A Dog’s Life

If you happen to be in Manhattan, you may get the fine idea to take a stroll down Lexington Avenue. If so, you may happen to pass a small shop with big windows on both sides of the entrance, crowded by passer byes rubbing their noses against the glass, looking in. That will be the pet store with the puppies on display. Oblivious of the crowd, fluffy puppies toddle around in crisp paper shreds, yapping, chasing their own tail and each other, falling over or dropping asleep.

Pedestrians are sucked to the store window like it was some kind of a magnetic force field. It has been claimed that all animal babies are equipped with certain looks and traits to invoke gentleness and caretaking from adult individuals. That makes sense. However, one should think that this takes effect mainly within the same animal race. Pet shops demonstrate that this is not the case. I can pass a baby buggy without a second glance, while having an estrogen attack in front of the puppy display.

New Yorkers are said to love their dogs. The city is filled with everything from small fancy dogs to big slobbering mutts, and professional dog-walkers trailing behind a pack are a common sight in New York. Nonetheless, like anywhere else, animal rescue groups pick up neglected and homeless pets every week. That’s more than a tad hard to comprehend, watching the mutual enthusiasm on both sides of the window glass. But the scenario is old: You buy one of the little puppies, tie a ribbon around its neck and bring it home. And then, somewhere along the line, love dies. Correction. Let’s hold on to the belief that true love never dies. Enthusiasm however, does. It burns out rather quickly, and even though you huff and puff a bit on it, it will eventually start to linger with a shivering, bluish flame and go out. And if you simply were looking for a gift for the kids or something to attract girls in the park, your enthusiasm for a noisy and messy bundle of fur might wear off faster than a dog sheds.

The concept of a puppy waiting for true love can surely be a blast, both for the eager puppy and the one picking it up. However, it’s got the unmistakable outlines of Russian roulette or coin-flipping; so much is depending on pure luck, so much left to mere chance. Then again, isn’t that the way most of our choices in life are made – either you live the role of the ignorant, happy-go-lucky individual being swept off to an uncertain future, or you are the one taking the chances of what seems and feels right at the moment but might in fact be a fatal slip up waiting to happen? But staying outside the puppy window feeling the cold seep through your coat, won’t make you any wiser. Likewise, sitting on your innocent ass in clean paper shreds oblivious to the world outside, won’t bring you the future. So we make our choices and hope for the best.

Sometimes one picks golden nuggets from the oddest places. Not long ago, my boss told me that the important thing was not to make the best choice, but in fact making it at all and then act upon it. I think that holds true. There are no guaranties for a happy life. Only hunches, hopes, and good intentions.

“A dog’s life …” says the woman next to me as we look upon the puppies in the window with soft eyes and goofy smiles on our faces.

“Yeah …” I reply, and wonder what the hell that means.

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