Neighbours, Part I

Whenever it rains a lot, as it did a great deal last week, the resulting mud in the back yard forces me to be less lazy and actually walk the dog, instead of just taking him out back to meet his morning needs (with a feeble “I’ll walk you later” promise that I almost always break).

As we trotted around the block one grey morning, we caught the eye of Mrs. G. Mrs. G. is not just a neighbour. She is one of The Spouse’s most important clients. In fact, her late husband was our first client; he gave my husband his start in the consulting business, referred him to others, and was always supportive and loyal. When he passed away a few years ago (way too young, I might add), his widow picked up the business and continued on. She made it clear to us at the shiva that she was counting on The Spouse to get her through, and we made it clear he would always be there for her and the company.

Back then, they were by far our largest and most important client. Times have changed; The Spouse is now in partnership with two other geeks, and I don’t know if Mrs. G.’s company even makes the top ten anymore. Still, because of the long-term and special nature of the relationship, The Spouse is very committed to Mrs. G. and her business, and she is always very cordial and warm to me when we meet around the neighbourhood.

However, like many of our neighbours, Mrs. G. is not part of the dog culture. When she saw me pass in front of her house, sporting a large beast on the end of a leash, her eyes popped out and she said, “I don’t believe it! How long have you had that thing???”

Considering we live literally right around the corner, she sees my husband on a regular basis, and her immediate next-door neighbour is one of my husband’s best friends, I was kind of surprised she didn’t know. “You didn’t know we had a dog? We’ve had him two years!”

She just kept staring. Finally she said, “I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Why would anyone want one of those things?”

For once in my big-mouth life, I wasn’t sure what to say. Mrs. G. is one of the rare people in the world I won’t be a smart-ass to. I simply called Our Best Friend to me, leaned down, and hugged him. “No one on this planet,” I told her, “loves me as much as this dog does– no matter what I do or who I am.”

“So it’s the unconditional love,” she said.

“Mostly.” I thought a minute more. “And he has the softest ears in the world.”

Not worth it to her. Not for her the fur, the expense, the poo (which she noticed, much to her horror, I was holding a bag of in my hand). No matter how much love is involved. Dog love doesn’t interest her.

As I walked the half-block home, I considered what else I could have said. How dog owners are generally more fit and healthier than non-pet owners. The company. The warm cuddles on the couch. (Ew– fur on the furniture– another turn-off for many.) The ecstatic greeting one gets after being gone even a short time. And with Our Best Friend in the house, I feel much more comfortable my heart leaving the girls alone in the evening, knowing there’s a big dog guarding the fort.

I have always, always loved cats and dogs, but I know there’s no converting some people. I would never be an entomologist, own an ant farm, or otherwise truck with bugs (the lizard cage notwithstanding). Tarantulas are fuzzy, but I wouldn’t want to own one. Hard as it is to imagine, I suppose to some people, a dog is just a four-legged spider. With poop.

This equals this?

Picture on the left courtesy Wikipedia. Picture on the right my own doing. Isn’t he cute???


About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
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16 Responses to Neighbours, Part I

  1. Julie says:

    Hmmm, I always find it interesting that people think it’s okay to question “why” someone would have a dog. I don’t walk around asking people “why” they have kids (and just because I don’t have any, doesn’t mean that I don’t like them!). Geez . . why would you NOT want a dog . .they are the best!! I think your answers were perfectly valid 😉

  2. Kari says:

    No a dog is not a spider. I have a hard time coming up with things to tell people when they ask why I have dogs. I think some people may never understand


  3. thatjenk says:

    Ha! I also stand in stunned silence when the “non-pet people” question my choices, trying to fathom the animals in our house and all they entail.
    I suppose it’s how I feel about some of the more odd pets… spiders, birds. They’re just not my “thing”. So each to his/her own, I suppose. But I don’t ask hamster owners about “those things”, either. They could explain it to me, but I just wouldn’t get it. Much like I’m sure she maybe understood, but didn’t empathize with, your response about O/YBF.
    And I had to laugh at Julie’s response above about kids – fair point! (From another non-parent.)

    • As a parent, living in a neighbourhood where people average about six kids (I have another neighbour with 18), I’ll tell you that parents do get those questions, along with lectures about overpopulation and polluting the planet. Maybe I need to do a post on my other blog defending our inalienable right to keep and bear children.

      • thatjenk says:

        Wow. 18 kids. Just… wow. That I cannot comprehend. And I thought my husband’s family (there are 4 children, including him) was big! That seems… expensive.

        • Comprehend this: the woman is exactly my age. And a grandma.

          Truthfully, I don’t recommend it. It does take its toll. Though I don’t think she would agree. She truly lives for motherhood.

  4. Pamela says:

    You gave exactly the right answer. Logic doesn’t sway people. Emotion does. And you expressed a very honest emotion.

    Your neighbor may never understand why people have dogs. But you gave her a little glimpse into why you have one.

    Can’t wait to read Part II.

  5. Jodi Stone says:

    Perfect answer and very diplomatic; I’m not sure I could have been as kind. Some people are “dog people” and some aren’t. I am glad that I am.

  6. Pup Fan says:

    I think your answer was perfect.

  7. Kristine says:

    My mouth probably would have dropped open and I don’t think I could have come up with any sort of response. Your answer was brilliant and very true. It shows how teeny tiny my world has gotten, though. No one has ever asked me such a question. The people I know would all want to ask her how she lives without a companion animal.

    I think I used to know people who didn’t have pets at my old job. I think.

  8. The Hook says:

    At least the Mother Nature/canine combo keeps you hopping!
    You know that last shot – on the left, of course – is going to creep people out, right?

  9. Mel says:

    Mrs. G may not understand, but your response was beautiful. I loved it. I like Daisy’s soft ears too. 🙂

    It’s funny, but for some people, a dog, is not even a consideration, but for others it’s everything. It always makes me smile when someone gets a dog for the first time. Once you’ve gone there, ther is no turning back (at least for most people). The love you get in return is SO worth it.
    Loved your post.

  10. Makes perfect sense to me! Oh and the soft ears! Sometimes my hubby kids me that I pay more attention to Kelly than to him (does anyone else get this?) and I tell him it’s because he doesn’t have furry ears. Photo: I love the cuteness on the bench there!

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