Dog sitting vignettes
One of my favourite things about living in North Philly is the constant exchange of cultures. I love when friends from other neighbourhoods visit so I can watch their reactions to a foreign environment. Moreover, I enjoy watching my neighbours’ reactions to my non-North Philly friends/visitors. There was a point last year when I was probably unhealthily addicted (redundant adverb?) to culture shock. I think that has subsided for now. On various occasions I have had the pleasure of witnessing some cultural exchange transcended to the dog world.
Meg, a corgi mix, was visiting from D.C. while her parents went to a Sigur Ros concert in Philly. She was used to fine dining and comfortable living. I took Meg on a walk. She became very anxious. She jumped away from little children wanting to pet her. Meg was appalled at all the trash on the sidewalks. She reacted in fear toward the cats on the street. “What are ya doin here? You don’t belong! Get outta here!” said the cats. Pit bulls are the majority race around here. People aren’t afraid to verbalize when they see foreigners who look different. “Daaaaaang. That is a short‑a** stubby‑a** dog!” said the people. Gotta have thick skin to survive here, Meg, who has since moved to the wonderful Bay Area.
Wilson, a 7 lb terrier mix, stayed with us for a week before moving to NYC to start his fashion career. One day, my roommate came home during lunch to walk Wilson. She found that he had chewed through the wood bedroom door (granted it was hollow) and escaped to the hallway. Unfortunately Wilson snagged and damaged his Burberry sweater on the rough edges of the door. Don’t underestimate the small ones. Sometimes they are the most dangerous.
Niko, a German shepherd, came from another Philly zip code while his family was road tripping down south. We had him for about 4 days. He was an elderly ginormous beast who, in his youth, had gone to school to find drugs and bombs. To our relief, he did not find any drugs or bombs on our block. Several neighbours gave us comical wide-eyed looks, hoping that they wouldn’t be attacked. While walking him, I wondered if it was worth picking up his poop. It seemed silly since 2 feet away there was a dirty diaper, 3 feet away there was another pile of another dog’s poop, and 4 feet away there was a soda bottle full of some dude’s urine. My next door neighbour lapped us on her daily morning exercise circuit. She watched me scoop up Niko’s poop. “Muy bueno! Muy bueno!” she exclaimed to me as she nervously walked past us and kept her distance.