Monday, July 23, 2012


So, as you may have gathered, I'm across the Atlantic once again. Readers expecting vicarious 'I summer abroad' may be disappointed, because the condition of my abroad-ness is that I spend my every waking (and non-waking) moment with a poodle nearby. We brought Bisou to what is ostensibly a dog-friendly apartment, but the catch is that the dog cannot bark. Ever. Nor are the windows allowed to be closed (something to do with potential mold), so the slightest woof will get projected to the entire courtyard. 

Bisou learning the rules of German society.

Bisou isn't exactly a problem dog - not aggressive; no shedding; housebroken; no barking-for-its-own-sake; no trying to destroy the furniture; barks a bit when we leave (despite training) but, according to our neighbors at home and one account from here, stops soon after; is quiet at night and in the morning - but is not in fact a stuffed animal. And noise is noise, or noise is subjective, or who knows. What I do know is that the rule is, if I'm home, she's home. If I'm out, she's out. My husband's working the usual hours at an office. Everything's closed on Sundays, and early on weekdays. (The butcher closes at six.) Oh, and this isn't my "vacation," but time during which I have a great deal of work to complete before I start teaching in the fall. This set-up is a hassle, but doable for a month. Luckily, I like to wander for hours around cities, and luckily, napping poodles aren't big dissertation-interrupters. 

My sense of where a dog can and cannot go on this purportedly dog-friendly continent - well, in this town specifically - is limited, limited further still by my limited comprehension of the language in which I anticipate being yelled at. Anything errand-ish - places that sell shampoo, supermarkets, bakeries, other small food shops - is a no-dog zone. I'm not even thinking about libraries. The market encourages the presence of dogs, and is a free-sausage-treat bonanza. Cafés... allow the kind of dogs that arrive and promptly fall asleep under a table, and we're not quite there yet. I mean, they allow any dogs, and yesterday we didn't sit with her outside at a café because there was an aggressive-seeming one already parked, one that did not think the café was big enough for the two of them. So Bisou can totally sit outside at cafés, although it means watching her constantly to make sure she doesn't happen upon the dark chocolate that pretty much coats Europe's cobbled streets. Can she sit inside if it rains, which it does almost every day? We shall see.

A friend of mine in high school used to claim that you could leave the building even if it wasn't your free period, as long as you showed your schedule thingy to the security guard with confidence. Even if you could only leave at sixth period, if you flashed your "6" card at third period as if you meant it, out you'd go. I don't believe I ever tested this, but it rang true. And I think that's the kind of confidence necessary if I'm going to go around, poodle in tow. Because as small as "miniature poodle" might suggest, and as small as she looks in the photo above, Bisou is about five times the size of a handbag dog. (It's "toy" or "teacup" you're imagining.) Shall I play this as the entitled American? The aging eccentric? The possibilities are endless, or would be for someone fluent in German and with no fear of confrontation whatsoever.

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