Tag Archives: pets

Lame Adventure 462: Puppy Love

I was sitting at my desk at The Grind masochistically eating my organic kale lunch, when I received a call from my building’s management announcing:

Building Management: Your lock is locked but your lock’s not locked.

Me: Huh?

They repeat that same statement.

Me: What are you saying? Have I been burglarized?

They pause.

Me: Was my door opened?

Building Management: No, it’s locked.

Me: So how was my door not locked if it was locked?

Building Management: We locked it.

Me: So you locked my door because it was unlocked?

Building Management: Yes. You didn’t lock it when you left.

They then give me a convoluted explanation about how to lock the door that I’ve been locking almost every day of my life since September 1983.

Me: I know how to lock my door. I know I locked it when I left this morning. How do you know my apartment wasn’t broken into?

They have no response to that idea. Elspeth, my boss, has heard my side of this frustrating conversation.

Elspeth: You better go home and see what’s going on. You might need to file a police report.

I doubt that anyone took my eight-year-old MacBook, spin bike or platform bed. At least I hope that. But I heed The Boss’s advice, catch a 1 local and head home to the Upper West Side. I’m calm. I don’t have a sick feeling. A light rain is falling when I exit the train at West 72nd Street and hot foot the rest of the way to my hovel. I enter my building and encounter a member of Building Management.

Building Management: Did you get the phone call? Your door was locked but it wasn’t locked. We locked it for you.

I still don’t know what that means. I walk up three flights to my sanctum sanctorum. It is locked. I enter. If anyone broke in, they were not compelled to take anything. Possibly they thought:

Would-be robber: What a dump!

I once knew someone whose place was broken into. Their stuff was so shabby the robber left two tens on the kitchen counter. Apparently, my would-be robber left with his or her disgust. As I exit my building I encounter my first bright spot of the day: an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy on a red leash. She and her young guy owner are running short sprints back and forth on the sidewalk. But I’m a new distraction. She wants to check me out. She sniffs my hand and licks a knuckle. Her fluffy coat is dotted with mist from the light rain. In the idiot voice I use for delightful small animals and cute small fry I ask:

Me: And what’s your name?

Young guy (speaking in puppy voice): Bleecker!

Me: You’re in the wrong neighborhood for that name!

For non-New Yorkers, Bleecker is the name of a popular street downtown in Greenwich Village.

Young guy (speaking in puppy voice): I like it up here!

I ask her age and he tells me that she’s ten weeks old.

Me: Welcome to the Upper West Side, Bleecker.

I’m impressed that this fellow has not named his dog, Linda, and his daughter, Bleecker. Maybe the trend to call dogs people names and people dog names is reversing? My encounter with Bleecker makes me think about my beloved childhood dog, Mean Streak. When we bought him at a pet store in San Francisco the day after Christmas in 1969, the shopkeeper told us that he was part poodle, part spaniel and his coloring was similar to a Berner. Meanie shared much of the temperament of a Berner. He was loyal, faithful, intelligent, but where he diverged was that he was more inclined to snarl than be very affectionate. Wound tight by nature he was a constantly aggravated barking machine who viewed every visitor as an unwelcome intruder. Gluttons for punishment, we loved him. Meanie weighed about thirty-five pounds.

Mean Streak circa 1971: he loved having his picture taken.

Stupid Pet Trick photo. Mean Streak circa 1971: he loved having his picture taken.

I am seeing Bleecker more and more. Proving that I’m fast approaching 392 in dog years, I’ve been suffering brain freezes and I’ve almost twice called her Berkeley. She is very playful and sweet. Her fur is incredibly soft. Right now, she weighs about fifteen pounds. When I was talking to Randi, her woman co-owner, she told me that Bleecker would gain two pounds every week until she reaches her adult weight of ninety pounds. The pooch that is a little bundle of energy that eagerly stands on her hind legs with her paws pressing on my thighs might soon be placing those same paws on my shoulders. That might be more disturbing than charming, but for now, Bleecker’s stealing hearts, thieving I condone.

Bleecker sitting still for a nanosecond.

Bleecker sitting still for a nanosecond.

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Lame Adventure 441: My First Public F-bomb

If dogs had life spans that equaled humans, my childhood canine companion, Mean Streak, would have turned forty-five this Friday. Meanie only made it to sixteen years and four months before he started leg lifting on the Pearly Gates.

Mean Streak was my brother Axel’s dog. We got him on December 26, 1969.  Axel wanted a dog for Christmas, but our parents were anti-dog. There was no puppy under our tree. Instead, they gave my brother $20 and extended anemic approval to him to find his pet.

With our sister, Dovima, driving our mother’s 1963 Chevy Bel Air, we spent December 26th combing San Francisco Bay Area pet shops in search of Axel’s four-legged friend. We discovered that the day after Christmas all that remained were the rejects. Axel felt that if we did not return home with a dog that day, we ran the risk of our parents changing their minds and telling us that we had to remain dog-less. We were determined to find a dog.

We met an adorable tan Cockapoo, but that dog was too small. We encountered a very exuberant Bluetick Coonhound mix that so desperately wanted to go home with us, her nails got caught in Dovima’s wooly sweater. Axel was concerned that she might be too big when fully grown. If he came home with the second coming of Marmaduke, he’d never hear the end of it. We kept looking.

As our hunt drew to a close, we went to Teddy’s Pet Shop in West Portal, not far from where we lived. A litter of just weaned puppies was playing in the window. The pet shopkeeper told us that these pups were exactly six weeks old. Off to the side, Mean Streak snoozed by himself. Axel selected the little sleeper, erroneously assuming that that pup was the most peaceful one of all. We later realized that Meanie was just being his usual anti-social self.

Meanie was a feisty, mighty mutt who was born to bark. He was very protective of our house and made it clear to all visitors — friends, neighbors and extended family members:

Mean Streak: I take no prisoners!

Puppy Mean Streak on the alert for trespassers, or anyone.

Puppy Mean Streak on the alert for trespassers or anyone.

Even though Meanie weighed only thirty-five pounds, no one ever called our dog’s bluff. He was equal opportunity and would gladly rip out the lungs of any perceived intruder i.e., every single visitor outside of my siblings, parents and grandmother, but he granted an exemption to my pet turtle.

Mean Streak: I cut the turtle a pass.

When my turtle died and I buried him in the back yard, Meanie, who was not a digger, dug him up. I could have lived quite nicely without ever having seen that sight. My dad reburied my turtle in another hole so deep in our yard Meanie would have had to dig all the way to middle earth to reach that corpse again.

Axel said I could own a five percent stake in  Mean Streak. I was allotted Meanie’s tail. A few years later, when my brother got a part time job, he paid me a dollar a week to walk Meanie when I got home from school. I  liked the job, but there were these two old guys with big dogs that were bad news. They walked their dogs unleashed, flouting the leash laws. They lumbered slowly and their dogs walked far ahead looking for trouble.

One day when I was walking Mean Streak, we encountered the two old guys exercising their pony-sized unleashed beasts. Both hounds from Hell came barreling at us. They pounced Mean Streak. The two old guys thought this was hilarious. I was a whippet thin twelve-year-old whose dog was under attack. I didn’t get the joke.

Me: Get your dogs off my dog you bastards!

They quickened their pace and pulled their dogs off of mine.

One Old Guy: You’ve got a mouth on you, little girl!

Me: Fuck you!

That was the first time I dropped the f-bomb on anyone in public. I reported back to Axel what had happened, including my use of profanity. Axel approved. He hated those guys and had his own share of run ins with them. One of the bullying big dogs died prematurely. We attributed it to the owner’s bad karma.

Looking back, those “old” guys were younger then than I am now. If there is an afterlife, I hope that Mean Streak is nipping them in the ankles for eternity.

 

Lame Adventure 384: For the Love of Cats

Even though I am a committed dog person who is deathly allergic to cats, I now have two critters of the feline persuasion prominently in my life over here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Pictured below is the sister act, Primo on the right, and her sibling, Segundo, on the left. It is evident that they both share my zest for sleeping.

Do not disturb.

Do not disturb.

Their slave had committed the unthinkable: she had taken a two-day getaway to the Newport Folk Festival.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

As someone well versed in giving the illusion of being a few I.Q. points higher than a Bonsai tree, that attribute convinced their serf to appoint me designated cat-sitter. I was paid handsomely with air conditioning and permission to eat all the fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons from Whole Foods sitting in the freezer. There were two pints in there along with a neatly folded frozen bib inscribed with my favorite philosophical quotation, “Batteries included.” In response, I took my Cat Patrol duties seriously and ensured that the kitties were fed, watered, and only partially neglected. I even coaxed Segundo, who briefly threatened suicide, off a ledge.

"Goodbye cruel world!"

“Goodbye cruel world!”

Me: Hey! You! Get down from there! You’re gonna scratch the thing up!

At last, those seven years I spent minoring in Animal Whispering at NYU(seless) had paid a dividend. Call me an egotist, but whenever possible, I seize the opportunity to flaunt my vocabulary of 309 words starting with “a” and ending, obviously, with “zither”.

I was spared the responsibility of performing litter box janitorial service, but I was in the know about where to find the cleaning supplies should someone dribble fluids or leave a deposit in the middle of the living room floor. Those accidents did not happen.

Primo-approved reading material (not pushed out).

Primo-approved reading material (a partial accident).

By the second day of their servant’s respite I sensed that both varmints were feeling bereft. I, too, was suffering a degree of heaviness triggered by either their enabler’s absence, or more likely, having consumed both pints of fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons that had settled like an immovable lump the size of Rhode Island in the ever expanding pit of my being.

Overseeing two melancholy cats did posit an emotional challenge. I took it upon myself to orchestrate some spirit lifting in the guise of exercise, so I threw a tennis ball around the living room expecting them to watch me chase it. But, the game they excelled at had a cerebral slant: Watch Me Ignore You.

"Yes, I am ignoring you and I win!"

“Yes, I am ignoring you. I’m also winning.”

It dawned on me that what they craved most was simple contact: a belly rub and being petted on that sweet spot around the ears — coincidentally my favorite acts of foreplay especially when slathered in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! As mentioned earlier, I am deathly allergic to the kitties so this presented a conflict. They were in dire need of being stroked as I was in dire need of being able to breath — preferably through the nose without the assistance of an oxygen mask to alleviate my wall-rattling wheezing. This wheezing always happens whenever I pet cats for inevitably I will touch my face prompting a transformation that rivals that of the Wolfman but with “why-me?” whining replacing full moon howling.

Both Primo and Segundo took turns nudging my elbows with their heads, their way of urging me to take action. As someone who does not have an iota of Cirque du Soleil flexibility, there was no way I would ever be able to rub my eyes with my elbows so this seemed like a compromise solution bordering on genius.

"Something that works for all of us? That's an eye opener!"

“I’ll always be smarter than you.”

Unfortunately, elbows lack the dexterity of digits. The best belly rubs are not done with hinge joints, even hinge joints that strike a delicate balance between rubbery smooth and switchblade sharp. So, I threw caution to the air conditioning and substantially petted everyone everywhere. All three of us purred contentedly. Then, I hacked a hairball and washed my hands up to my elbows so vigorously, I left two layers of skin and what was once my watch floating in the sink … But I was still able to breath freely.

"Glad you survived us. Now we've got sleep to do."

“Glad you survived us. Now back to regularly scheduled sleeping.”

Lame Adventure 381: The Dog On the Plane

I have recently returned from visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by the back seat photographer.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by The Back Seat Photographer.

Excluding the nine hours of my life I burned getting there and the twelve it took to return to New York, were it not for the hassle of traveling, it was a welcome getaway. Whatever anxiety I suffered on the plane immediately dissipated when I was reacquainted with one of my favorite relatives, Thurber, the family dog.

The Back Seat Photographer's assistant.

The Back Seat Photographer’s assistant.

Because I only see Thurber twice a year, it heartens me that he remembers me. My sister, Dovima, thinks this is due to his natural canine instinct i.e., he knows that I am a dog-lover, a friend who’ll play with him and someone he can reliably count on to scratch that itch behind his ears. Splashing myself liberally with steak sauce might also encourage these feelings of mutual affection.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z's.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z’s.

When I was sitting in the lounge at JFK airport waiting to board my JetBlue flight west, I noticed that there was a fluffy mop of a pooch lying peacefully in the seat to my right. Her name was Ginger. She was so tranquil. I was impressed. I smiled at Ginger’s owner. I wanted to say something complimentary, something flattering, something that would make this woman beam with pride about having such a well-behaved pup. But I was a bit crispy fried from working at The Grind before racing to the airport. The best that mush-minded me could offer was:

Me: Your dog’s so relaxed. Is she sedated?

In response her owner was silent. She smiled shyly at me. I felt like a jerk.

When it came time to board, Ginger obediently entered her pet carrier. Once inside the aircraft, I was stuck in the middle seat between two women. The rotund woman radiating heat sitting on the aisle seat next to me noticed that it was not a full flight. The row ahead of us was empty. She asked a flight attendant for permission to move. It was granted. I was so elated with her taking charge, I considered proposing, but I decided it might be best that I take a vow of silence across the country. I wish I could say the same for the three-year-old of indeterminate gender sitting two rows ahead of me. This moppet shouted in an outdoor voice for the entirety of the flight — with fatherly encouragement. How I would have loved to wield a burlap bag full of mashed stone at him.

From the vantage point of my aisle seat, I saw that Ginger’s owner was sitting across from me but one row ahead. When we were airborne, I noticed that Ginger was once again out of her carrier. Her owner was cuddling her.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

The air conditioning was at Arctic-level so the cabin felt like a flying freezer. Snuggling a warm beast in a frozen tube at 35,000 feet must have felt comforting. I would have loved to stuff Ginger’s forepaws in my ears to silence that squealing kid.

A flight attendant with a figure reminiscent of a prison matron cross-bred with a brick wall motored down the aisle. Her peripheral vision saw something suspect. She instantly slammed her brakes, backed up, hovered over Ginger’s owner and read her the riot act.

JetBlue’s JetPaws rules and regulations insist that pets must remain in their carriers at all times. This includes during the flight as well as at the gate. This second rule I have seen violated on numerous occasions without incident. But seeing someone cuddling a pet on a plane was new to me.

Ginger’s owner did not object to the loud dictate. In fact, she didn’t speak. She obeyed. I wanted to break my vow of silence and pipe up at Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes:

Me (piping): Hey! What about telling Dad to make his brat shut the hell up?

Apparently JetBlue’s rules for demanding silence from a three-year-old shouting six hours straight in confined quarters requires that the kid simultaneously bust out a window, ignite a fire and demand more Terra Blue chips. Therefore, Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes was steering clear of that infinitely more combustible situation.

For the remainder of the flight, every so often Ginger’s owner would pick up the pet carrier and embrace it. Sometimes she’d zip it open and slip her hand inside to pet her furry friend. All the while, that kid loudly bleated and Dad gushed praise at his progeny. Outside of three soft yaps emitted upon landing, Ginger was silent as the dead. I swallowed a fistful of Excedrin and wished that JetBlue had a toddler-sized carrier that could be stuffed under the seat.

"Okay, let's take a walk!"

“Okay, let’s take a walk!”

Lame Adventure 356: For the Love of a Nickel

It was shortly after seven on a recent chilly weeknight on the Upper West Side.

Freezing cold night.

More like a freezing cold night.

I was doing some after work multitasking – laundry and food shopping at my market on Upper Broadway, Fairway.  I had just tossed my clothes in a drier and then made a beeline to purchase foodstuffs.  As I was exiting Fairway in my usual irrational hurry, as if walking faster would somehow make my chores finish sooner,  I noticed an elderly man with a cane walking stiffly.  The expression on his face looked disoriented.  I wondered:

Me:  Is he okay?  Am I supposed to do something here?

He had a thick thatch of snow-white hair and was wearing crisply pressed casual clothes and immaculate white sneakers.  His cane looked like it was made from some fancy wood, not a piece of crap you can buy at The Piece of Crap store.  I figured that he was a long time Upper West Side resident, probably a lifelong liberal that made good money, has had at least one wife and a few kids and grandkids.  It’s possible that his family loves him very much.  He probably is respected amongst his peers, however many of them are still kicking.  He didn’t look like a bastard and might have even had dogs and cats in his life.  Possibly he might even have or had a crazy bird bursting with personality like my longtime bud,  BatPat, and her feathered friend, Buttafuoco.

"I am always ready for my close-up!"

“I’m always ready for my close-up!”

For all I know he might even have a lovely aquarium in his home right now.  This old guy was very likely a good guy, someone who will be sorely missed by many when he buys his rainbow.

As I walked on, I was haunted by the likelihood that this fellow was in the throes of some sort of health emergency.  Since I did notice him, I was his human Life Alert.  How could I walk on?  What if this man was my own Dear Old Dad, there was a woman like me that noticed that he might be in trouble, but she ignored the signs and walked away?  I thought:

Me: You cold-hearted bitch.  I hate you!

Instantly, I suffered Grade A level guilt.  I turned back to look at the man on the bustling avenue, narrowly avoiding getting run over by two completely oblivious teenage girls that had just blown past him.  They momentarily obscured my view of what was going on with this fine fellow.  This prompted me to think:

Me (thinking): Just the type of brats that would suck the marrow out of their grandfathers’ bones!  Ingrates!

Quickly, my senior citizen was back in view.  He was now looking quite contorted — bent at the waist, knees starting to buckle, awkwardly holding his cane with his left hand while reaching down towards the sidewalk with his right.  I reasoned that he was desperately trying to break the hard fall that was surely coming.  I gasped.  I shifted the gears in my feet to turbo-charge.  Arthritic knee be damned!  With puffs of exhaust jetting out of my butt-ugly hybrid winter boot-sneakers courtesy of the Land’s End Women of a Certain Age Exchange Style for Price collection, I motored to his rescue.  I could hear him groaning.  I screamed inside my head:

Me:  Hang on, Mister!  A lot of people love you!

As I was almost upon him, I realized that he wasn’t suffering a stroke or a heart attack.  He was reaching down to pick up a nickel off the sidewalk.

Crisis averted.

For this.

Coveted coinage.

Lame Adventure 354: Gift Giving Insanity

Two weeks ago today my family and I celebrated Christmas.  We exchanged gifts and had the annual home cooked meal at my sister Dovima’s house in the San Francisco Bay Area.  As usual, it was scrumptious, not that I can recall anything I ate other than the cookies that my niece, Sweet Pea, baked.  I know the main course was something without cheese or tomato or lemon, the latter two acidic ingredients instantly activate my gastritis and make me spew hellfire.  I also know that it was not fish, since both Sweet Pea and my brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), are not fans of seafood.  My brother Axel will not eat red meat of any kind, so that eliminates beef as well as pork and ham.  My father loves turkey, but Dovima loathes eating fowl so soon after Thanksgiving.  None of us will go anywhere near veal since animal cruelty makes us all cry.  I know whatever we had, we kept it simple so it’s very possible that we celebrated the holiday with delectable bread and water.

Before that wonderful meal of — here’s another possibility — carrot sticks and crackers, we had appetizers.  I have no recollection of what they were, either, but I know that I did eat the equivalent of my weight in all of them including three fairly digestible paper napkins decorated with cartoon reindeer.  Then, we exchanged gifts.

Ever since the economy tanked, and my wages were decreased twenty percent four years ago this month — not one of my more treasured memories — affording  gifts has posed a challenge.  Every year as the cost of living increases, my meager alms are further stretched.  In years past when my pay was robust I could afford to give those near and dear presents of significant worth.  Translation: I shelled out for costlier crap.

Unfortunately, those days are now history and today, with such a scant pile of pesos at my disposal, I am forced to be creative or in the case of Herb (with a silent h), redundant.  For a second year in a row I have gifted my brother-in-law with the same present, a gum wrapper inscribed:

IOU a Gift.

My sister hinted that she needed an umbrella so that was easy.  I slipped five dollars to one of the umbrella guys that pop up all over Manhattan sidewalks the second a cloud bursts.  For my 85-year-old dad, I raided the supply closet at work and plied him with Post-its and paper clips.  As for Axel, I gave my brother a rusty, twisted nail.  That scored a huge hit with him.  Whispering this confidence lent it instant panache:

Me: They say that nail was used on Jesus.

When I told my pal, Milton, that I had gotten him a gift he admonished me:

Milton:  No, you shouldn’t have!

Abiding by his wish, I gave his Barbra Streisand pencil cup to my niece along with a post-dated check for two dollars.

Just as I thought I had finished the hell of holiday shopping I remembered that I had stiffed one of my most valued relations, Thurber, the family dog.  He completely slipped my mind the previous Christmas as well.  That year I rushed out to Target and got him a hard plastic mallard that landed with a thud literally and figuratively.  He made the definitive canine “I hate this toy statement” i.e., he buried it deep into a black hole.  It was more the equivalent of a black hole since he does not have access to a yard.  He shoved it under the couch and neither looked for it nor barked for some schnook or schnook-ette with opposable thumbs to retrieve it.  Possibly it remains there right now.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

I know why that mallard was a dud.  Mouth feel.  Two years ago, I gave Thurber a Mr. Bill doll.  That toy not only had exquisite fabric-y mouth feel but it talked.  And yes, I tested it out in my own mouth.  It did feel very good.

Chew on this!

Chew on this!

Eager to repeat the Mr. Bill level of success with The Family Canine, I raced out to a neighborhood pet store where I found The Perfect Gift — a talking Curly from the Three Stooges.  It said several Curley phrases including my personal favorites, the more intellectually astute bon mots, “Soitenly!” and “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!”  Plus, the mouth feel was sublime.  The one hindrance was the price, $18.47 (with tax).  Would I really unload nearly $20 on a dog toy, considering that I had spent less than $20 on my entire family combined?

"I pronounce Curly a keeper."

“I pronounce Curly a keeper.”

Lame Adventure 330: From Barnyard Puppets to Neighborhood Pooches

Twenty-nine years ago when I was a freshly minted NYU(seless) grad, I found my no fee, rent-stabilized, gas and electrical inclusion (i.e., no charge for gas and electric), Upper West Side hovel in The New York Times.  After making the mistake of agreeing to take me on as a tenant, my Irish-Catholic landlady, Catherine McCrank (name changed to protect the demented), ordered me to sit at her kitchen table to write a list of house rules that she dictated. I made the Faustian deal to follow her rules for the life of my tenancy in her building.

Deal with the devil circa 1983.

Since Manhattan usually has less than a one percent vacancy rate and I had been looking for a garret for three months, I would have willingly signed a confession that I was San Francisco’s Zodiac serial killer between the ages of four and twelve just to land this affordable 312 square foot crash pad.

The first rule was No petsNo air conditioner which has haunted me brutally this summer appears further down the list.  Back to Mrs. McCrank’s No pets rule, she loathes animals, particularly dogs.  Some tenants have snuck in cats, and occasionally there have been dog visitors, but this has been a dog-free house as long as I’ve resided here and at this stage, I’m almost the oldest tenant in the joint.  The length of my tenancy shocks the younger residents when they ask that irritating question:

Younger resident:  How long have you lived here?

I used to give an honest answer but after a while I grew tired of hearing:

Younger resident:  No way! You’ve lived here that long?

Now when someone asks I handle it as follows:

Me: I can’t remember.  Forever!

Then, I laugh, and they laugh and what we’re laughing at neither one of us knows other than they’re probably paying a good fifty percent more than me in rent, so I suppose the joke’s on them.

Unlike Mrs. McCrank, I love dogs.  I grew up with a mutt I adored that hated my guts, Mean Streak.

Meanie on the lookout.

In the above photo, Mean Streak’s paw was bandaged from excessive nail biting; he was a worrier as well as a canine warrior.  He was also an excellent watchdog and I assumed that he barked and snarled at me to maintain his skill set. I never held his ferocious temper against him.

I always figured I’d eventually live in a place where I could finally have a dog, but after twenty-nine years living in this sweltering, albeit affordable, rat hole – where I’ve just renewed the lease to start year thirty, I’m resigned to the reality that this is never going to happen.  Therefore, the closest thing I have to a pet is Bill E., my newly acquired puppet barnyard goat.

Low maintenance puppet pet. Just dust off on weekends.

I also like to come and go as I please.  Dogs need a lot of time and attention.  I oversleep nearly every morning of my life.  If I had to add “walk Fido” to my to do list I’d never make it out the door in time to squeeze onto the jam-packed subway train for my commute downtown, sandwiched between satchels with enough space to fit a week’s provisions for a family of four.

What is in here, fifty copies of “Fifty Shades of Gray”?

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to my tale of no-pooch-for-me woe.

There’s Blanca.

“That be me!”

This adorable 9-year-old Westminster Terrier lives across the street from my brownstone with her always pleasant owner, A.  They’re quite a team and it’s probably a reflection that A, who is so cheerful, would have a mellow dog.  Possibly a telling factor in Mean Streak’s sour demeanor was that my childhood phone number was 1-800-LUNATIC.  Was that a coincidence?  Probably not.

Back to Blanca, seeing her and A on my walk to the subway station to head down to The Grind is a welcome start to my day.  Lucky for me, Mrs. McCrank did not have one more rule on her list, “No socializing with neighborhood dogs.”

“Arf you, Mrs. McCrank!”