I’m curious about something: At what point do people begin to see you as a “dog person”?
I guess the quantity involved is a big factor and if so, what’s the magic number when the moniker becomes unavoidable? Two? More than two? More than three? I’m smiling as I write this because there certainly are worse things to be known for and I don’t really mind, although “dog lady” sticks in my craw a little. Craw lady. No.
Let me just say this: I think if a person even has just one dog, but they begin to dress it up in little outfits every day and push it around in a stroller, the label might be knocking at their door as well. Just saying. Fair is fair, right?
In either case, once you are a bonafide “dog person”, people will begin to give you things that are doggy. Doggy tchotchkes. Sometimes they are really wonderful things (and not at all tchotchkes) that they make themselves, like this birthday card that a good friend made for me. I was so happy when I opened it and I cherish it. The truth is my birthday was lousy this year, because my ailing dog Henry took a turn for the worse and it seemed that day might be his last. But this sweet card with these seven pups she drew cheered me up a lot on that sad birthday. And it reminded me that no matter what’s going on, being a “dog person” really is a wonderful gift in itself.
This is my dog Chappie. I’m not really sure what kind of a dog he is, but I usually just say “white shepherd” and that gets us through. Because what else would I say? He’s the kind of dog that’s terrified of thunderstorms? The kind that insists on sleeping in the guest bathroom, and closes the door for privacy? A micromanager of our daily routine, with a built-in clock so he knows exactly when it’s time for treats, dinner and last call? Snaps at bumblebees and would rather be indoors? Chappie is also the dog who refused to befriend Finn, if you happened to read my inaugural post. He’s pretty eccentric, that’s for sure. Just like with people, I suppose there’s a reason for it. Something that was stamped onto his psyche before I met him. But he’s a sweet boy and a good soul, a very tender heart.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a café and it was located in an historic building on Main Street USA. The shop had a great bay window, and being a designer (and not at all someone who wanted a café) I used to dream up different themes for this window and would devote lots of time decorating it. Now in this small town, my café became a daily stop for regulars (and oddly, occasionally a stop for Lawrence Eagleburger and that rotten senator that ended his career by calling someone macaca). Eventually I got to know the head of the county animal shelter who would come in for coffee each morning. One day she remarked that the new shelter was open, but no one knew and so I decided to dedicate the window to this cause. I visited the shelter and photographed all of the dogs and cats and puppies and kittens, framed them and hung them in this window with their names. Traffic picked up at the shelter and adoptions took off, hooray!
Of course, one polar-bear-looking puppy in particular struck me as extra-special, darn it. And so as a parting gift, my friend gave me this little guy who became Chappie. His story: animal control officers had received a tip to investigate a home and when they arrived they found an adult female dog tied to a tree and she was pretty vicious. This dog, Chappie’s mother, had been tied for so long that the rope had grown into her flesh. She attacked one officer and was shot and killed on the spot. Chappie and his 3 brothers were found behind a shed, they were covered in goat poop. Definitely a sad beginning for him, but he’s a resilient little chappie and he makes every day better. Now excuse me, while I go let him out of the bathroom.
Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.
Black and white photo above by Amanda Jones.