Cartoons and text created for
publication in the
International Parti Poodle Gazette
January 2007 Issue

By Charlene Dunlap

Parents of teen-agers know how mortifying it can be for an adolescent to be seen in public places with their parents. "Just drop me off a block from school, Dad," or, "You’re NOT coming into the mall with me, are you, Mom!" are terms human parents often hear. Not we dog owners though; our canine companions are always proud to be seen with us – right?

Well, that’s what I always thought too.

One of the Parti-Pair’s and my favorite places to walk is at a city park . . . 160 wooded acres which includes a two-mile paved walking path that circles a lake, two quarter-mile gravel trails through the woods, three baseball fields, two soccer fields, four tennis courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a playground, and two huge picnic ramadas. At any given time, there are numerous people dressed in trendy attire involved in the various activities the park provides.

When we visit the park, my dogs are always groomed to the nines, each sporting a colorful, attractive scarf . . . while I, with slicked-back hair, am clad in a baseball cap, a rumpled tee-shirt, athletic shoes, and comfortable blue jeans adorned with a bright blue doggy-doo pickup bag peeking out of the hip pocket. Besides, dogs don’t care what their owners look like; that’s one thing we love about them – right?

I have news for you. I think they do care. And, here’s why.

Not too long ago, I began noticing that when we met fashionably dressed people on the walking trail, my Poodle companions would suddenly find subjects of compelling interest as far off the trail as their leashes allowed. At first, I attributed this to their super active canine noses detecting intriguing scents that I was incapable of enjoying. But, after awhile, I began to notice that as soon as these "fashionably dressed" people passed by, my companions would immediately come back on the trail.

Other times while walking on the pathway, either Jyah or Sydney would fall into step next to stylishly togged strangers that we were over-taking . . . as if showing other passersby that, "See, I’m really with them. Don’t we look good together?"

I also noted that when we occasionally passed someone on the trail dressed as sloppily as I, with angelic demeanors, the dogs compliantly stayed by my side; sometimes even going so far as to look up at me as if to suggest that the bum must be a friend of mine!

After many occurrences of this type, I began to wonder if my darlings actually were (like so many teen-agers) embarrassed to be seen with their "mom."

Having diligently monitored this situation, I have determined that my dear companions do take pride in their looks, and do care how I look. I am sad to say they may even be embarrassed by my disheveled appearance. Yes, probably mortified to be seen with a scruffy human when they themselves are groomed to Poodle perfection!

I then faced a dilemma. Should I don trendy attire, or should I take the Parti-Pair to the park looking shabby as usual. Alas, I knew my answer. I could not allow my darlings to be seen in such an unflattering light . . . nor did I want to tone-up my own appearance. Therefore, clever person that I am, I began using extra-long retractable leashes so that, upon seeing attractively dressed people, my dogs could further distance themselves from me whilst I whistled along pretending, just for that moment, not to be accompanying such exquisite creatures. My dear companions no doubt appreciate my thoughtfulness and probably tell each other, "Mom dresses abominably, but that’s her only fault."