Today is Riley Roo’s birthday.
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.
(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.
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.
(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.)