Owning a dog while living in a city apartment without a yard means that you spend most of your life walking the dog and picking up poop. Since I adopted Tallulah in February, this has become part of my daily routine, and something that I do without much thought. She and I seem forever to be walking through Portland, sometimes stopping in at the (pet-friendly) hotel I used to work at to say hi, or trekking all the way to the Eastern Promenade, or just sitting somewhere in the Old Port watching tourists act weird and overexcited over lobster-themed t-shirts. This stuff I’d prepared myself for when I decided to become a dog owner. I knew I’d be spending a lot more time outdoors and I’d need to develop more concrete routines and those were things I was looking forward to.
What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the new influx of human interaction that comes with owning a dog in a city, particularly when owning a beautiful, adorable, striking puppy with just about the friendliest face you’ve ever seen.
It’s rare for me and T to take a walk and not be stopped by a stranger who asks what kind of dog she is, to which I usually just reply, “A mix” because saying that she’s a Catahoula Leopard Dog invites an even longer conversation and I’m not walking my dog to be social–I’m walking her to get some exercise so leave me alone, please. While sitting with Tallulah, creepy men have used her as an excuse to invite themselves over to leer at me/her. I’ve had parents of toddlers use the presence of my dog to serve as the launching point of a lesson on “what sound does a dog make?” which, as you can imagine, invariably confuses and upsets Tallulah. It’s okay, T. Children shrieking and grabbing at my face always pisses me off, too.
The worst thing, though, that happens while walking my dog are when people start baby-talking at my dog from, like, 20 feet away, which causes T either to become so rambunctious she jumps and cries out and lunges at the person, or she pees herself in the middle of the sidewalk. The baby-talker then typically uses this as a reason to come and pet my dog without asking, which leads to the baby-talker being jumped up on and mouthed on the arm by the dog they’ve upset. The baby-talker then says something passive aggressive to me–something like, “Still got a lot of training to do, huh?” OMG.
What on earth possesses people to behave that way around strange dogs? I get that they’re cute–believe me, I get it–but when the owner is clearly annoyed and the dog is jumping and yelping in response to you, wouldn’t common sense tell you to cut it out and move along?
So this is my sad, internet plea to the strangers of Portland, tourist and otherwise: please, please, please stop petting my dog. Or if you really want to, ask me first and when I say no, don’t call me a bitch (no pun intended–Tallulah is spayed, anyway). Okay?