Hang

Doggy chat

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on May 15, 2020 Published on May 15, 2020

MANJULA PADMANABHAN

My friend Muriel brings over a little friend. “Meet Peanut!” she says, holding up a tiny creature with wiry gray-brown fur. “My niece’s Yorkshire Terrier. She doesn’t like being left alone in the house! May I leave her with you while we run errands?”

I say, “Of course.” The building I live in forbids tenants from owning pets, but no one can possibly object if the tiny Yorkie spends an hour or two with me. We sit outside in the patch of grass at the back of the property. She’s full of beans but when I ask her if she wants to go for a walk she flops down and says, “NO way! I’ve already been out six times today — and it’s only 10 o’clock!”

I compliment her on her ability to tell the time. She turns her bright brown eyes towards me with a pitying expression. “Huh!” she says. “We animals can all tell the time without needing machines — unlike humans!” Then she gives a great yawn. “I don’t know what’s come over all of you, of late,” she says. “My mum isn’t the only one going out for walkies ‘way more than usual’.”

I express surprise. “What do you mean?” I ask. “Well,” says Peanut, “for the past six weeks, all my friends report that they’re being taken out for ‘a run’ at least 10 times every day!” She tells me that her home is in a big town, where she lives in a tall apartment building. “All of us are used to be taken out twice a day, max. That’s not nearly enough for most of us. Sometimes we’re standing right by the door just WAITING for our mums and dads to get home from work so that we can go out for a wee!”

But now? “They’re the ones wanting to go out all the time! Even though they have toilets in their own homes! It’s bizarre,” says the little dog, giving her ear a thoughtful scratch. “It makes all of us pets wonder what’s going on.” She cocks her head to the side in that endearing way that’s so typical of her breed. “D’you have any idea?” She hasn’t managed to teach her mum how to understand doggy-talk, so she’s not been able to get that information for herself.

“It’s because of this virus,” I say, “it’s called Covid-19 —” She interrupts me, “Oh we know about the virus! What we dogs don’t understand is why we must be taken out for a run 20 times a day! Our paw-pads are wearing out. Our necks are sore from wearing collars for too long. Our noses are numb from sniffing the same boring fire hydrants all day long!”

I explain that dog-walking is amongst the few reasons that humans can legitimately walk outside these days. “Oh woof!” she says, using a canine curse-word. “That means it’ll go on for some time?!” “Unfortunately, yes,” I say, tickling her under her silky little chin until she falls asleep.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

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Published on May 15, 2020
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