On a leash: My growing appreciation of owning a dog in the city.

Owning a dog in the city is quite a new experience for me but I’m getting used to it. Although leash laws still feel new, I admit that I feel quite boujee walking my golden retriever as she prances in her harnessed leash around our Atlanta neighborhood. And I have been encouraged to select the “premium” dog food. And so I pay the extra five bucks for the “Smoked Trout and Whole Grain Recipe.” When we first got our pup, I put her in the backyard because she wouldn’t quit barking inside. The next day in our mailbox was an anonymous photocopy of a city document with the reminders of the barking ordinance. It was a bit of an injury to my pride, but I got over it. I even started taking her to the local “Dog Village” where she gets to socialize and they send us pictures throughout the day of her and her new friends.

Again, the leash laws still feel new. And I’m sure they were in place growing up in my hometown of Jackson, but we always had a big yard and the neighbors were fine with our dogs moving about. Or if they did mind, they never said anything. There were times we wouldn’t see our dogs for a week but we knew they would show back up in the garage. My dad bought Old Roy dry food from the 70 pound red bag at Wal-Mart. Our dogs would jump in the lake and roll in the dirt. When we’d go on vacation, we’d set out two pots of dry food that we left in my dad’s shop. They would drink from the lake.

Today, we have a golden retriever named Zoe. My two elementary aged girls gave her the name. For a split second I thought they had chosen the name for the Greek word Zoe which means life and is found throughout the New Testament. They named her for their favorite teen zombie. We have to be careful about saying the word “walk” too loudly. Her ears perk up and she turns into an NFL linebacker.

It’s funny how accustomed Zoe has become to the leash. I’m up in the North Carolina mountains for the weekend. Zoe is with me. I put her on the leash as we walked around Lake Junaluska. As we finished our walk, we headed up to our home. Without her knowing it, I unhooked her leash but pretended like I was still holding it. For the next quarter mile, she stayed the length of the leash next to me. She could have sprinted for the lake or chased the neighbor’s cat. She walked by my side the whole time. As we approached the driveway, I stopped. She kept going. Confused, she looked back at me. Then she looked ahead. I said, “Go. Run. Be a dog.”

She slashed across the paved road and into the yard chasing a squirrel. She wouldn’t stop running. I opened the door to our home and left her outside in the free open range of our half-acre yard with no fence and no leash. Within minutes, she was at the door. I let her in and she climbed onto the couch. I poured some sparkling water and sat next to her. We both fell asleep.

Leashed: My growing acculturating to owning a dog in the city.

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