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Excerpt from GONE WALKABOUT: Confessions of a NYC Dog Walker

I’ve followed the blogs of my dogs since they were pups whizzing on Wee-Wee Pads or the nearest rug. I’ve shared proud moments as they’ve unlocked the powers asleep in their loins, learning to save their business for outdoors and using every drop wisely. A cute little guy I took on at three months, a breed becoming fashionable, a border terrier named Logan, was squatting like a girly dog when he first joined our pack. Housebroken, more or less, Logan seemed painfully aware of some higher purpose to peeing still not revealed to him. He sniffed with fascination at tree trunks and corner curbs and I smiled at his fledgling attempts. Sensing something pertinent needed saying but unsure quite what or how, he crouched near signposts and fences but not exactly on them, comical misfires that endeared him to me all the more. As time passed, Logan edged closer to his targets, still not lifting a leg but discharging in dirt with a frustrated look on his scruffy black face. Eager the next day to return to the spot for another shot, he sniffed to size up the situation, then with one hind leg trembling under his weight and the other half-cocked—just high enough to wet all over himself—he finished up and took the Walk of Shame to rejoin our pack.

This went on for months. Then came the day my terrier friend, an adolescent now, finally learned to walk with the big dogs. The very morning Logan was scheduled to lose his manhood to a local veterinarian, he looked upon a tree across the street with the stiffened resolve of a young man who at long last summons the courage to ask a young lady to dance. Chaperoned safely by me through traffic and addressing his ambition squarely, he made his final approach.

No one ever taught this lad how to make his mark in the world. This was something he’d seen the other dogs do but had to learn himself. After months of misfires and without the slightest hesitation, suddenly as though a matter of routine handled summarily a thousand times before, Logan confronted that tree trunk to take charge of his surroundings. He flung his right hind leg mechanically into a salute, the left planted firmly on the ground and bearing his weight confidently. He held it there, at a full ninety degrees, and added those two cents he’d been saving for so long.

“Good dog!” I cheered, passersby wondering why, the other dogs wagging their tails out of habit when hearing these words. My small pal had finally hit pay dirt, and he was right on the money. “Yes! Hooray for you!” I told my triumphant terrier whose own tail was wagging wildly. Mission accomplished, knowing something quite right had just been done, Logan wasted no time strutting the sidewalk in search of the next spot to mark. A new dignity to his gait, a rite of pissage behind him, he embarked upon a journey that would last a lifetime.

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