Kish and I got a laugh from this gaily attired concrete pooch found across from Schiller Park. The hound is eagerly anticipating St. Patrick’s Day next week, and who can blame her? With everything else that is going on, St. Patrick’s Day will be a most welcome relief. The pooch even looks a bit thirsty.
Whatever happens between now and then — and this old world sure has been full of surprises lately, hasn’t it? — when the day arrives to toast the Emerald aisle, I imagine everyone will be ready to paddy.
I suspect that our weekend morning walks around Schiller Park are a bit less enjoyable for Betty.
On our weekday morning walks, which typically occur at around 6 a.m., there are, at most, one or two other dogs that we encounter, and often we see no other dogs at all.
On our weekend morning walks, on the other hand, we walk a bit later, and usually there are lots of other dogs out — some walking, some playing fetch with their human pals, and some frolicking with other dogs. Betty is always alert to the dogs that are running free, and I sometimes entertain the notion of letting her off the leash to roam a bit. She’s not specifically trained for that, however, and I just don’t want to take the chance that she’s going to run off and get into some kind of trouble. So I keep the leash on, and we walk forward instead.
The weekend walks get tougher when, as happened this morning, some thoughtless person lets an untrained dog loose and the dog charges up to every other dog in the park — including Betty. It’s unnerving to have a canine of unknown provenance run up to you and your dog with uncertain intentions. Most dogs are friendly and just want to do the sniff routine, but there have been incidents at Schiller Park where dogs have attacked each other and done some serious damage, to the horror of owners and bystanders. That’s why the park has a policy that, if you can’t exercise immediate control over your dog by verbal commands, you need to keep the dog on a leash . . . period. Since there aren’t a lot of verbal command dogs, that means most dogs should be kept on a leash.
But, what’s the social protocol for what to do when some irresponsible person ignores that common-sense rule? In today’s encounter, the owner of the roaming dog was some older woman who didn’t seem at all troubled by her failure to follow the rules and the fact that her dog was misbehaving and racing up to every other dog in the park. Should the leashed dog owner say something, or is that crossing an improper line? I have no desire to lecture people on following the rules, but how else are the rules going to have an impact?
It makes me wish that some dog owners could be put on a leash, too.
Many airports now have animal relief areas. Often, the areas are just a square of bright green astroturf out in some corner of the concourse with a plastic red fire hydrant. Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport is the first airport I’ve seen where the animal relief zone is a separate room with a closing door.
I think it’s a good idea, and I hope that more airports adopt it. Obviously, the room isn’t in deference to the privacy interests of dogs, who don’t seem to care much who can see them while they do their business — or where they do it, for that matter. Instead, it’s a nod to the sensibilities of those of us who are traveling and don’t particularly want to see a squatting dog 50 feet away from where we’re sipping our Starbucks Cafe Grande and trying to tune out the blaring CNN broadcast from the TV sets overhead.
More and more people are traveling with “comfort animals” these days, and the animals are coming in all shapes and sizes. As I moved through the Phoenix airport yesterday, I saw more dogs than ever before, ranging in size from a Shih Tzu clutched by her human pal to a fully grown standard poodle striding down the concourse. I’ve even read about passengers traveling with miniature horses as “comfort animals” — which seems to really push the “comfort animal” envelope and show just how blurry the lines have become.
With the undeniable increase in animals in airports, airport facilities need to change to keep pace with the trend — and obviously making sure that there are places where the “comfort animals” can take care of their own comfort has to be part of that process. It shouldn’t be an issue, because airports always have plenty of space and seem to be under construction at all times — so why not a simple room to let dogs, cats, miniature horses, cockatoos, and the rest of the traveling menagerie answer the call of nature?
The depth of Amazon’s penetration of American popular culture is pretty amazing. Last week, for example, we needed some white cranberry juice to prepare a seasonal cocktail we were making for a gathering with friends. Kish went to several grocery stores in Columbus and couldn’t find any. We decided to give Amazon a try, and sure enough, it offered Ocean Spray white cranberry juice — which was delivered to our doorstep the next day, with no muss and no fuss. Pretty convenient!
But I had no idea of the stunning breadth of Amazon’s business activities until I got a surprise while walking the dog.
In our neighborhood, there are a few strategically placed containers where dog owners can get free poop bags. It’s a good idea for the neighborhood, because it gives dog owners no excuse but to clean up after their pooches, and it’s a blessing for the dog owners who otherwise might be caught short in the crucial bag department. The bags had been made by anonymous companies and featured cartoon drawings of happy (and apparently relieved) dogs — until now. I stopped by one of the containers last week, pulled out two of the plastic baggies so I would have a ready supply, and saw to my surprise as I was putting them into my back pocket that they were from AmazonBasics and featured the familiar swish/smile logo. So, Amazon has now made crucial inroads into the German Village canine poop bag market.
It’s hard to imagine that poop bags are a very lucrative, high-margin item for a supplier, but I guess if you’re aiming to dominate the supply of every product Americans might need, poop bags are just another item on the list. And the poop bag itself makes it clear that Amazon isn’t just looking at America, either — the bags I took feature the suffocation hazard warning in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese.
Recently, our previously quiet little part of German Village has become a kind of barking zone. Some new people have moved into the surrounding apartments with their dogs, and those dogs apparently like to bark.
Not all the time, though — just when I’m leaving the house in the morning and coming home from work at night.
A dog across the street seems to be the barking leader in the barking zone. He stands with front paws on the ledge of the window of his home, barely visible in the shadows next to a curtain, looking outward. From his dim outline and the nature of his bark, he looks to be some kind of hound. When he sees me coming or going he barks and barks until he’s got to be hoarse.
After the pooch across the street starts up, dogs in some of the other places hear him and they typically join in from their homes, blending their more high-pitched yips and yowls and yelps with the leader’s deep-throated woofing. Within seconds, we’ve got a fully developed canine cantata going on.
I’m not sure why I am the target of such furious barking, which doesn’t seem to happen with other random passersby. There’s obviously something about my presence that the dog across the street finds disturbing, or threatening to his alpha dog status. And although I’m curious about how the dog across the street picked me out, the muffled barking doesn’t really bother me. It’s just become part of the greeting when I get home. In fact, it’s kind of like my own little fanfare.
Earlier this week, it was raining when Betty and I took our morning walk. It was pelting down pretty hard outside as we circled Schiller Park, and by the time we got home Betty was soaked. She did a few of the familiar dog shakes to try to fling off as much moisture as possible, and I did my best to towel her off, but when I finally let her off the leash and she scampered upstairs, the damage was already done:
Our house was filled, to every remote nook and cranny, with the distinctive aroma of eau de wet dog.
The bouquet of wet dog is one of those highly distinctive smells. It doesn’t seem to vary much from dog to dog, or from long hair breed to short hair breed. To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s statement about pornography, you might not be able to accurately describe eau de wet dog, but you sure as heck know it when you smell it. And once you smell it, you will remember the pungent, musty odor of wet fur and canine sweat and be able to immediately identify it for the rest of your life.
It’s not like one of those phony, instantly forgettable fragrances that people spray in their bathrooms. No, the heady tang of canine cologne is clearly one of the most memorable smells in the olfactory catalog. In the indelible odor category, it’s up there with wood smoke, a salty, algae-laden whiff of oceanfront air, or the inside of a brand-new car.
Not that you want eau de wet dog around your house, of course, but when you’ve got a dog in the house there’s not much you can do about it.