Although I have been with my People for four years now, I often feel that I still have a lot to learn about them. To that end, I sat down with the Guy (TG) and the Lady (TL) to discuss the most important thing in their lives: me.
A: Why did you decide you wanted to get a dog?
TL: During the summer of 2010, I happened to meet a couple of people who had wonderful rescue dogs and who talked a lot about their dogs, in a good way. One of them was in a beach house we stayed in, and we got to know that dog a bit and spend some time with her. So I didn’t really decide right then, but I think it planted the idea in the back of my mind.
TG: I’ve always liked dogs. But didn’t really know I wanted a dog in New York City until I met you.
A: Did you ever have a dog before?
TG: Yup. My family had a crazy Irish setter when I was a kid. And I had an amazing dog named Abby in college. Abby was found under a car in a parking lot when she was just a week or two old. She grew up to be a very smart and independent dog. Later, she lived with my parents for many years and helped to keep them somewhat sane and healthy.
TL: No, but we had some fish when I was a kid. And after college, I had a cat for about 5 years.
A: I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood you. I thought you just said that you had a cat.
TL: Yes, that’s what I said, a cat. When I got her from the shelter, she was already about 10 years old. She was an extremely friendly Siamese mix. People said she was like a dog trapped in a cat’s body.
A: I’m going to have to re-evaluate my entire relationship with you.
TL: I think you’re being a little melodramatic.
A: Let’s move on. What is the best thing about living with a dog in New York?
TG: So many things. I would say I know more of my neighbors now, but actually they just know me as the human that belongs to Albert.
TL: I would agree with that. There are a lot of people who I used to just say hello to—I mean for years—and not much more than that. I’ve never been very good at small talk, and how much can you possibly say about the weather anyway? But as soon as you showed up, almost everyone wanted to stop and talk about you. Some of our neighbors’ faces light up when you appear, and that cheers me up, too, if I’m having a bad day. But the thing is, I still don’t know them that well. I mean, there’s this man in the building who adores you and always says, “Hello, Albert!” when he sees you. But even if he sees me without you, he still says, “Hello, Albert!” We still don’t know each others’ names. But now it’s gone on so long that it’s kind of funny.
I’m an introverted person, and New York can be stressful on a daily basis, in so many little ways. Like just getting from one place to another during rush hour can mean running a gantlet of harried, short-tempered people who all seem to be headed in the opposite direction. And meanwhile, some guy on the subway platform is playing “Volare” on a steel drum. I’m used to it now, but only because I’ve trained myself to grit my teeth and shut a lot of it out. I think that’s why so many people walk around with their earbuds in—it’s a way of retreating from all that stimuli. Somehow, coming home to you, and then being able to walk around the city with you and watch you explore its smells and sounds helps me slow down. You bring the city down to a human-sized scale again, or maybe I mean a dog-sized scale. And I appreciate that about you, Albert, even if you don’t realize that you’re doing it.
A: Whoa, that’s a lot to take in. Okay, maybe this will be easier to answer: What is the worst thing about living with a dog in New York?
TG: Walks in the rain and the cold.
TL: Rainy days.
A: If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?
TL: I would make you not afraid of some things. I don’t know if you remember this, but at the beginning, when you were new to the city, you used to get scared and bark at a lot of things on our walks: bicycles, trucks, motorcycles, skateboards, Rollerbladers, mounted police, little kids. That last one was a huge problem—it kind of freaks out the parents when a dog is barking at their small child. Even if it’s a 15-pound dog. In the early days, I used to get really stressed out; one time I almost broke down in tears when a man on Rollerblades yelled at me because you startled him. He was so mean! On the other hand…I mean, it’s not as if you clotheslined him or anything. Also, dude, you’re 50 years old and Rollerblading up 5th Avenue in the middle of the day? Seriously? Why not go to the park?
Anyways, we had to do a lot of work with you to help you get used to the city and all the different stimuli, and to get you to focus on us instead. It was work, but you made a lot of progress. Even now, though, you still get pretty worked up over a skateboard or a street sweeper. So it’s a work in progress.
TG: One thing? Maybe it would be nice if more of your hair would stay attached to your body.
A: Why won’t you let me eat all the carrots and cheese in the refrigerator? Also, sometimes you eat scallops and don’t give me any. Why do you treat me so unjustly?
TG: Albert, I think you have an eating disorder. You would eat everything if you could. You would end up being 14 inches tall and 150 pounds.
TL: I’m not even answering that question, Albert. There’s a reason your nickname is Piglet.