Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dogs and Sense of Place

Dogs are one of the best ways to create Place. Our two dogs, Jack, a tall, stately Weimaraner, and Sammy, a short, fat dachhund, make up our definition of Home and make us feel connected to our neighborhoods.

Every morning Sam erupts from under the covers to lick our faces and Jack pads up the stairs to lay his flat head on the bed, sigh deeply, and bid us feed him breakfast. Instead of arising jangle-nerved to an alarm clock, we're summoned awake with licks and laughter and gentle requests. After breakfast, no matter how raw or hot the weather we take Jack and Sam for a walk into the neighborhood. We've come to know all the streets, the lay of the land, the comings and goings and names of our neighbors, and the intricacies of weather and trees because of these walks. Our neighbors wave and smile as we parade down the street, Sammy only coming up to Jack's ankles. Then on most days we take the dogs to work with us. The clients love them, smiling unexpectedly when Jack or Sam greets them at the door. Most of our employees love them too, stopping by my office to scratch their backs or rub their stomachs, breaking up the monotony of the day. They're our ambassadors, our stress relievers and many clients have even called them our "best marketing tool."

Many people I've spoken to decide against having pets because they're "too dirty," take "too much time" or are otherwise a hassle. Some have told me that they can't bear the pain of losing another beloved pet; it just hurts too much. In my mind, the pain and inconvenience of welcoming dogs into our homes and workplaces is overshadowed by the strong sense of connection they create to the people and places around us.

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