to New York — indeed, I think they are things that are universal to dog-lovers.

But I am lucky to live in a city of people who love dogs.  And I am luckier to have spent the past three years in the company of this animal — who found me one summer afternoon when he was a tiny pup, and without whom, I would be utterly lost.

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(Throughout the month of June, I’ll be writing a series of New York-related posts, and/or inviting some friends to guest post about their New York experiences, to celebrate my eight years in New York City.)

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