Thursday, May 16, 2019

Where the Dogs Are

If you're looking for me, you'll find me out on the Freeport Nautical Mile almost every morning at 5:30 AM. That guy on the left is Toby, looking askance for some reason or other. He comes with me. Actually he looks like he might be asking me to take him out. I can't read his mind, so I just read his face as best I can.

If you're a teacher, you might know what stress is. If you're a chapter leader, especially of a large school, you might know even better. There are a lot of ways to deal with stress. Some people meditate. Some get a punching bag. Some write blogs on the internet, or join Facebook groups.

Actually, I've done a few of those things myself. The thing that really makes me lose my stress, though, is walking with this little creature a few times a day for around 30 minutes.

I watch him walk, and stop, and smell absolutely everything and I wonder what's on his mind. Usually I figure it's pretty straightforward. A tree. Let me smell it and determine whether or not it's pee-worthy. Let me turn around five times before I decide exactly the right leg to raise at precisely the perfect angle. This doesn't work. That doesn't work. But this is perfect.

Sometimes it's a social outing. There are dogs Toby really likes. If he sees one of them, he'll stop walking and bound toward their direction. He used to be friendly with every dog, but the idiots who live across the street from me let their pit bull out unsupervised and he tried to attack Toby. I picked him up and shouted at the dog until he ran away. Teacher voice can be a very intimidating thing. Now Toby is sometimes scared of big dogs and barks at them before they can bark at him. I've gotten him to stop doing that most of the time, by saying, "Good boy," first, and giving him a treat when he's quiet.

Toby lived on the streets of Puerto Rico before Animal Lighthouse Rescue found him, brought him here, and gave him to me, so maybe he knows something I don't. I have no idea how this little guy got through Hurricane Maria. I got through Sandy, but that was a relative walk in the park. He's generally friendly, but if you try to cut the hair on his paws he can get outright hostile. 

We walk by a bunch of bars on the Nautical Mile, and there are always people at the entrances, showing people in, or maybe charging admission. Every one of them is friends with Toby, who thinks God placed them there so that they could pet him. For all I know, he's right. He's a lot more social than I am, saying hello to absolutely everyone who will look at him. I meet a lot more people now that I travel with him.

If you have a stressful job, I suggest you get a dog. They require less care than children but more than cats. But they kind of make you see the world through their eyes, which is a good thing if it's hard to juggle everything in front of your own.
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