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Posted on Oct 30, 2019 in Blog, Uncategorized

I Walk a New Dog

I Walk a New Dog

Last week I picked up Charlie’s ashes and pawprint from the veterinarian. Maddy will keep the pawprint but we plan to scatter his ashes near all his favorite New York City places — the planter he peed on in front of the Sullivan Street Bakery, the Pier 84 dog run where he basked in attention from tourists to the Intrepid Air & Space Museum, and the blocks between Avenue A and C where he took his daily walks and finally learned not to bark and lunge at the big dogs. Maddy wants to save some ashes to leave in Brooklyn, where Charlie never went in real life but in honor of one of Brooklyn’s most famous residents, Walt Whitman, who wrote:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

Charlie with fans at the Pier 84 Dog Run.

The apartment is quiet without the pitter-patter-pitter-patter of little paws, and I miss the smell of wet dog when we’d come in from a walk in the rain, his tongue licking my fingers, his warm body against my legs. I could go days without leaving the apartment if it weren’t for his three to four walks a day, as small dogs tend to have small bladders and Charlie liked to leave his mark on society.

However, the end of my dog parenthood has been mitigated by my new status as a dog walker and “auntie” for my friend and writing partner Susan’s dog, Buddy. At the end of August, Susan broke her leg, and since Buddy is a big dog — 45 pounds but long-legged — she’s not going to be able to walk him for a while. Buddy is a hero dog: Susan’s accident took place early in the morning when the rest of the family was asleep, and he alerted the others to her distress so they could get help promptly. But he’s a modest chap, not demanding new privileges for his actions, though Susan reports that he has become a bit more protective in the past few weeks.

Buddy the Hero Dog

Buddy seems to know that I need his affection, because he sticks close by me during our writing dates. And we’re getting used to each other on our walks. He’s seven years old, so he’s had a long time to adjust to his family’s style of walking, and at first he dug in his paws. I couldn’t pull or lift him, the way I could with Charlie, so I had to use gentle persuasion, talking to him, reassuring him I wouldn’t put him in danger or take him from his people. Like Charlie, he has a habit of barking at other dogs, and I learned from my work with Charlie how to distract him so he wouldn’t notice another dog walking the opposite way on the sidewalk. (Apparently, Buddy barks when other dogs pass him, but not when they approach him.)

When I walk Buddy, it’s in a different neighborhood where I don’t know the people, so along with getting used to another dog’s preferences and quirks, I will be meeting the other residents with their pooches. In about a month, Richard and I will be moving to a larger apartment four blocks from Susan, so her neighborhood will be my new neighborhood as well. And Buddy will be my introduction to the people there, just as Charlie helped me to become part of all the neighborhoods where we lived during his fifteen years with us.

9 Comments

  1. I’m still sad about Charlie. Thank you so much for sharing stories about him and you and Buddy. It somehow makes the missing part easier.

    • I’m glad you got to see Charlie before he passed. He always enjoyed seeing people and being the center of attention. If he’d been a hero, he’d never let us forget it.

    • Me too, Sandra.

  2. Your piece touched this serial dog-mom right in the heart. Thank you for sparking the bittersweet memories of our own dogs and new pups.

    • Thank you, Stephanie! And all those dogs are so different in personality too.

  3. When our Callie Dog had to be put down, after 16 years with us, we adopted a very young dog. The hardest part of the transition may have been walking her. Callie was so connected to us, had spent her life as the manager of the kids. Rosie wanted to be the puppy of the family. She ran and pulled, she was scared of some things and curious about others. Every walk with her made the loss feel bigger at first, and then, slowly, smaller. The comparison shrank and Rosie became just Rosie, instead of not-Callie.

    I’m glad you have a walking buddy for now. I’m also glad you have fifteen years of memories of Charlie. The loss can be so big and hard, but the love is so huge as well.

    • Thank you, Jen. It’s a big transition going from an older dog to a puppy, and I think we’re going to let some time pass before we adopt another dog. Charlie was originally our daughter’s dog, and she did such a wonderful job of taking him to puppy classes and training him. It was then, when she was 13, that I knew she was going to become a teacher. Today she teaches first grade in a public school in Brooklyn, but Charlie was her first “student.”

  4. Lovely post, Lyn. So glad you’re getting to walk Buddy, and that he’s sensitive to how you’re feeling.

    • Thank you, Linda. It’s also a good way to get outside and moving. I used to call Charlie my personal trainer.

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