Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting Peed On

We were in the dog park with a woman who wasn't paying attention to anything but her cell phone. Her large dog was jumping up on us, stalking Bea, and being a general nuisance and she didn't care. I imagine she'd be the same parent who would let her kid destroy a Walmart because she's entranced by a sale on conditioner.

But an amazing thing happened. Another big dog came in and lifted its leg to pee. Right then, the annoying dog put its head right under the peeing dog's leg, and got covered.

You might call it gross - I call it justice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Curb Your Attitude

I wrote the following about Long Island City, otherwise known as LIC.

There was a recent piece of graffiti that said “dog owners are ruining LIC.” Because sweeping generalizations, divisiveness, and graffiti are clearly positive forces. I’m surprised it wasn’t smeared when the writer tripped over their own irony.

Painting every dog owner as a negative influence is irresponsible; the vast majority of dog owners are people who just enjoy caring for a living thing that loves them unconditionally. Having a dog is like having a kid who doesn’t grow up to hate you.

I didn’t like dogs for the first 31 years of my life. But I fell in love with a dog person, and she educated me to understand that there aren’t bad dogs, just bad owners. It makes sense – every time a little boy shrieks on an airplane and his parents do nothing, it’s not the kid that I want choked with a seatbelt extension.

Is this neighborhood filled with bad owners? Since I wasn’t a dog owner until recently, I can see the issue from both sides. Some dog owners are over enthusiastic, treating their dogs like they’re more important than any human being. Some dog owners are under enthusiastic, not policing their dogs’ bad behavior. But is that enough to “ruin LIC”?

I doubt it – since my dog is actually the reason I love it here so much.

My time in LIC was supposed to have an expiration date. My wife and I moved here to save up for a bigger place in Manhattan, since most Manhattan realtors define a two-bedroom apartment as a studio with a bathroom. A three-bedroom is a studio with a bathroom that has a tub.

For the first six months we lived here, we were focused on leaving. We didn’t meet any neighbors, we ate most meals in Manhattan, and we kept to ourselves like we had nuclear launch codes. For six months, we didn’t live in Long Island City – we just slept here.

Things suddenly changed when we adopted our dog, an adorable Beagle/Dachshund mix we re-named Bea Arthur.

Who wouldn't love living here with a dog?

Because we needed to walk Bea, we met our neighbors. Because we had to be home to train Bea out of separation anxiety, we discovered LIC’s restaurants. Because we wanted some outdoor space for Bea, we moved from a high rise at the distant northwest corner of the neighborhood to a brownstone in the heart of Vernon. I love my dog, but I love her more because she gave me Long Island City. She loves Long Island City, too – I know that because she’s comfortable pooping all over it.

Maybe poop is the problem. Irresponsible, selfish people who aren’t conscientious about cleaning up after their dogs can ruin things for everyone. But irresponsible, selfish people are the reason there’s often food garbage on the Vernon Mall and why that yellow hummer is STILL parked in two spots in the Rockrose garage. If you judge an entire group by its weakest members, then every one of us is “ruining LIC” in some capacity. Saying “dog owners are ruining LIC” is based in as much fact as saying “people who cut their sandwiches in triangles are ruining LIC.”

I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in six neighborhoods in Queens, five neighborhoods in Manhattan, one in Jersey, and two each in Boston and LA. I’ve moved around so much, I feel like AC Slater’s backstory before he got to Bayside.

This is the sixteenth neighborhood I’ve lived in, but thanks to Bea Arthur, it’s the first one that I actually feel a part of. Having a dog showed me that Long Island City is a wonderful place with a healthy diversity that doesn’t often exist outside of a college brochure. Even if I wasn’t a dog owner, I would hate to see them removed from that diversity. And not just because dog owners also own more than half of the neighborhood retail.

If you still think “dog owners are ruining LIC,” picture a grown man yelling “Bea Arthur, stop sniffing that dog’s butt!” If that doesn’t make you enjoy life a little more, nothing will.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bea Tries a King Bed

Normally, Bea either sleeps next to our bed on a make shift mattress made from a folded quilt cover, or she sleeps on our couch. Which can be pretty adorable sometimes.

Is this the cutest thing you've ever seen?

We do not let Bea in our bed - it's both to prevent her from being spoiled as well as necessitated by us not having the room, even for a 20 pound little thing like Bea.

Our bed at home is a full one - the downside of a New York apartment is that we have just enough room for me, my wife, Bea, and three shirts. We've debated getting a king bed and just sacrificing the floor space in the bedroom, but that may not work.

"This is our bedroom. It's where we keep our bed and our hopes for a bigger apartment."

By the way, why do mattresses cost several thousand dollars? They're not made of any expensive materials and EVERYONE has one. There's no need for tech support or maintenance either; mattress should never cost ten times the price of an iPod. I'm guessing it's because there's no market for a used mattress. Or maybe there is one and its disgusting.

We're on the road in Boston this weekend, so we decided to let Bea in the hotel bed. It's like a vacation for her, so a bit of spoiling is okay. Letting her on the bed also prevented her from pacing around the room since she gets freaked out by new places.

Yes, it's not super easy to sleep with her there (even when she's happy, her wagging tail whapping the bed is not quiet). But it is super cute.

There are a few wonderful lasting effects of the cuteness - especially when we document them. So I guess we'll be getting a king bed soon.

Bea hanging out with daddy.

THIS is the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are you freaking kidding me?

For the second time in a week, I stepped in dog crap at the new dog park. My fault for being in a dog park at night.

The park is made entirely of gravel, so it's supper easy to clean up poop. And yet some of my neighbors are still lazy (or do it on purpose because they find my stepping in it hilarious).

Either way, I'm glad my new apartment has outdoor space. I'm especially glad that space comes with a hose.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unfortunate Choice of Words

Sara and I are trying to teach Bea recall, so we took her to the dog park and took turns saying, "Bea! Come!" Which was fine, until she didn't move. So I yelled it a few times, quickly. And then I realized I was in public yelling "Bee cum!"


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bea’s First Sleepover

Our friends went out of town for the holiday, and asked us to watch their dog, Leah. Leah (if you don’t recall – or even if you do), is Bea’s best friend (and on again off again lesbian lover). Leah is the only dog that gets Bea to play, which usually involves some chasing, some rolling around, and some mounting. “On again off again” also describes their typical afternoon together.

Oh baby! That's the stuff.

This weekend, Leah did two things for us. One, allowed our dog to act like a dog. Two, reminded us how lucky we are.

Leah is adorable – she always wants to play, and her “sit” is one of the cutest I’ve seen. She can be a handful; she’s almost 2, and clearly has the energy of a puppy (maybe several puppies?) Sara and I are pretty sedentary people, so having an excited dog would be difficult for us. But the thing about Leah that makes us really value Bea is Leah’s bowel control.

I have gotten annoyed by Bea’s finicky nature when it comes to where to poop and when. I am NOT looking forward to the long walks in cold weather while she decides on the perfect patch of grass. But Leah is the opposite. She will poop or pee anywhere. The middle of the street, on someone’s front steps – even in our bedroom (thank god for hardwood floors). And that’s something I just couldn’t deal with long term.

I understand that Leah is nervous to be away from her owners, and that doesn’t help. You can’t explain to a dog that its owners will return in a few days – each time the owners go away, there’s a part of the dog that assumes they’ll never be back.

But she also just pees and poops an awful lot, regardless of where her owners are, and that’s part of her personality. What Leah really showed us this weekend is that all dogs have their issues. Maybe your dog is food aggressive or barks each morning or is terrified of socks. Every person has their idiosyncrasies, and so do our dogs.

And while we’d love for Bea to be willing to chase a ball, friendlier when she meets other dogs, and not terrified of delivery men, all told she is a wonderful dog.

People often tell us that Bea is lucky we adopted her. So are we.

The girls playing together.