Walking the dog

I didn't used to be a dog person. In my family growing up, we typically had cats. We had dogs, too, but they lived out in the back yard and weren't really full-fledged members of the family. I always knew that as an adult I'd have lots of cats, but I never thought I'd have dogs. Biffle and Ursa were the ones who turned me around. Sometime in our third year together, Biffle adopted a chow puppy named Ursula, and although I was initially pretty skeptical, I quickly grew to appreciate her. She was almost pathologically unwilling to let anyone come into the house--the barking was incredible (this is because she was a chow, I think), but she was very sweet and smart, incredibly devoted, and when she died, the house felt really empty to me. Within a few months we adopted Baxter, and the rest is history.

I remember one day when I was walking Baxter, realizing how different a walk feels when you have a dog along. I'd taken lots of walks throughout my life, of course, but I realized that when I was walking with Baxter, I got to enjoy her enjoyment, her sniffs and tail-wagging; I got to notice the things she was noticing and talk with her, tell her "Good dog" just for the joy of watching how much faster she'd walk. With Baxter, my walks had new textures and layers, new resonances that I didn't know I was missing before I became a dog person.

One of the reasons I wanted to have a kid is that I figured the same thing would happen. I figured there are whole parts of the world that were invisible to me, that would become visible if I had a kid. And that does seem to be the case. Tonight, walking home from a friend's house, Maybelle was strapped to my chest, and I talked to her the whole way. She was peering out of the top of her Baby Bjorn, and I kept being attentive to see what she was noticing--the street lights, the tree branches, the smell of fried fish, the sound of a siren far away.

She was wearing a fetching outfit today, so we took some pictures of her. Note how much bigger she's gotten since her first photo shoot with Benya.


Elizabeth said...

I have very fond memories of Ursa, and how she'd always know it was me when I would come over. She had an uncanny 6th sense about people approaching the house.

That is very cool, how you're noticing things in a different way through Maybelle's eyes and other senses.

Enjoy your walks!!

- b

Sarah said...

That is quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Cate Bush said...

What an adorable photo of Benya and Maybelle. She sure is chunking up. It's cool to read about your awareness with Maybelle too. To see invisible layers sounds pretty awesome.

Alison said...

B, I also remember Ursa's excitement about you very fondly! She could hear your truck and Walter's car when they were literally blocks and blocks away from the house, and she'd just be overjoyed.

Elissa said...

Oh Alison! Maybelle is SO precious! Congratulations!