Dogs & neighbors

I awoke today to find cards slid under the front door of my flat.  Each addressed to Leo or to Leo and Tracey.

Leo is my five-year old Whippet. He was viciously attacked by a Pit mix in the Fields, an off-leash dog park two blocks from our home in Portland’s Pearl District.

Dogs, like children, jump start the process of getting to know your neighbors.  In my experience, dogs  even more so than children.  Children, after all, are heavily booked with after-school activities – keeping parents on the run to places outside the neighborhood whereas dogs provide occasions to walk the neighborhood, conversing with those you meet on the street.  At least in an urban environment it works this way.  Without a fenced backyard, one walks with one’s dog(s) and a proper supply of doggie do bags. If you are at all social, you easily have two or three exchanges per walk, of which there are 4 to 5 a day.  Do the math…walking a dog can be your entire social life and an enviable one at that!

Sunday night while Leo was in surgery at Dove Lewis, I felt alone in my adopted city and longed for the yard around our former house in Oklahoma – a safe haven where Leo could chase birds and squirrels and his only brushes were with broken tree limbs.  But Leo is a city dog now and he has made his mark in his urban setting…perhaps more than me, The Whippet Lady, companion of Leo and his sister Bliss.

Leo will literally stop dead on the sidewalk if a passerby fails to acknowledge him.  There’s not an ounce of ego involved.  In every instance Leo has made eye contact, lifted his nose, raised his ears…he expects (and, I think, deserves) a return greeting.   I tug at his leash when the offender, a snob, has passed.  He quickly returns to his mission of greeting those ahead on the path.  I love this dog.  He has taught me so much.

It has long been observed that dogs and owners resemble each other.  I used to joke that I got Whippets in the hope I’d become lean, sleek and graceful – like Leo and Bliss.  Now I hope they will keep me sensitive, forgiving, accepting and trusting despite what comes on a Sunday in the park.

Always, Trix


2 Responses to “Dogs & neighbors”

  • LKP Says:

    Poor, sweet Leo. Dogs are just the best. My mom met more people with her Fifi Marie from the one year living in Brooklyn than I’ve met in all 8 years, and that is not an exaggeration. They make us better people. Best wishes from NYC.

  • Trix Says:

    LKP I grinned reading this! Reminded me of when I was visiting Portland before the move here. Told people I felt like a parent at Disneyland WITHOUT children as I toured without the Whippets. Portland is THE dog city! And you are right about making us better people, to say nothing of dogs helping us live longer… lower blood pressure, less depression… Have you taken to walking Fifi yet?? xo

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