I just celebrated an important anniversary: I have owned my dog, Milo, for one year. I am really a part of a new community: the community of four-legged friends.
The Slope has many mini-neighborhoods that lurk beneath the surface: There is the stroller set, the PTA moms, the coffee-klatschers, the gardeners, the artists, the civic council activists, and the block association leaders. I have done all those, and now that I have a dog, I have become part of the leash-and-collar crowd, too.
It took me a while to become an enthusiastic member of this society of canine canoodlers. At first I avoided park. I didn’t know what to say to the other owners. Having graduated from the sandbox at the playground, I dreaded the small talk, story-swapping, and bragging that I endured for all those years when my kids were small.
I never figured that I would be one of the dog owners who talks to my dog as if he can understand me (he can!) and who knows all the other neighborhood dogs by name (and has no idea of the owner’s name). I never thought I would be standing in the big fields in Prospect Park first thing in the morning, watching Milo play with his doggie “friends” and chatting with the dog people.
I am not even a morning person; I never went to the park before 9 am in my non-dog-owning life, so I never even knew about the dog scene on the Long Meadow. It turns out that the dog scene is the best part of my day. Even in the freezing cold weather, I love to get out early and get to the park.
But the really surprising thing is that I look forward to seeing my human friends as much as my doggie pals.
I used to think dog people — like the woman who talks to everyone in the same high-pitched voice she uses on her canine companion, or the guy who gets mad if your dog takes his dog’s special toy — were just crazy. But now I find that I actually look forward to these ideosyncratics (even the singing dog woman who conducts 20 dogs around her in a symphony of barking).
In fact, the pooch parade is really no different than the other communities I have been part of in my years in Brooklyn: smart, solid folks with plenty of nuts mixed in. But there is always more good than bad, and the off-beat people keep it colorful.
We spend a half-hour together, roaming the park and calling our dogs, and then we split, no strings, no expectations. Maybe we will see each other tomorrow, maybe not.
Call me crazy, but the dog people are my new best pals.
PS 321 mourns Ted Ferretti, the computer assistant, de-facto AV guy, and all-around helper, who died on Valentine’s Day of heart failure. He was only 55 years old, and leaves behind his wife and son, plus hundreds of teachers, administrators, kids, and parents who appreciated his generosity and can-do spirit. …
Fans of Josh Henkin, your wait is almost over. A new novel by the pride of 13th Street, titled “Matrimony,” will be published in October, The Stoop has learned. The book follows Henkin’s 1997 hit, “Swimming Across the Hudson.” Now, if all these great writers would just stop raising families and earning a living, maybe they could write their books a little quicker. …
A Park Sloper may be leading the fight against the Dixie Chicks. The Stoop got an email from a 16th Street resident who vows to “kick the Dixie Chicks out of Brooklyn.” The writer threatened that her “grassroots organization” will boycott retailers who sell Dixie Chicks CDs and to hold a public “barbecue” of Dixie Chick albums. She said she was offended by the Chicks’ “disgusting and un-American comments.” …
Brooklyn Arts Exchange has added two more studios to its cramped Fifth Avenue dance and arts space. On Saturday, Feb. 24, BAX invited its supporters and friends to paint and make minor repairs. …
The Fifth Avenue BID steering committee held another breakfast meeting at Aunt Suzie’s last week to finalize the boundaries of the business improvement district. It’ll run from Berkeley Place to 18th Street. They would have gone all the way to Flatbush, but there are too many “no” votes coming from north of Berkeley, organizers said. But there’s lots of support in the rest of the neighborhood.