Recently, my family got a rescue dog. Boomer. I never grew up with dogs (only cats, a guinea pig, and the occasional ill-fated fish or hermit crab), and I am very unskilled at relating to them. Supervising is not my strong suit. No siblings, never a camp counselor or teacher, no desire to parent in any way. Ever nonplussed about how to speak to dogs or children, a fallback baby voice usually emerges and I make myself cringe.
But Boomer and I, we can hang. Which is largely because he is an impeccable animal. In the entire two weeks with my parents, I’ve never once heard him bark.
He is friendly and buoyant, yet obedient and polite: he sits on command, he picks up his leash, he does not sniff crotches. Big enough to roughhouse, but incredibly gentle, even with our two cats.
So when I brought him along to my favorite Sacramento coffeehouse one morning, he was a perfect angel, while I was the one who felt the need to behave.
How does one enact the role of dog owner, exactly?
Do you tie him up outside, or bring him in?
If you bring him in and he lies nicely at your feet while you work, what happens when you have to use the bathroom?
It was interesting to feel so self-conscious, even about something as simple as how to hold a leash. (Confidently but casually.)
Along with the self-consciousness came a sort of Goffmanian sense of performativity. Here was a whole new gender front to try: middle-class feminine girl with docile lab.
ps i love the layout of this blog, the fact that you can put captions, and, well, you.