With the New Addition

Having a dog is so much better than I’d expected. Being at Baker Beach on a sunny 70-degree Saturday in January is pretty much my ideal winter day, but it’s even better to be there with a dog that races up and down the beach and digs happily in the sand. It always feels cozy to read in front of the heater when the rain finally arrives in February, but it’s much cozier with a shiny black dog stretched out at my feet.

funston

But it took us some time to get used to each other. The first time I took her out for a walk, she somehow wiggled out of her collar and raced furiously around the park, while I stood there panicking and feeling like I’d failed at dog ownership on my very first day.

Mr. WholeHog and I laughed the first time she rolled ecstatically in a pile of leaves, only to realize later that the joke was on us: beneath the leaves, she’d been rolling in a pile of shit.

We learn to keep our socks out of her reach after she ate the foot bed out of one of my slippers while I was in the shower one morning. And we’re still trying to get used to her 6AM wake up calls, when she presses her wet nose against our heads and paws the side of our bed to wake us up.

There were times in those first few weeks when I’d feel spooked when I’d look up and see her sitting silently in the hallway looking at me, but by now I’m comforted by the sight of her. Having a dog who is delighted when I get up in the morning and thrilled when I come home from work in the evenings is life-changing.

bea-bernal

She opens us up to new parts of the City. Even though San Francisco is on the coast, we rarely went to the beach before we had a dog, but these days we’re at Fort Funston, Ocean Beach or Baker Beach a few times a month. We’ve spent more time exploring new (to us) parks, like Heron’s Head Park in Bayview or Mission Creek Park in SOMA. We’re spending more time in Glen Canyon and on Bernal Hill. We’re going to pet stores and dog parks that we’d barely noticed before. In the last few years, I’d realized that spending time outside makes me feel happier, and the dog gets me outside everyday.

She adds new landmarks to our neighborhood. There’s the house where she chased a rat out from behind a planter, the corner where she tried to eat a discarded bagel off the street (and threw a tantrum when we took it away from her), the fallen fruits off the palm trees that she tries to eat, the crack in the sidewalk that she stops to smell. Other dog enthusiasts stop to talk to us when we’re out with her. One day I’m walking her by a grungy neighborhood bar and one of the old timers out front murmurs, “Beautiful” as we pass, and I realize that he’s talking about the dog.

And, as I assume is obvious from these rare blog posts, she remaps our lives, too. Buying a house and working to improve it hasn’t always brought Mr. WholeHog and I closer together, but we’re on the same page when it comes to the dog. She makes us laugh with her audible yawns and the terrific way she stretches her front legs out as if she’s a football referee signalling a successful field goal.

beatree

When Mr. WholeHog and I crate-train her, we stand together in the hallway, listening to the terrible sound of her whining and crying. And the first time we leave her home alone, we crawl down the stairs together in the dark so she won’t see us leaving.

Last year, we usually spent our weekdays off together out on a hike, but this year, we’ve been more focused on dog-friendly excursions, and we usually find a way to place to stop that feels like a treat for us — getting pizza from the Del Popolo truck after a trip to Fort Funston, or checking out a coffee shop in the Sunset on our way to Ocean Beach.

bea-cartomales

This year, we even took her with us to Point Reyes for our anniversary. She loved running around on Limantour Beach and she sat outside with us at Marin Sun Farms while we ate burgers. The drive out to Point Reyes through the rolling farmland east of Petaluma is always beautiful, but it was more entertaining this time, with the dog in the back seat, her nose out the window drinking in the new smells.

 

 

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