I rounded the corner of the aisle at Luscious Linens-n-Other-Stuff, expecting to encounter bedding. Instead, I encountered a dog–in a stroller! Talk about the phrase “creature comfort.”
Lest you think I faced a little kid pushing a toy stroller containing a faux-fur Yorkie, be assured that this was a living, breathing, salivating, tiny dog, seated in a regular-sized stroller, with a seemingly sane adult woman pushing it. I admit to a double take, but it wasn’t my imagination. Apparently terrier is the new toddler.
My first reaction: Have we entered a new world where dogs are not safe alone at home? Would someone have called Social Services to report this woman had dog abandonment issues if she’d not taken her dog on this outing?
Second reaction: Has it that been that many years since my father-in-law chained his canine beast, Duke, outside his front door so Pops could leave his house when no one was in it? Granted, Duke, a wolf-sized mammal with incisors that could bite through reinforced concrete, overplayed his role, resulting in local officials denying my father-in-law mail delivery and garbage pickup, but Duke maintained his guard duty until nearly toothless.
Surely, though, there is a middle-ground between a stroller dog and a wanton beast, but the world seems to have taken a sizable shift from “dog protecting empty house” to “protecting dog from empty house.” To better understand the shift, I planned to ask the stroller-dog lady the specific reason she would take her dog to a mall, but as I bent to pet the animal, it wrapped its teeth around my index finger and chomped down, hard!
The stroller-pushing woman, in the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard, said, “Muffett, tell the lady you’re teething and that you’re sorry.” Muffett salivated. Short of calling Mall Security to have a dog arrested for trying to kill me, I searched out Customer Service.
“Oh,” said the Customer Service lady, “the dog is so cute, and so much less trouble than a child in the store.” As for my bloodied finger, she assured me they sold health-care items in Aisle 4.
So I left without purchasing any Luscious Linens-n-Other Stuff and drove to my dog-less home, still wondering when dogs took over the world. It isn’t that I never had a dog; I had one about 20 years ago. The difference was that I had low expectations of his abilities. I expected, as everyone did back then, that he would protect our house, although whether or not he’d wake up during a robbery was questionable since sleep was his favorite (and most frequent) activity.
As for his socializing with me outside the house, this was a lost cause since he wasn’t all that nice to me inside the house.
My youngest son, still mad at me for sending that dog to “the kennel in the sky” at the age of 18–the dog’s age, not my son’s–called today to tell me he’s thinking of adding a Shih Tzu to his household. I asked him who will care for the pet since he and his wife work all day and it is against societal rules to leave your dog alone. He then read from a brochure:
“Doggy Date is a daycare center offering a loving environment that meets the developmental and socialization needs of your dog. Your dog will experience inside and outside play all morning, be given a nutritional lunch, and then settle down for an afternoon nap . . . .”
I couldn’t help myself. I interrupted. “Do they role play?” I asked. “I mean, do they get in a circle and have the ‘teachers’ explain how a Chihuahua can protect itself from a Great Dane bully? Do they have dress-up day? Do they bring ‘Show and Tell’ because I can only imagine what a dog might bring . . . .”
My son hung up on me.
Some have suggested a dog would keep me company in my Golden Years, but canine-care rules have changed too much for me to take their advice. I like being free to go out at will, have no interest in taking a dog to the mall, and do not want to pay for it to sniff other dogs’ behinds all day, even in a loving environment.
My finger has now healed and I am ready to venture to the mall again. This time, though, I’m taking along a fake cat and using it as a decoy.