(james benedict brown) on the road

Becoming a dog lover…

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 19 July, 2006

Last night, at about 21h30, Charlotte and I went for a walk. Above us, the sky was the deepest of blues that was on the verge of turning completely black. Ahead of us, in a narrow strip above the city’s toothed horizon was a band of intense colour: orange that turned to bronze that turned to blue.

Pulling us along were two dogs. Yes. Two dogs. It’s complicated enough with one, but last night we found ourselves looking after a nameless five month old Boxer-Danish cross bread. Realising it would be hard to call him to heel without a name, Charlotte settled very rapidly on Chatton (Fr: ‘kitten’). He’s not expected to spend more than a few nights with us: the recent arrival of Charlotte’s other new canine companion (the beautiful Maya) has already required a significant amount of adaptation. Maya arrived from Chandler last week, the orphan of a now empty house. She’s nine years old, and keeps herself to herself. She dotes on her mistress, and has very little energy for running or playing games. It has been hard enough for the four cats to adapt to having her around; Chatton by comparison has ten times the energy. It just would not work.

But as we walked the three blocks from the apartment to Parc Sir Wilfred Laurier, I could tell it was going to be hard for us to say good bye to Chatton. I am by no means a dog lover, but I had to agree every time Charlotte, Charlotte’s neighbour or the people we met in the park said “beh, il est vraiment beau”. Skinny but muscular, youthful but not always bouncing, he’s a gorgeous animal. Unlike our other animal companions, his hair is short and his skin is taught. His legs and tail seem too long as he gallomps around the apartment, but when you take him for a walk he suddenly becomes this eager, elegant and rather suave dog. He does pull on his leash very hard though. Charlotte tried taking both dogs leads at the same time, but found herself quickly pulled in two directions by the two wildly different dogs.

Parc Sir Wilfred Laurier, like many others in Montréal, has an enclosed dog pitch, where owners can bring their animals and let them off the leash. Enclosed by a wire fence, it’s a not immediately appealing patch of grass and moss, with a few picnic tables for anyone brave enough to try eat anything with dozens of friendly dogs sniffing around. But as the sky finally dimmed completely, I stood in the middle and began to understand the joys of owning a dog. At any one time there were at least a dozen dogs running, playing and sniffing around. Their owners seemed familiar with the social protocol here… unless you knew someone already, no conversation could be initiated until your dogs met and started sniffing each other’s arses. After that you would be able to break the ice with a compliment about the other’s pet. From time to time, I ran about with Chatton, or tried to nurture Maya into doing a little more than just watching from the sidelines. I didn’t break into much of a sweat, but by the time we left after thirty minutes or so, I felt happily exhausted. Charlotte networked at every opportunity, asking other owners if they knew of anyone who might want a beautiful dog like Chatton. I floated around, enjoying the frenzy of activity that frequently swirled around my feet. Late on this cool summer’s evening, I played the game I’ve played everywhere I’ve been this year, and imagined what it would be like if all this was really permanent: that I really did live here; that I really did have a five month old cross-breed; that I really was the kind of man who’d own a dog…

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