Dog ownership has made us not-weird.
This is our new dog who, in a matter of weeks, has become more popular than his humans will ever hope to be.
Among his many talents, his daily dose of adorable has had a zen-like therapeutic effect on our general mood. Bills to pay? Yes, but, look at that face. Too much to do, not enough hours? Not nearly enough: let's lie prostrate on the floor with the dog until the stress subsides.
He’s also whipped us into shape. The kids get up early to take him out. We walk every day, and by the very act of being outside more often, we’ve met more neighbors in the last three weeks than we have in the last three years. There's Dottie up the street, Guinness who lives on the corner, Teddy the little black puppy, and Hunter a few doors down. I know their people have lovely names, too, which I will eventually remember.
All of this has given us a sense of having gained membership into a special society. Dog ownership has made us approachable. When I’m out walking the dog, people walking their dogs start conversations with me. Neither of us can shut up about our four-legged buddies. I smile more, even during an Upper Valley winter when the air regularly hurts my face. No longer am I that weird lady who walks around the block by herself, at dusk, possibly in her pajamas. Now I have an animal.
My kids, whom I love, are not as endearing. They talk over me. I can’t leash them (right?), meaning they’re free to run in protest if I happen to strike up a conversation with someone on the street, and then that poor soul has to hear my screaming-mom voice.
But a dog seems to send a different message. A dog implies careful thought. You can’t just accidentally accept a dog into your house, and accidentally remember to walk it twice a day as you babble, “who’s a good boy? Who’s a good BOY?” as if he’s going to reply, “Me, I am a good boy, thank you for checking.” If you care enough about a dog to make sure he gets a good walk in, you can’t be that bad.
And I think that, perhaps, is why we have so many new friends.
Also: look at that face.