She made the students look up from their phones and smile at her.
I’d be walking the South Hall Mall and hear an ear-deafening screech from a student, far off in the distance, who had spied her. “Cor-geeeeee!!!!”
Students would mob her like a celebrity. And, like the complete diva she was, she’d sit for their pets dutifully, even stoically, but be relieved when it was over and she could continue her walk.
During many long slogs up Cardiac, zooming cars, with students dangling out the windows, would go by yelling, “I love your dog!!”
She was sparkly. She trotted along briskly, looking happy. People always said it: “She looks so happy! As if happiness was something very rare to see.
Once, a student wearing pajama bottoms, flops, and a baggy hoodie crouched down and petted her for an unusually long time. When he stood up, he said, “I’ve been struggling. I needed to pet an animal today. Thank you.”
This is the power of a dog. They’re real, non-judgmental, and adoring. When we’re around them we feel more relaxed because we feel accepted unconditionally. And loved unconditionally, despite, and maybe even because of, our character flaws and neuroses.
G wants to get a rescue dog now, and I do too in a lot of ways. But I wonder if I walked a mixed breed dog around town, I’d get the kind of attention that Boomer drew just because she was that breed, with its distinctive short legs, long body and big ears.
When you have a distinctive breed of dog, people remark on it, ask you about it if they’ve never seen one before.
People come up and talk to you who ordinarily might not. They might be secret fans of the breed. They might have had one themselves at one point, and will want you to know about it, as a point of connection with you: We, the corgi lovers.
So, I don’t know what to do about the next dog. There was something really fun about having a corgi. She elevated my social status. Somehow Boomer made me special because I walked her.
Boomer made me visible.
Now when I walk on campus for exercise, nobody looks up from their phones. Nobody makes eye contact. Nobody says hello. Or just smiles.
But when I had Boomer, they’d shoot her a little smile, or ask to pet her, and I could pretend, just for a moment that I, too, was included in that exchange. That I was seen.
RIP Boomer. You were magic.