December 21, 2021

One structure, two “buildings.”


Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

-Groucho Marx


For the past three years, Waldo and I have lived in a 492-unit apartment complex on a 40-acre plot of landscaped land.  There are 22 different structures housing those units, nineteen having two separate “buildings” and three with just one each.  The structures with two “buildings” are a single edifice and the “buildings” each have their own keys for entry, with no way to get to the other “building” without going outside.  Each “building” has its own number for a total of forty-seven “buildings.”  Each “building” has 12 apartments — some are studios, some with one bedroom and some with two bedrooms.

The structures are scattered over the 40 acres on a gentle slope of manicured lawn with islands of trees, bushes and flowering plants.  There are large, old blue spruce, common sassafras, red and white oak, Norway and red maple, flowering dogwood and other trees distributed about the grounds.  There are also thickets of northern white cedar, creeping juniper, hinoki cypress, Canada yew and other bushes growing in piles of red wood chips.  The flowers include rose of sharon, Catawba rhododendron and others I haven’t yet identified.  There are also several large granite boulders of various colors strewn about, no doubt left over from the original construction.  These boulders, the trees, bushes and flowers are spread throughout the grounds in such a way that Waldo and I can enjoy their variety while we wander around the grounds on the half-mile loop we use for our poop and pee excursions.  The grounds are well-kept and a real pleasure to walk in.

The road into the complex is shaped like a lollipop, with the stem divided into an inlet and an outlet drive, separated by an island of trees, bushes and flowers.  The stem meets a circle inside of which are four of the apartment structures.  Waldo and I live on the third floor of one of those that house two “buildings” on the far side of the circle.  It is a one-bedroom apartment, which is plenty for our meager needs, and has a small balcony from which Waldo can scan his realm and watch for interesting things to pass by.

One might suppose that a third-floor apartment would not be the optimum place to have a dog, especially a border collie who requires a lot of activity.  For the first few weeks of his life here, I had to carry puppy-Waldo up and down the stairs because he was afraid of them.  I am very conscious of the limitations of living where we do and I still take him out for walks every couple of hours, so he can get outside and romp for a bit.  But in some ways, it has proven to be more ideal than if we were to have a backyard that Waldo could run around in at will.  Because Waldo needs to be taken downstairs in order to relieve himself, I have to be attuned to what he is doing, much more than I would if he could go outside any time he wants.  I can’t get absorbed in the TV, my writing, reading or anything else and ignore him.  He can’t simply ignore me and go about doing his Waldo thing without asking for my assistance.  Waldo does entertain himself quite well without my help, but he still needs me to take him downstairs every couple of hours or so.  This means we are bound to interact with one another on a regular basis throughout the day.  Our interaction is not continuous, but it is pervasive.  We may not be thinking about each other constantly, but the other is always there in the background of our attention.

I can’t think of a single time when Waldo has come up to me and asked to go out that I’ve ignored him or regretted that I have to do it.  Sometimes I’m in the middle of something and I tell him to wait, which he dutifully does by lying down on the floor and staring at me until I make a move to get up.  When he clearly has to go out, and right now! he lets me know and I drop whatever I’m doing and I oblige.  I don’t complain about it, I don’t get upset that I have to do it, I just do it – in the rain, in the snow, in the freezing cold and in the sweltering heat.  And once I’m out there with Waldo, I truly enjoy it.  Waldo and I have become good friends.  We have synchronized our lives and fallen into a symbiosis that makes us both happy.

If there is one thing that I do think is missing, it is that Waldo has no place where he can run around at will off leash.  There are no convenient, nearby dog parks.  Instead, I put him on a fifty-two-foot leash and take him to a nearby park and let him run wild on the soccer fields.  Add to this the fact that a five-and-a-half mile long paved trail is only one mile away from where we sleep, a trail that is swathed in a natural beauty of wide variety, and I know we’re doing alright.  Waldo gets his exercise, and forces me to get mine, in a garden of sorts, both manicured and wild, that bathes us in beauty.

It is a good home for us.


Where we live.

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