On Saturday, Barley and I were out for a little neighborhood stroll. Alongside the sidewalk, there's a big slab that's set several feet above the sidewalk that used to be a tennis court, but a couple years ago ownership of the park changed and the fences came down and now it's just a big slab with weeds growing through it.
I could see a little boy and another person sitting on the slab playing with a remote control car. I thought about crossing the road, but it looked like they wouldn't be able to get up quickly and Barley didn't seem to notice the car scooting around, so we kept on walking.
When we got up closer, the little boy said, "Come up here!" He was probably 3 or 4, which is not in the age range Barley likes when interacting with children, so we declined, but I stood on the sidewalk and chatted with him and the older man (maybe a grandfather?) about his remote control Mater (Cars is one of my favorite Pixar movies, after all). Then he asked me a question I've never been asked before: "Why do you have a dog?"
Why do I have a dog? It seemed a little crazy to tell a little kid that I had a dog because when there wasn't one in my life it felt like there was too much oxygen in the house. I didn't want to admit to a complete stranger that I liked having something around that picked up the popcorn I accidentally dropped on the floor. Mentally, I ran through all of the reasons I like having a dog.
- She's fun. If you know me, you know my motto is stolen from a bumper sticker I saw shortly before graduating from Queens: The truly educated never graduate. To me, school is fun. But I am still teaching enough new classes each year that having more reading and writing to do sounds overwhelming and makes getting another degree impractical, so instead I take my dog to school! Agility is fun. Noseworks is fun. Even obedience and reactive dog classes are fun.
- She's funny. This dog is a total goober. Whether she's jumping onto the dining room table or climbing into the boxes in noseworks class, she's endless entertainment. Recently, she was cranky that Soth and I had been snuggling and reading all morning, so she went into the living room and grabbed Soth's new bed, dragged it into the bedroom where we were snuggled up, plopped it down beside the bed, and then laid down on it.
- She's an explorer. I've always liked where I lived, but the first six months I lived here, I didn't explore very much. Then I got Barley and we got our Doggin' Cleveland book. We've been to 18 different parks out of the book and a couple that aren't in the book. We've explored in Pennsylvania and Alabama together, too. She loves checking out new places and is always excited to visit old favorites. Now, I can say that I love where I live because I've seen just how many beautiful places there are around me!
- She's snuggly. Actually, she's very bad at snuggling. She tries. But, she's so enthusiastic that I usually end up bruised from her attempts to snuggle. She's fluffy, though, so on days when the wind chill makes it feel like it's below 0, there's nothing better than hopping under the covers and letting Barley burrow in next to me.
None of these reasons seemed sufficient on their own and my inquisitor didn't have the attention span for a long answer (and Barley didn't have the patience for a long pause on our walk). I went with the best answer I could think of.
She's my friend.
The little fellow said, "Ah" like it was the most sensible answer he'd ever heard and went back to trying to get Mater to drive in the direction he wanted him to go.