As The Lawyer and I were walking into his building on Saturday night, Remi’s best friend, Crepe, and his owner, were walking out.
Crepe is a playful, rambunctious Westie, who has always been my favorite dog in the building. He’s cute and spunky and right from the start, he and Remi became best friends. They romp and play fight every time they see each other, and Crepe’s owner, Kelly, has told me that she can tell when Remi and I are in the lobby by the way that Crepe starts getting excited and wagging his tail in the elevator.
Well, I’ve decided to retake my Boards this spring, and while that means that I now have more structure to my days, it also means that driving into the city with the express purpose of walking a dog is sort of time-consuming and annoying. So, last week, I talked to The Lawyer about hiring a midday dog walker for the days when I’m not in the city.
At first, we asked the retired dog walker in the building, who walks his bulldog and a few other dogs, during the week. Unfortunately, he’s starting social security and retiring for real soon, so he’s already letting clients go. Then, I thought about finding a teenager or college student who wants an easy way to make money. Except, I don't know of any in this neighborhood.
So, when I saw Kelly coming out of the building on Saturday night, I took the opportunity to ask who she uses to walk Crepe.
I was not prepared for what happened next.
You see, Crepe does have a regular dog walker. But, he also goes to doggy day care twice a week. Plus, there’s “camp” where a bus comes up and picks up the dogs and takes them to a farm somewhere where they can run free. In the evenings, he also has a trainer. Two, in fact. One is for group training, and the other is for individual. Kelly likes the individual trainer better, but when she leaves town, she boards with the group trainer.
And on…and on…and on...it went for a full fifteen minutes.
As I slowly began to feel like the worst, least loving dog owner on the block, it got even worse. While the dogs played happily, thus entangling themselves in their leashes and the legs of their owners, it was necessary to give them a few commands. Except, while The Lawyer and I were displaying our crass, middle-classness with “Down!” and “Come!,” Kelly was all, “Touch!” and “Focus!”
“Touch” and “Focus?”
It was the language of the DC dog elite, taught by some expensive trainer (or two), that neither our dog nor his human owners understood.
Afterward, I expressed our failings as puppy parents to The Lawyer, who laughed and responded, “And did you catch that Kelly only works part-time? What would happen if she was working full-time?”
What would happen indeed, internet?
I sent a whiny email to some fellow less-loving, middle-class dog owners on Sunday, relaying the exchange with Kelly and my observation that the competitiveness with schooling and extra-curricular activities has now extended to dogs among the childless upper class in The District.
In response, my friend wrote back,
In response, my friend wrote back,
“At least she hasn’t gotten Crepe massages or swimming lessons yet. Be happy that she’s limiting it to actual dog activities.”
This, internet, got me thinking. I mean, we didn’t get Remi from a breeder. He was adopted from a shelter. He’s already got a leg down on the competition by being an orphan dog who doesn’t know his blood lines or have his AKC papers. But, when it comes to culturing our dog, The Lawyer and I can run with the best of them.
We may have come from a small town in South Florida, but we are a lawyer and a future doctor up in here! And, this particular medical student is home full-time, not part-time, Kelly! If this is what it takes to make sure that our dog can play with the big boys, we are ready!
I mean, why not help Remi to climb the ranks of DC dog society by actually getting him swimming lessons? It will be good preparation for future trips to Florida. Also, instead of wasting money on individual training, we’re going to go the Cesar Millan way and focus on psychological balance. Remi will start yoga, holistic meditation, and Reiki. Then, while I study for Boards, I’ll work on advancing his vocabulary by substituting current commands like “Sit!” or “Wait!” with “Splanchnic!,” “Torsades de Pointes!,” or “Erythroblastosis Fetalis!”
If Kelly wants to see whose dog has the most complicated vocabulary on the block, she doesn’t even know. It’s not even going to be a competition once I put our dog in the ring. Maybe I’ll start speaking to Remi in Spanish, so that he becomes bilingual, or teach him to bark when I mispronounce my Latin.
Shit’s about to get real.
Then, while Crepe mingles with the poor, suburban trash in doggie daycare, we’ll relish in the fact that our dog’s zen mentality and lack of desire to degrade himself with less accomplished dogs of the city allow him to stay home—in the safety of his germ-free, loving home. The fact that he already does so only shows how much he’s already surpassed Crepe in emotional maturity. That is something that The Lawyer and I will be taking to the bank
along with an enormous savings on extraneous doggie crap!
Remi, as he takes a break from authoring his doggie autobiography: Born to Be Better.
(Clearly, Remi is not going to get swimming lessons or Reiki. The little dude is going to get a dog walker, in preparation for his mama going back to school and resuming a normal schedule, and THAT’S IT. In fact, we have a meeting with Crepe’s dog walker on Friday, to see if they can get walked together. That alone is giving this poor, middle class dog owner tachycardia and dyspnea from how much it costs! True story: I could make more money working as a dog walker in DC than as a research assistant at NIH. Then again, I also plan on having human babies someday, and obviously don’t love my dog enough to weigh the cost-benefits rationally.)