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In the Doghouse

When your girlfriend works for an animal shelter, it’s silly to imagine cohabitating with anything less than three cats, a dog, and a dwarf hamster. The amnesty is ongoing, and the animals trickle in. Rufus, the scruffy some-kind-of-terrier, is our latest resident. He came bundled with his shelter name, a strong dislike of larger dogs, and a starter-box of poop bags. The rest has been up to us.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen on adding a canine to our family. Girlfriend and I both have nine-to-fivers, so I imagined the need to walk a dog three times a day as nothing short of inconvenient, not to mention the impending territorial disputes with our cats. Would the felines turn on us? Would we come home to shredded rolls of toilet paper and knocked-over pencil holders? More than the usual amount, I mean. I didn’t think it was going to work.

I said as much, in response to the first three-dozen pics of various doggies that Girlfriend pushed my way via text or Facebook. After three-dozen-and-one, I relented. But I knew we’d have to run the request past our landlord, and surely she’d say no, and that would be the end of that.

I didn’t take into consideration that her plea to our landlord would include a pic of Rufus looking rufusy. “Rufusy,” if you are not aware, is a term subconsciously uttered by everyone upon seeing Rufus, synonymous with the collection of words: “cutest dog ever.” Our landlord therefore had no real choice in the matter, and granted us the doggy.

If you need to borrow money from a friend, I suggest you create a card with a picture of Rufus pasted on its cover. Inside the card, write “OMG, look at this dog! Also, I need a thousand bucks!” You will get a thousand bucks.

Things have a way of working out. As I quickly discovered, Rufus just happens to be the most bestest dog in the universe. Our cats agree, sort of. We don’t come home to shredded toilet paper or knocked-over pencil holders. No more than the usual amount, I mean.

Girlfriend and I now revolve our schedules around three walks a day. Before work, after work, before bed… Those of you with dogs, you know what I’m talking about. These walks have opened up my neighborhood. Now I know where the best pee trees are, and the best poop fields, and all the yellow fire hydrants! I’d never even noticed them before.

I know which neighbors take pride in their yards, which neighbors hang out on their patios, which neighbors own the bigger dogs... I’ve met Jose, the white Chihuahua with the friendly drunk owner. I’ve met Bridget, the brown Spaniel who comes and goes by squeezing through her gate. (Does the owner even know?) I’ve met families in the park. I’ve learned a lot about my neighborhood.

But most of all, I’ve learned that taking three walks a day is not an inconvenience. It’s a privilege, on par with chasing one’s tail, burrowing in a doggy bed, and bounding after squeaky balls. These are the things that make life worth living. I just needed a scruffy mutt named Rufus to remind me.

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