I’m a dog person. Always have been. I fell in love with them the moment my family surprised me with a puffball of a Pekingese for my 5th birthday. Leo was the bestest dog ever. We grew up together, though technically, I suppose I did most of the growing. He never weighed more than ten pounds and was barely a foot tall. Plus, most of that height was fur. Yet for a little dog, he had a lot of love, and to this day I can’t think of him without getting a wee bit weepy.
It would be great to have a dog again, but there’s always a good reason – aka excuse – why I can’t. First it was college. Then a cross-country move. Grad school. And now an apartment that doesn’t allow dogs… even though my landlord lets his sister have two annoying yappers that go Cujo on anyone who gets within a twenty foot radius. The only reason why I have yet to “accidentally” step on or kick one of them is because I’m afraid they might “coincidentally” raise the rent on me the following week.
But fo’ reals, I love dogs. That’s why I’m always happy to dog-sit for a friend if I can. Everyone I know has pretty awesome pets, so it doesn’t take much beyond a few slobbery licks and a look from those big puppy dog eyes to break down Auntie Anna. They get a responsible caretaker, and I get snuggle time… sometimes against their will.
Curly Sue* is one of those dogs that makes you involuntarily go “aww…” when you see her. She’s a rescue, so though her breeding is a question mark, most likely it’s Basset Hound mixed with Corgi mixed with adorableness. When I babysat her last weekend, not a walk could be completed without at least one person asking, “What kind of dog is that?” Curly Sue is also a big sniffer of things – trees, flowers, unidentifiable smells emanating from some unknown source toward which she would lead me – so often our walks would last upwards of an hour. This meant that I would many times be stopped long enough to have any and all passersby interrogate me as to her genetic background. Even though she isn’t my dog, I just pretended that she was and happily answered their questions. (Mostly with information that I made up.)
Moreover, Curly Sue is keenly interested in other canines. The moment she spots a dog, she freezes and stares them down for many, many minutes at a time. That’s not to say she isn’t friendly. On the contrary, while other dogs that we encountered would sometimes flip out when they saw her, Curly Sue would quietly assess the situation by sniffing their rears and then be on her way. The problem is when she sees a dog too far away to sniff. If she can’t get up close and personal, she’s not satisfied and will stubbornly stand there until the dog is out of eyesight… and sometimes not even then. Curly Sue also weighs sixty pounds, so once she zeros in on another dog, there’s no moving her until she is good and ready to be moved. No amount of coercion or leash tugging will get that pup to walk unless she agrees.
So naturally Curly Sue and I were in the middle of crossing the street when she spotted another dog two blocks down. Upon spying her fellow canine, Curly Sue simply stopped dead in her tracks and stared ahead. Uh oh. First I tried mild coaxing…
“Come on, sweetie. Let’s go.”
No response. Then gentle urgency. “Curly Sue, honey, we gotta go.”
No response. Then insistence mixed with fear. “Curly Sue, now! We have to go now!”
Realizing that if we didn’t move in the next five seconds we would both be at the mercy of an oncoming Kia, I had no other choice but to drag Curly Sue to the sidewalk. Given that numerous other dog owners were in the vicinity and watching us, I felt like the biggest jerk ever. After years of ridiculing them, I suddenly felt intimately sympathetic to parents whose children have temper tantrums in planes and restaurants.
Curly Sue followed, but she wasn’t happy about it. I barely got her to the curb when she turned around and once again stared at the dog that I could barely see anymore. To help repair my image to the dozen or so strangers that had witnessed me yanking this sweet dog across the street, I began to lavish her with praise and petting to make it obvious that I wasn’t a monster.
A few minutes later, Curly Sue was sufficiently satisfied with her stakeout and ready to move on. We had walked maybe another block when she stopped for a second time. I scanned the area and realized that she now had in her sights a Chihuahua about thirty yards away. I gave her a gentle pull. Nothing.
I think I’m good being just Auntie Anna for a while longer.
* All names have been changed to protect the innocent and furry.