Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The days are just packed


While standing at the center of a perfect storm of yapping, licking, frenzied small dogs, I looked at Greg a few feet away with a camera in front of his face and lifted my arms out, arched my back and shouted, "I am the Dog Messiah!" Greg chuckled. The other dog-owners in the dog park seemed startled. And the little dogs running around my feet began to run faster. Tiny, furry, blurry creatures.

It was a clean day--no clouds, little pollen, fresh air (for Manhattan). The early April sun was working according to specifications, throwing down ray after ray of lukewarm sunshine, and there was a slight breeze like the memory of March. Next to the dog park was a gazebo, which was perched on a cliff and afforded one a commanding view of Fort Tryon Park. Inside that gazebo a couple was framed by an arch and they were silhouettes and the silhouettes moved together across the patch of blue sky visible thru the arch and they kissed.

The Dog Messiah inspires love in all species.

We--G, the dog, me--already had a full day of walking and doing before even arriving at the Ft. Tryon dog park. We'd been to the Inwood farmer's market, for one thing. The Inwood farmer's market is an abbreviated spin-off of the larger downtown markets--it doesn't have the variety, but does offer some appealing items, such as chocolate milk with real cocoa and milk piped directly out of an everyday, normal, not-trapped-in-a-pen farm moo-cow. In a bottle, not in a carton or plastic jug. And fresh fruit. The fruit is obviously fresh, by the way, because it looks more like Cezanne's fruit than Kroger's, if you know what I mean.

We woke up early, for us, and saddled the dog into his harness/leash combo, which looks more like some weird Victoria's Secret s&m thing than an accoutrement for dogs (I've discovered that most dog-related items seem inappropriately conducive to de Sade's sex life. Waffles's favorite toy of the moment is a pink rubber bowling pin, for instance). Greg carried the dog downstairs, placed him on the sidewalk, and the dog immediately shot off towards the park across Broadway, reached the limit of the leash, and fell backwards. Cute.

"Nice day," Greg pointed out, just in case I'd failed to notice.

"Yes."

"Why don't you call [Friend 1] and see if he and [Boyfriend 12] want to get brunch?"

"He's stuck doing [Task 23] until like Wednesday. I don't want to bother him."

We walked down Broadway, and Waffles did half his business. Waffles has a specific order and location to each of these business transactions--first is the kind we don't have to pick up (near the curb just outside the building), and then he does the second, more labor-intensive business transaction. The first order of business went down, the dog squatting rather than lifting (naturally, squatting is always best for the back, a concern for Dachshunds), and looking around with a kind of dull "Jesus, I can't believe I have to do this in public stop staring at me do I get a treat yet?" expression.

"We forgot the laundry," I said to Greg.

"I'll take it later."

At the farmer's market, children were unexpectedly obsessed with Waffles. We've been taking him there for nearly a year and the most that's been required of him was to sniff a few asses and not eat the turkey sausage unless it was offered to him (the turkey sausage guy is erratic with his offerings). But yesterday each kid we passed wanted to touch our dog or pull his tail or tug on his ears. One kid, about 7, dive-bombed our dog. We were standing in front of the honey distributor debating over the kind of honey we wanted when the kid suddenly appeared between Greg and me, stuck his chocolate-stained hand out, and pressed it against Waffles's back. "There! I touched the dog!" he shouted, then disappeared again.

Waffles was indifferent. He tried to sniff at the chocolate hand-print. I washed the print away with some water (chocolate is bad for a dog). A bit later the same kid returned with friends and they all got down on their knees and hugged and petted the dog. It was like a flash mugging. They approached the dog, cooed and petted and hugged and tugged, then ran off again.

An older lady stooped down, dangling bags of tempting turkey and duck and fruit in front of Waffles, to pet him. "Such a fine German face," she said to me. "Tag," she said to Waffles. I was tempted to raise Waffles's front paw and exclaim, "Sieg heil!" but knew Greg would disapprove.

"I'll have to go to Rite Aid for toothpaste," I told Greg. "We're out."

"There's another tube under the sink. We're fine."

"Oh. Cool."

At some point, I was forced to return to the apartment and took the opportunity to drop off the two quarts of milk we'd bought. While I was gone, Greg took the same opportunity to meet up with [friend 2], who sells shirts at the market, and exchange phone numbers for [task 5]. When I returned to the market, we bought honey, artesian bread from a clearly whacked-out lesbian from Vermont, and blackberry jam. Then on to the Inwood Hills Park dog run where Waffles sniffed and chased and barked and demanded to be removed the instant three pit bulls entered (I don't mind pit bulls. Greg and Waffles are both suspicious of them, tho. Since my mom's tiny little adorable dog was recently mauled to death by one, I usually concede the suspicions are warranted).

"Goddamn ghetto dogs," Greg said as we led Waf out of the dog park.

"Dachshunds are more vicious than pit bulls," I said, lamely, citing a recent study on aggressive dog breeds.

"Dachshunds weigh 10 pounds--who's gonna take an aggressive Dachshund seriously? You can just pick him up and put him in your bag. Try that with a pit bull."

"That reminds me. We're almost out of dog food."

We walked out of the park, then back in because Waffles wanted to chase squirrels. It's his hobby, and he's quite good at it, but has yet to catch an actual squirrel. He's treed plenty of them.

I like watching Greg and Waffles run around parks treeing squirrel after squirrel. The two make an unlikely team because Greg's so tall and awkward and Waffles is so short and agile; it's fun to watch the dog weave and dodge and Greg try to keep up without tripping over himself.

We walked to 207th, to a pet store, and Waffles selected a toy and we selected his food, and I hauled the food around in my bag during the hike to and then through Fort Tryon, to the small-dog dog run. We wandered past the Cloisters, letting Waffles sniff and explore as much as he wanted.

"Your nose looks awful, babe," Greg said to me at one point. The dog had taken to gnawing on my nose, and I had some scabs which looked more like dried sinus drainage.

"I know. Neosporin and lotion, that's all I know to do."

Waffles buried himself in a tulip patch growing beside the path to the dog run. The tulips were in full bloom, bouncing sunlight from their petals like ninjas deflecting throwing-stars or something. Pink, lavender, yellow cups. And later Waffles stood on a stone wall and looked out at the Hudson, which was laced with sunlight, blue from the sky, choppy from a lazy wind. More squirrels were chased. Miles were covered. Waffles's paws click-clacked on the uneven park asphalt, and his tail shot left then right then left. Sniff this. Stop, stare. Sniff. Click-clack. His dog-tags jangled cheerily as he walked.

"I go in Wednesday," Greg said. "It's not such a bad job. I just wish it were regular."

"Give it time," I replied.

The gazebo hovered above us as we climbed the walk up to the dog park, and it looked like a stationary UFO, curves and arches made of stone. The couple was already there, holding hands and looking out over Fort Tryon at the blooming dogwoods and tulips and pockets of picnic blankets and semi-naked flesh and, in the distance, sun-flashes from cars passing along Broadway. From their viewpoint I imagined the whole park looked like a daytime fireworks show.

The dog park at Fort Tryon differs from the dog park of Inwood Hills in a few ways. First--and best--is the fact that the Ft. T dog park is segregated: small dog park, and big dog park behind it, while Inwood's dog park is all-inclusive, allowing small dogs to mingle with pit bulls. Secondly, the Ft. T dog park is carpeted with woodchips, while the Inwood Hills dog park is full of tiny pebbles. The Ft. T dog park is also in a more beautiful place, surrounded by a great deal of nature; the other dog park is next to a baseball field.

There were a few dogs and people in the small dog park. Next to a tree, someone had set up a table covered with brightly-colored cloth and some bunting and a sign on the tree: "Happy Birthday!"

On the table were gift bags. There was a cake. There were pictures in frames of a tiny dog in various states of repose. I wasn't sure if the gift bags were for the birthday dog, or for the other dogs wandering in to the dog park, or if the birthday dog's owners had sent out invitations to other dogs. In any event, Waffles was not offered a gift bag, and no other dogs seemed to be attending the party.

The people in the park--a mother, her children, her husband, her mother--sat on a log and stared at Greg and me for a while. Waffles ran up to one of the three dogs in the park, and sniffed butts, then retired to a corner to lick himself. The three other dogs fell over one another running back and forth along the fencing, yapping at shadows and attacking a birthday balloon.

Greg asked the family, "So who is having a birthday?"

The husband replied, "The one with the blue harness." And the one with the blue harness, a fur-ball of anxiety, took that moment to slip out of the fence door as another dog owner entered, and make a run for it. I chased the blue-harnessed birthday dog down, coaxed him back inside, was thanked.

The new entrant into the dog park, a long-haired Dachshund, greeted the birthday dog with some indifference, then turned herself to Waffles, who shied away and found something interesting to sniff in a far corner.

A few more dogs entered, and clouded around me for some reason, so I proclaimed myself the Messiah of Dogs, which seemed to unnerve the other dog owners but definitely amused Greg. And the couple in the gazebo kissed as the wind slipped through trees and across wood-chips and through fencing to remind us all of forward momentum, and disturbed the 'Happy Birthday' sign, and shook the brightly-colored tablecloth and bunting. Waffles sniffed the wind, wagged his tail, and nosed the gate of the dog run. Greg and I took that as an indication he was ready to go home.

"We have toothpaste?" I verified with Greg on the way back.

"We're set. Don't worry about it."

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