The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 3, 2006


Carlisle Comments
The Year of the Dog

On the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Dog comes around every 12 years. On the Carlisle calendar, every year is the Year of the Dog.

Carlisle dogs live in dog-centered homes, eat slow food, sleep in people beds, and thrive on the sort of "don't fence me in" life common to a Montana hunting hound. They sniff through the woods, track deer footprints, chase squirrels and prowl through neighboring back yards. Many Carlisle dogs have jobs that require them to accompany their people to the transfer station each week. In general, they are laid back and smile a lot.

In contrast, think of New York City dogs. They lead equally dog-centered lives, but their parameters are limited. I spent last weekend with a 12-year-old Australian Terrier and his owner, my college friend. Charlie (the dog, not the friend) looks like a wizened old man with bright, intelligent eyes. He is very short, and he vibrates with the nervous energy of a typical New Yorker waiting to board the cross-town bus.

Instead of chasing balls and Frisbees as Carlisle dogs do, Charlie and his canine neighbors stroll around the block at the end of a leash, sniffing lampposts and signposts instead of trees and blades of grass. Rain or shine, my friend and Charlie do their round-about every morning and evening, a brief ten-minute reprieve from the confines of the apartment.

When it rains, as it did last weekend, Charlie wears a red vinyl raincoat, which no self-respecting Carlisle dog would tolerate. Three times a week a dog-walker takes him out to Central Park for a run, except when he cancels, which happens rather frequently.

Several dogs live in Charlie's building. A King Charles spaniel named Honey caught her tail in the elevator some months ago, and her owner is threatening to sue the building because "the doors close too fast." Has a Carlisle dog ever been in an elevator?

Occasionally Charlie has a playdate with Bennie, a fluffy white mop. They run circles around the aqua-carpeted living room until they fall over, exhausted. His two other canine friends are Sarah and Vanessa. Although I didn't meet them, they are likely to be miniature poodles or Yorkshire terriers, since city dogs tend to be small, the better to fit into taxis and on buses.

All these pampered, well-loved dogs — whether in the city or suburb — share one basic doggy characteristic. They shower their owners with unconditional love and loyalty, make them laugh (mostly), and make every year the Year of the Dog.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito