I know a lot of dogs (Sofie with the broken leg, Patrick the brooding Basset Hound, Cleo the yappy Bijon who sings a chorus with Sophia and Biscuit, the twin Matlese; Toaster, the Schnauzer and Tyson the minpin; Toby, Honey, Emma, Champ and Lucy, the resident Goldens; Katie, the delicate, white-muzzled chihuahua who walks as slowly and carefully as her aged companions; the three Konas, all Black Labs; Bella the Yellow Lab and Nixon the Boxer Mastiff mix; Winston the Pekingese; Judith, the Chow and Diamond, the Dalmatian, who I have referred to here as The Hyenas because they froth and snarl whenever we walk past them; Mollie the barker who has since quieted down and Pepper the short, stumpy mutt of a work dog who loves Duncan more than she loves food; Hank the American Bulldog, Moose and Ellie the pugs who huff and puff, and Akasha, the timid German Shepherd) but I know few of their people. We talk, of course, but most of us never bother to introduce ourselves. We're content to let the dogs sniff and roll around but mostly we just smile and stand while we wait for butts to be sniffed and slobber to be exchanged. We're a happy lot, and friendly, too, but not very neighborly.
It has been a stressful year here at Raccoon Creek with the required renovations. The residents who live in unrenovated apartments have been asked to move to allow for upgrades. While some have left most have stayed, moving to the far side of the complex (or Siberia as I think of it), but nearly all have complained. I was fortunate in that my apartment was one of the first to be updated so I don't have to worry about it, but I've listened and commiserated and counseled while Duncan has sniffed their ankles for any stray crumbs which may have fallen into the folds of their socks.
The other day I noticed that the neighbor who lives across from me, a nice man in his late fifties, was beginning to move. His son had gone away to college and the man was attempting to do it all himself. We've chatted many times, mostly about the weather or his golf game, but we've never bothered to introduce ourselves until Duncan, off-leash, climbed the stairs ahead of me and ambled into his apartment. The door had been propped open while he carried boxes down the stairs to his waiting car.
I apologized profusely but Steve shrugged it off, relating a story about his son as a toddler, wandering across the hall and into someone's apartment where he helped himself to a plate of cookies. Duncan, who is curious and friendly, and a complete whore for attention, has never been so bold. Steve and I chatted and before I knew it I'd volunteered to help. So for much of last night I carried boxes down three flights of stairs and spent a good portion of tonight helping stow shelves and dressers, desks and disassembled beds into the back of a moving van. Steve is a good chap and even offered to buy me a gift card or give me cash for my assistance but I declined, telling him that it's never too late to be a good neighbor. I'm not sure if I'll ever see Steve again but thanks to Dunc someone who needed help got it and I got to make the acquaintance of someone other than a dog.