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A Dog’s Life

I love my morning walks to the deli with Paquita. So does she. Like all dogs, she really thrives on routine and has come to learn what my different shoes mean. At the sound of my opening the front closet door she will race to see which shoes I pull out. Flip flops she most definitely should expect a trip to the deli. The dejected walk she makes to her bed at the sight of my gym shoes and high heels would make me sad if I weren’t so proud of how perceptive she is. She pathetically plops down as if to say, “Time to make my bed and lie in it…for several hours.” Sigh.

I’ve mixed up the routine so that each part of the ritual has its own meaning for her: WALK! Each act — tearing off paper towels for picking up poop, getting out her leash, gathering $3.70 for my morning papers and coffee — is enough to make her shake all over and frantically follow me everywhere her whole body saying, “Can I go? Can I go? Can I go? Are we going? Are we going? Are we going?!?!!”

Saying, “Yes, you’re going, don’t you worry!” only gets her more excited and she doesn’t quite believe it till her harness is buckled. Ask her if she likes coffee and you’ll be met with a frantic wimper/bark. She doesn’t actually like coffee (she’s more of a white wine or lager girl), but she knows it equals a trip to the deli.

Some mornings I like to trick her by waiting till she goes back to sleep with Christian. I’ll quietly collect my change, carefully tear off a paper towel, slowly ease open the closet door and slip on my shoes then say, “Coffee?” The time it takes her to scramble to the front door depends on how deeply she has buried herself in the covers, but it is never more than a few seconds. She trips over herself on the slick hardwood floors and comes to a skidding halt.

She reacts in this same way when the sun shines on a pillow from 9:00 till 11:00 each morning. Yelling “Sunshine!” will make Paquita drop whatever she’s doing, run to the sunshine-y pillow and flop on her side to soak up the rays. Her mouth hangs open with her lips pulled back, and I could swear she’s smiling. She really likes the morning sun.

Sundays are the quietest as many of the shops don’t open or open later than usual. Today we passed our neighbor with a boy Yorkie that really loves Paquita and our other neighbor with his mutt Rocky who Paquita wants to kill. Then I saw the scruffy old white guy who “drives” an equally old greenish brown Dodge Demon. I say “drives” in quotes because he never really drives it. He moves it from parking space to parking space and generally spends his day drinking a cold beer and smoking outside of the deli talking to various people. We continued along and the Cuban woman who works at the Latina Cabana lit up when she saw me. “Well hello!” But Paquita isn’t allowed inside so we just waved and said to have a great day.

I passed the man who sweeps up the sidewalk and empties the trash cans without saying hello. He doesn’t like dogs and gets really mad if you try to throw away poop in his garbage cans. Paquita was fixated on a smell and wouldn’t budge as he swept closer and closer to her. I’m sure he was trying to scare her but she didn’t budge. Something must have smelled really good to her.

Finally we reached the deli just as the old Pakistani man who is friends with Sherman, the deli owner, was coming out. I had scooped up Paquita and was holding her in my arms when he saw me. “Oh, hello! Good morning,” he said. “Good morning!” I replied. He started to go on his way then stopped and said, “People say when they have a baby they are happy. But when people have a dog, God is happy.”

So am I.