Monday, August 22, 2011

Real Housedogs of Suburbia

A long walk to North Avenue Beach tonight, amongst the shimmering lights of Chitown, reminded me once again how happy I am to be home in my city.

Recently, Iwanski and I spent some time in the Southwest suburbs. We were full-fledged suburbanites. We drove everywhere and spent lots of time hanging out in the backyard, watching two big puppies duke it out on a daily basis in their playful puppy way that sometimes seemed a bit violent to me. Just for the record, we were housesitting and dogsitting at my sister-in-law’s house whilst she and her family whiled away the hours in southern Califor-ni-ay.

And it wasn’t so bad. For one thing, there was a pool in the yard. And it was like 80 degrees and sunny pretty much every day. And there were forest preserves close at hand – well, at least close at car. We enjoyed many a hike in the forest and prairie, and even got lucky enough to see a coyote, three garter snakes, and a pair of fluttering bluebirds.

But Lordy, oh Lordy did I miss my city. And I missed my cats. Yes, I missed the little pukesters – no, I did not miss their twice-weekly bouts of vomiting, but I did miss them and their quiet, unassuming ways.

For I realized once again just how different cats are than dogs – and just how much easier it is to take care of cats than dogs.

While we were on suburban dogwatch, it became a daily ritual to be awoken at 7 AM by pacing, collarbell ringing wide-awake big-ass puppies. Here’s a fun fact for your doggy facts repertoire: an English Setter and a Labradoodle are definitely NOT your garden-variety little yippy dogs. They are freakin’ huge.

Anyway, once the 7 AM pacing and collarbell ringing took place – one time, accompanied by a huge-ass Labradoodle jumping up on the bed next to the snoozing Iwanski – either I or Iwanski would drag our sleepy butts down the stairs to let the puppies out in the yard for their morning constitutional. If I were lucky enough to be on morning puppy pee pee duty that day, then my stumble down the stairs also consisted of having a Labradoodle’s nose nuzzled against my butt, trying to sniff me in a most unpleasant way, while I shoo’ed her away. Nothing like having a puppy’s nose shoved up your ass first thing in the morning! I cringe just thinking about it.

And then of course there was the morning that I was having quite a lovely sleep-in, with Iwanski on morning puppy patrol, when I heard Iwanski yelling “No, Ginger! No!” downstairs…and came down the stairs to find out that Ginger (the big ole’ Labradoodle puppy once again – poor pup) had chewed through a bottle of Pepcid that she had stolen off the kitchen counter. Luckily, she had not actually eaten any of the pills – but she had definitely chewed through the bottle.

And maybe it’s just me, but puppies sure do play rough. I don’t know if I could ever really get used to the biting, clawing, pinning down, and mounting behaviors that happen during puppy play.

I can’t imagine our cats ever sniffing our butts, or eating a medicine bottle, or violently playing—well, okay, the cats are a little violent when they play, but they are much smaller and definitely quieter.

Clearly, dogs are more of a challenge to deal with than cats.

But the dogs weren’t the only challenge for my “urban elitist” self. Although Iwanski and I tried to keep as active as possible during our suburban housewatch, we pretty much had to drive every where that we went. Relaxing? You betcha. Healthy? Not so much.

So when we took the el train back to downtown after our suburban stint, and we arrived home to find our tiny quiet housecats giving us a little “meow” and weaving a little tail-rub around our legs, I just took a deep breath and felt so very grateful to be home.

And when we walked 8 miles in the city the next day, and 7 miles the day after that, and we spent a lovely Friday night on a 50th floor Marina City balcony with our good friend Jonathan and his fun Texan cousin, I felt even more grateful.

And tonight, as we gazed at the twinkling lights of the city from the shores of shimmering Lake Michigan, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more grateful to live here.

I am home. And I love my city.


Mom said...

Like you, I am not a dog person. Unlike you I am a suburbanite who loves living in my suburb. I do have to do a lot of driving, and I do envy the convenience of being close, but it all seems too crowded together. I like the space of suburbia. Like you, I love coming home.

Maria said...

Two of my favorite people live in the city in Chicago. Have you heard of Mount Prospect? They did the exact same thing that you did and housesat for some people there. Said it was the longest week of their lives.

Barb said...

I've always lived in "the burbs" but from time to time I get jealous of city living. It must be so nice to be able to walk to most everywhere you need to go. We have a little area here that have restaurants, shops, doctors, grocery store, movie theatre, bowling alley etc with condo's and apts on top. I longing dream of living there. And yes, we have a dog ~ but she doesn't know it. No rough play for her.

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