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July 25, 2009

Walking the Dog

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm drafting this on a Friday, my day of the week when I forsake breakfast cereal at home for the delights of a restaurant breakfast with The Wall Street Journal as my companion. Tooling out of the neighborhood I spied three people walking their dogs. One man was in a white shirt (no tie at that point), clearly getting the chore done before heading off to work. And he was multitasking. Besides controlling the leash and walking, he was reading the paper; it's a talented neighborhood I live in.

Another neighbor walks her dog two and sometimes three times a day. There surely are many others who do it more often than only the morning or evening.

We had a dog when I was a kid. We never walked him. Never considered walking him. The reason was that there was plenty of open space next to our yard, so the dog could run free at will -- though the price he paid for this freedom was getting run over by a car a few years later.

I'm probably too lazy and self-centered to put up with the tasks required of urban dog ownership, including that outdoors exercising that should happen even when the weather turns nasty in the dark winter days here.

So far as I'm concerned, a dog has to earn his keep. It's fine if he hunts, helps herd sheep, guides the blind or warns if strangers approach. Otherwise, I consider them a drain on material and temporal resources.

Some of my other thoughts on dogs can be found here.

Conclusion: Dogs are for other people. Unless they bark too much.



posted by Donald at July 25, 2009


Sounds like you just aren't wired to enjoy their companionship.

I have four dogs, and they are a lot of work, and the effort is all repaid a hundredfold by the pleasure of their companionship.

Posted by: James on July 25, 2009 12:38 PM

Donald, I hope you know that "Walking the Dog" is a blues idiom that means having sexual intercourse.

Of course, we're talking about walking a different kind of dog.

Posted by: Stephen Thomas on July 25, 2009 2:39 PM

James -- Companionship can bring its own complexities in my eyes so yes, I'm not wired to be a dog owner.

ST -- I didn't know that, but I know all but nothing about blues music, let alone its verbal subculture. How the meaning of an everyday term got twisted into a sexual reference is a bit mystifying, given that walking (as a human activity) and the act of sex (ditto) are manifestly incompatible (or all but so) physiologically whether or not a dog is in the mix. Then it's possible to relate human sex to dog behavior, but the "walking" bit doesn't logically fit here either.

Whadda I know; what is, is, jargon-wise. I do wonder how far it has penetrated (pardon the expression) into the non-blues community. After 4 years in a raunchy frat house and 3 in army barracks I figured I'd pretty well heard everything ... though that was a long time ago.

On the other hand, on junior high school playgrounds we came up with all sorts of (now forgotten) secret phrases far removed from their normal context in order to disguise our meanings.

Then there was a joke, whose lead-up I forget, where the punchline was "everything makes me think of sex."


Posted by: Donald Pittenger on July 25, 2009 4:44 PM

I love to walk the dog, but the dog doesn't seem to be into it. Last night she went and put herself to bed about 10:30 -- when I told her it was time to walk she gave me the stink eye. I forced her to go out at 11. She took a decent sized crap which makes one wonder about her initial refusal to go out. But the call of nature seems to have no bearing on her persistent preference not to walk.

Sometimes, she will stop on the walk and look up at me, indicating that she would like to be carried. If she encounters threatening dogs, she will also look up and "ask" to be carried. The other day, it was a bit hot, we rounded the corner and she walked over to a shaded area beneath a bush cleverly appearing to take care of business but then she sprawled out kicking her back legs out to get her belly on the cool grass; she looked at me and yawned.

The funny thing is -- if you ask her if she wants to go in the car, she runs around, her claws hitting the hardwood floor like a tap dancer. She grabs a toy and throws it around in a state of pure excitement. Then, she carries the toy to the car, where she gets in, curls up and goes to sleep.

She is a rescue,-- and very well behaved -- but being a bichon -- I believe she has some genetic connection to French royalty.


Posted by: sN on July 25, 2009 9:55 PM

(1) Your Friday morning restaurant breakfast addiction is admirable.
(2) The joke you dont remember goes like this:

A very worried man goes to see a Freudian psychiatrist.

-Doctor, I can sleep, I cant work, I cant even read my Friday paper, I am so obsessed by sex. Please help me!

- Lets find out. (He shows him a Rohrschach ink blot). What do you see?

- They are making sex. Frenetically.

- OK. (Show another ink blot). What do you see here?

- Sex. Here is penetrating her from behind.

- I see. (Another ink blot). And now?

- Sex again. He is dressed like a bird, you see the wings, and here he is penetrating her from above.

- But you see sex in everything!

- Doctor, what can I do if you only show me pornographic pictures?

Posted by: j on July 26, 2009 8:22 AM

In your old post you link to you state "I think Carmel needs fewer dogs and more children."

Couldn't agree with you more. While the cable shows where fertility-challenged yupsters and religious cults parade their litters generally repulse me, I love kids and think most places are better when there're a bunch of them around (save for "R" rated movies - that I hate).

A recent trend that cramps my nougat is couples who have dogs in place of children (though that part I don't care about) and expect the rest of us to behave as if that were the case.

For example, I went to a superbowl party once, and THAT couple brought their two big galoot dogs because they called the host and asked if people were bringing their kids. They didn't say they were bringing the dogs, but announced snottily when they arrived that since others had brought their kids, they did, too.

So, we had to spend the whole party trying to keep our snack plates up and away from the damn dogs, and every one of the little kids was reduced to tears when one of the dogs would walk up and scarf the contents of their plate. And the owners would ever so slightly smile when that happened, too.

Thus, for a while, we all had to include on the invitations "please leave pets at home"; had to deal with snarky phone calls and boycotting of parties in protest that not all "kids" were welcome.

Posted by: yahmdallah on July 27, 2009 10:57 AM

People who treat and, worse, refer to, their pets as their "kids" is probably my #1 pet (ha!) peeve, to the point I get irrational. I would have yelled at those people who brought their dogs to the Super Bowl party, not because they brought them (although that is annoying), but because of their reasoning. And if I was hosting it, they'd be back in the car driving home before they set foot in my house.

Doting on pets in general is something I find more than annoying. I actually think it's a personality defect. Something is missing in that person, I don't necessarily mean children.

Another aspect of this trend that is highly fucking annoying is the practice of prancing their mutts into stores, usually big box stores like Home Depot. What the fuck!? These are not seeing-eye dogs, and they're not even little yapping pocket dogs. These are good size dogs on leashes.

As for walking the dog, I think the rise in that practice is part of the shrinking space we have, and stricter laws around dogs. Growing up in the 70s and early 80s suburbia, you'd see the neighborhood dogs roaming around. Today, that's pretty much illegal in all but rural communities. Add smaller yards to this picture, and you need to walk the dog. So I or my oldest son dutifully walk our dog daily, with 1 or 2 trips a week to the dog park. Speaking of; dog parks!? Didn't have those growing up.

Posted by: JV on July 27, 2009 12:34 PM

Thank you Donald - I think you articulated almost my own sentiments - I like animals but do not enjoy owning them. Picking up pooh, vomit and being coated in random hair have not endeared me to them. I will probably not become one of those spinsters found dead in their house with 27 cats draped over the furniture.

Posted by: Joanne on August 2, 2009 9:24 AM

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