Saturday, July 6, 2013

A city girl and her dog

Hey everyone!
This is a blog in response to Laura's sad email, and the fact that I've been thinking about blogging for over a week now but haven't been able to think of any individual spectacular thing I've done to blog about. At least, nothing which provided many cool photos.

As a matter of fact, my life lately has consisted of lots of cooking (hooray!), a fair bit of programming, a large segment of visa-worrying, and a good deal of State Park visiting with my dad. The latter might eventually provide cool photos, but here is one to start with, from Conner's Mill:

This particular photo happens to have myself, and Fei, who was known in my last post simply as Dog. (Fei is male - his name is Japanese for 'flying'.) Now we come to an important point. This blog has had passionate foodie posts, and crazy travel posts, but no obsessive pet-lover posts! You've been warned.

I never expected to be a pet lover. No, honestly. I grew up in the New Joisey suburbs and then among the spires of Oxford: a city girl. Even after making a concerted effort over the last year I can still only recognize those bits of wildlife that come up and bite me. Pets are nice; cute to have around, good conversation piece for sympathetic visitors, but generally a bit high maintenance and short on personality. My family has had Fei for a bit over a year now, but I never did pay him much attention. Basically, I won his respect with long walks and belly-rubs, but otherwise we lived only on the periphery of each others' lives. He was nice, but I never quite understood why my parents celebrated getting two kids out of the house by getting a new creature to make a mess of the furniture, want all the food, and generally consume all of their attention. 

Five Reasons to live with a Dog:

1. Friendship
No, we don't discuss physics or philosophy. We don't even gossip about the cute lady dogs. But a dog can't talk, and has no equivalent of, 'how are you?' 'Fine.' You can either mostly ignore his existence, or pay real attention to figure out his moods and how he thinks, and he has to do the same for you.
So I guess, a little inspired by this article (for those who like dogs and Aristotle), I want to try to point out that a dog can go beyond being cute and cuddly to being a real, bona-fide good-or-better-than-human friend.

2. Someone to take care of
So, I can tell you exactly where Dog and I snapped from vague awareness of each other to outright slobbery puppy-eyed mutual adoration. When my mother deposited both of us in West Virginia with a promise to see us only sixty miles down the road. Well, Dog had never walked more than an afternoon in one go, but I couldn't carry him and I couldn't leave him behind, so I had to make sure he got there. I felt so guilty about having boots, and raincoats, and fancy snacks, and practice at all of this.
I walked in the shade and napped through noon because his fur overheated, and became a hitch-hiker to spare him from highway trucks, and every evening I fed, watered, and checked him for injuries before I even thought of going for my own dinner. More than that, simply by merit of the fact that we were both in this together, we were equal, and I wouldn't have believed for a moment anyone who said he was less important than me just because he was a dog.

3. Good for your health
Programming all day? Oh noes! At least every hour I get called up by the plaintive sound of the squeaky toy calling me to play 'chase Fei' (it's like fetch, except he doesn't bring back what you throw). Then later in the evening, there must be the Walk, or the Dog is restless.

No, you may not program without me

4. Common Interests
I have a running partner! We can go out for an hour and a half now and actually run most of it. Also, this means I get to spend an hour and a half in the park every day away from my work and outdoors, and I have an excuse to talk to all the cute guys in the area who have friendly dogs (in actual fact I talk to the much more common average-looking older guys, but in the theoretically possible case of cute guys I could talk to them). Mostly, if it isn't obvious already, I'm just happier outside, and I have a dog who loves running and trails and woods and interesting smells. 
Fei also seems to have picked up the dominant Kochanski family traits. There's this particular look he gives you, when he's about to do something he knows you wouldn't like but it's so worth the consequences. Dumb creature can be as stubborn as anything small enough to be dragged bodily across the floor while resisting tooth and claw possibly could. He's proud enough to climb anything you climb even if he can't get down, and protests terribly about things like ladders and the prejudice of not having been born with hands. 

5. Someone who takes care of you
Have you ever tried to go out for a moody, introspective walk, and taken a puppy along? It just doesn't work. The silly creature is sniffing all the flowers, and getting excited about all the other dogs, and making literal puppy-eyes at all the people, so much that you feel like you're being left out of the joke if you don't laugh about it all.
Besides, dogs are amazing. Who else would've followed a crazy backpacker like me for sixty miles? Fei and I went to what he must have thought was the ends of the Earth, and still has the audacity to follow my every step around the house with a big stupid grin and keep my feet warm when I'm programming. 

Nope, can't help it. I've fallen crazy in love with my handsome ball of fur, and we hope to spend our summer sharing adventures, cuddles and snacks. But I'd better finish this blog post, because he won't sleep until I do and watching him yawn on the carpet always guilts me up to bed. Bon nuit a tous, chiens et humains! 

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