For me, these are the dog days of summer.
I am dog-free by choice. But, for the first two weeks of July, I have been dog-sitting for Georgie, my daughter’s Havanese.
Every year, my son-in-law’s family rents a beautiful house in South Bethany, right on the beach. There are no pets allowed. So Georgie has moved in with me.
George is an adorable dog. He is chocolate brown with white socks. His fur is a little blonde on top — it runs in the family. He is affectionate and loving. He follows me everywhere. When I am in the shower, he stands on my bath towel. It has been a long time since anybody has seen me naked. I know he is a dog. But when he stares at me with those big brown eyes, it is very unnerving.
Lovely though he may be, he is still a dog. He requires considerable care and attention. At home, he is satisfied mostly with dog food. Here, he prefers Fractured Prune. At home, his back yard has an electric fence and he can go outside at will. Here, he has to be walked on a leash while I carry a blue poop bag to scoop up any souvenirs of his visit.
I do not choose to dwell in the pooping issue, but it has loomed large in my mind during Georgie’s visit. I even Googled how many times a dog is supposed to poop in one day. There was no definitive answer. So, every night, before the 11 o’clock news, I walk back and forth on the lawn behind my town house with a flashlight and a little blue bag. I just hope the neighbors don’t think I am casing the joint and call the Ocean View police.
In these nightly walks I have learned more about my neighbors. A man a few doors down is a talented singer and guitar player. Under other circumstances, I would enjoy the music. Now I just wish he would stop distracting my dog.
After the first week, I ran out of the blue bags. I went to Petco in Millville for more supplies. Now I have designer bags printed, ironically, with donuts. They are larger than the blue bags. Georgie weighs only 14 pounds, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
I have discovered that there is an etiquette for dog owners out for purposeful strolls with pets. You approach each other slowly to determine if your dogs are going to get along in a friendly fashion. You introduce your dog by name. They introduce their dog by name. You ask about the breed of their dog. It is often a breed you have never heard of — a golden doodle, a cockapoo — but you nod approvingly. You say their dog is adorable. They say your dog is adorable. Then you lead your dogs in opposite directions, returning to your appointed rounds. Dog owners never shake hands. Remember those little blue bags.
Georgie barks at other dogs, people who have the temerity to pass by, and any sudden noise. He also barks at a television commercial for flooring that features a barking dog.
I was tempted to yell at him to shut up, but my daughter says that the vet says that yelling is perceived as human barking. He does get quiet if I put him in his crate.
Georgie’s family comes to visit him every day. He and they vibrate with joy during these reunions. They talk about how lucky I am to have his company. They’re co nvinced that, after two weeks with Georgie, I will not be able to live without a dog of my own. Wrong!
They think that, because I am a widow, I lack companionship.
A few years ago, I had the following conversation with my grandson Drew:
“You should get a dog.”
“I don’t want a dog.”
“You should get a cat.”
“I don’t want a cat”
“You should get a new husband.”
“I don’t want a new husband.”
I told Drew that I wanted none of the above. Living with the adorable Georgie hasn’t changed that.
For one thing, I do have companions. I have Judy Woodruff, Steven Colbert and the Property Brothers.
Yes, I know that President Harry Truman said that, in Washington, if you want a friend you should get a dog.
Cats don’t bark.
Under normal circumstances, you don’t have to walk a husband.
But I’m sticking with the Property Brothers.
By Leslie Milk
Special to the Coastal Point