Just up the hill from my small Georgetown apartment was a large park with several grassy areas, tennis courts and woods with a stream running through it where one could take a break from the concrete. No surprise that it was a popular place for the local residents to bring their dogs. In the early mornings and in the early evenings, the park was filled with running, catching, barking and fetching dogs - and their humans.
Unaccompanied by a canine companion, I could walk through the park as if invisible. On the few occasions when I had custody of a friend's dogs, however, suddenly I became quite noticeable. The leash, the collar, the wagging tails were my passport, the secret handshake that grants entrance into the private club. Fellow dog walkers and owners came over to say hello and chat. With two dogs trotting close to my heels, I was immediately embraced within the doggy community. The only thing more effective at attracting attention would've been pushing a carriage with a cute baby in it.
Something similar and equally interesting has happened now that Kel and I are dog owners. We do not have a public park nearby to take Ike to, but when we bring him with us on errands, people want to come over and meet him (it doesn't seem to matter that Ike really isn't interested in meeting them). Saying hello to Ike is an introduction to us and usually the segue into a long conversation.
Doggy aunts and uncles have appeared out of the woodwork. Friends and family members keep telling us how happy they are that we finally have a dog. They sound almost relieved. Most can't believe it took us so long. How could we live on a big ranch and not have a dog - and if not a dog, at least a pet of some kind? What, exactly, had been wrong with us? Unbeknownst to us (but common knowledge to everyone else, apparently) something big had been missing from our lives. Suddenly, Kel and I, by the simple virtue of having Ike, somehow became more human.