It’s summer – the season when Max Maxey, my beloved yellow Lab becomes “Porch Doggie” nearly every evening. He knows the command, “Max – want to be a porch doggie?” and he gallops to the front door and out on our old fashioned front porch. I sit in the chair and read or work, but mostly I just sit and watch my porch doggie in action.
Because we live in an urban neighborhood, there are lots of people for Max to watch walking by. He has a distinct reaction to each type. Some receive passing interest: a raised eyebrow, one eye open, or a sigh. These folks just don’t stimulate a stronger emotion. Passers by with their own dogs receive a bit more attention – a raised head, erect neck and ears and eyes that follow them along – sometimes with just a little growl of distrust. Then there are the friendly acquaintances who nod or say “Hi!” but keep walking. These folks get a “thump thump” tail wag. Next are the casual friends and neighbors whom we both know better – enough for me to make light conversation and Max to walk down a few steps to sniff – cautiously looking back at me to make sure it’s OK. And last are the good friends – the neighbors we know well – like Bob, who basically gets rushed as Max bounds down the steps, runs in circles around him, and sniffs his dogs and the front parkway grass. Only fully happy when he gets a pat on the head, he comes back up to the porch, but reluctantly, and only when called. Basically, after Bob, there are no better potential passers by of interest in Max’s book.
And so the evening goes until it’s too dark to see or I get bored; Max never gets bored of watching and waiting for whoever is coming by next – canine or human. So what do I learn from my “porch doggie?” Hopefully we humans will never lose the joy of interaction with all kinds of people – from surprise visitors to favorite friends. Hopefully we will look forward to getting out on the front porch as much as Max does – whether it’s a real front porch or the elevator to an apartment or a park bench. And hopefully, we won’t ever rely on only electronic connections to greet, meet, befriend, and know our neighbors. Happy Porch Sitting from me and Max!