How I became a dog owner for the first time. And regretted it.

I envy people who have total command of their dogs. I’ve owned in my time  three of them  outright.  Although I shouldn’t  count the first one whom  we got early in our marriage. He —they’ve all been males—lasted  a very  brief time.  It was our first apartment on a corner across  from Gage Park High School.  We lived in one of the first floor units.  A sweet elderly couple, the Denemarks, warmly welcomed us when we moved in.  They had lived in the other unit on the first floor for decades and had grown old with the building.

My dad’s cousin was our landlord, the absentee variety.  Despite  our kinship—which was technical at best, he treated us like any other tenant. Except he allowed us to have a dog.

It was a  nondescript breed we bought at a dog pound.  Small, brown and white, and, by all outward appearances, pleasant and a bit lively.  It  barked a lot like many young dogs tend to do.

We assumed everyone in the universe, or at least in our building, would love it. Unconditionally.

But in the Denemark universe, dogs were a nuisance.   Of course we had no idea of this  at the time.

We would take the dog out  on a leash when necessary so he could relieve himself conveniently  on the parkway grass  along the sidewalk  next to the building.  It seemed like a harmless inoffensive thing to do.

But the  Denemarks disagreed.  Emphatically.  Which we soon discovered.

They had lived so long in my relative’s building that they,  in a somewhat delusional way,  thought it was theirs.

Let me  interject why we assumed it was the Denemark’s ire that we provoked.

In the short time we lived in the apartment, we subscribed to magazines that  always seemed to arrive a little late.  We realized after a while that  the Denemarks would read them first before they left them in the hallway.  Earmarked  pages and coffee stains led us to this conclusion.

The Denemarks, for this reason, began to fall in our esteem.  They lost what had been our absolute  trust. They were not what they seemed. But we pretended whenever we bumped into them that nothing had changed .  We pardoned them for co-opting  our magazines.  Age has its prerogatives, we felt.

But things quickly  turned ugly.

One morning, upon leaving our apartment we nearly stepped on what appeared to be the droppings of a small dog.  Like our own. They neatly  rested on the cover of a Time magazine. The latest edition.  The one we hadn’t gotten yet.At this point we  began to rethink the wisdom of having a dog.

And in a few short days we no longer did.


Leave a comment
  • Well dog gone, good looking pooch. Was it from the dog or the Denemarks?

  • The general problem is akin to Steve Dale trying to make the legal conclusion that a disabled person had a right to a dog in an apartment building to bark when the doorbell rang.

    I might have thought about trying the magazine thing on someone I know, except that the mail boxes are locked.

Leave a comment