Jaggers, my 100-lb Lab Mutt, with her fuzzy overlord, Bucket.
One thing that surprised the heck outta me when I moved to LA was to find what a dog-dense town it is. I don’t know why, but I never would have thought LA would be as dog lovin’ as it is. I *love* dogs, and they love me. When I take my beautiful Jaggers for walkies, we are greeted by the neighborhood dogs.
First, there’s the old shepherd from the green back house, ½ block down. Then crazy Maisy, a HUGE pitty that looks JUST like a cow (and I don’t mean this in a mean way!) She is tall, white and has rust-colored spots. :) She charges down the driveway like a bat outta heck. Next door to her is Persia, a beautiful golden ridgeback, who never barks until Jaggers is directly in front of her gate, then stops as soon as we walk past. Sometimes, just for fun, I’ll back up (to set her off) and forward (to make her stop) a few times.
Across the street is Piper, a standard poodle. Despite my inherent fear/loathing of standard poodles, I ADORE Piper. She’s a doll. Then there’s an older dog of indeterminate breed (he’s behind a fence), who goes crazy when we walk by, and his next door neighbor, Jay-Jay, a spunky little (is there any other kind?!) terrier, whom we can’t hear, but we can see him barking like a maniac from inside the picture window.
There’s an Aussie sheepdog across the street from Crappy Little Apartment Building, who twirls like a dervish when barking at us, then old collie mutt whom I just love. There are two dogs of varying degrees of lab that live next door to the CLABuilding. They are crazy and love having each other for company. Their family is textbook – white, middle class, husband, wife, grandmother and grandson (about middle-school aged). And within the CLA Building, there are three (one brand new) Yorkshire terriers, a mini-chow type, two Chihuahuas, a gorgeous Rottie named Tina, and of course, my Jaggers. They are all happy, healthy, friendly dogs.
Like babies, to me, all dogs are beautiful. But there is one dog of which I am constantly aware. She* is a beautiful blond lab. She looks purebred by her color, shape and bearing. She is a GORGEOUS dog. The backyard of her family’s house butts up to our next door neighbors’, so I have a perfect view from my nosey-neighbor-next-door bathroom window into her yard. I don’t know when I first became aware of her, but she’s certainly been their the whole time we’ve lived here (almost two years). I think I really took notice of her because she is such a GOOD dog. She has a thick, gorgeous coat, excellent structure and a beautifully round head. She seldom barks. Only when the neighbors’ dogs come out and run to the wall to say “HI! HOW YA DOIN’?! WANNA COME OVER AN’ PLAY?!”, she’ll respond. But neighbor doesn’t let his dogs stay out too long; I don’t think he likes the noise.
The other day, a squirrel stole an orange from the neighbors’ back yard. He sat on the crossbar of a telephone pole, nibbling at the orange, directly over the Blond Lab, teasing the heck out of her. She barked that day. On Saturdays, when the kids from the apartments directly behind us are yelling and squealing ALL DAY LONG, she’ll bark once or twice to say “HI! HOW’YA DOIN’?!”
Some mornings, when I’m getting ready, I can hear a difference in the morning sounds – more than the usual sing-song of the hydraulic brakes from the bus stopping on Fairfax, the ravens being chased by the little brown birds protecting their nests, the cars honking to pick up their rideshares. If I look out my window, I can see my Blond Lab standing up, wagging her luscious tail, as if to say, “HI. ARE YA COMING OUT TO SEE ME?! HOW ARE YOU?? I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN *SOOOOOO* LONG!!!” But she doesn’t bark. She is such a good girl.
She is cooped up in the corner. Her cage is made of chicken wire and spare 2x4s. There’s a makeshift “house”, just a roof, really, made of more 2x4s and some spare roofing material. She guards a yard overrun with rotting, rusting, festering junk. Stuff made of Grand Ideas and Good Intentions. Her nearest company is an old Pontiac on cinderblocks, covered by a worn blue tarp. That tarp has not come off the car in the two years we’ve lived here. She could knock over her coop with just one jump; one accidental sitting on a 2x4. But she doesn’t, because she is a good girl.
She was probably originally gotten for a child who has long since forgotten about her, and someone else remembers to feed and water her daily. She certainly isn’t malnourished. Or she was intended to “protect” the yard, but she doesn’t have a vicious bone in her body, so she was relegated to the furthermost corner. But the coop was made for a much smaller dog, maybe constructed when she was but a pup. She barely has enough room to turn around without knocking the fence. When she settles under the “house”, the whole structure shakes, as if it’s being held up by a few stray pieces of bubblegum and duct tape. But she is careful not to knock the structure too much, to not disturb the delicate balance of the southwest corner of the junk-strewn yard. Because she is such a good girl.
I fantasize that one day, I’m going to go over and meet her. I’m gonna pet her and play with her and give her the love and attention she deserves. But I know I won’t, because I’m just like her - each cooped in our too-small cage, pretending to be such a good girl.