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“I care not for a man’s religion whose
dog and cat are not better for it.”
– Abraham Lincoln
February 22 is National Walking the Dog Day. I could find no particular reason why dog walking would be connected to February 22, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason why it shouldn’t fall on this day either.
So I offer you a trio of dog-walking-related items.
James Buck walking dogs on a rainy day in Manhattan.
James A. Buck (1931-2013), considered the first professional dog walker in New York City, founded Jim Buck’s School for Dogs in 1962, then trained and exercised dogs for 40 years. His business proved so successful that he had to hire and train several staff members to meet the demand for dog walkers. Buck became such a notable figure on the streets of Manhattan that articles were written about him in The New Yorker and the New York Times, and he appeared on television, including the game show To Tell the Truth.
Yes, there is a poem for this day:
Walking the Dog
by Howard Nemerov
Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight.
We stand while he’s enraptured by a bush
Till I can’t stand our standing any more
And haul him off; for our relationship
Is patience balancing to this side tug
And that side drag; a pair of symbionts
Contented not to think each other’s thoughts.
What else we have in common’s what he taught,
Our interest in shit. We know its every state
From steaming fresh through stink to nature’s way
Of sluicing it to dust that blows away.
We move along the street inspecting it.
His sense of it is keener far than mine,
And only when he finds the place precise
He signifies by sniffing urgently
And circles thrice about, and squats, and shits,
Whereon we both with dignity walk home
And just to show who’s master I write the poem.
“Walking the Dog” from Trying Conclusions: New and Selected Poems 1961-1991, © 1991 by Howard Nemerov – University of Chicago Press
Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) was an American poet. In 1978, he won the National Book Award for Poetry, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the Bollingen Prize for his collection, The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. Nemerov was a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (1963-1964), Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets beginning in 1976, and served for two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States, from 1988 to 1990. There seemed to be no subject too large or too small, too extraordinary or too everyday, for him to tackle with his pen.
And finally, George Gershwin wrote the delightful “Promenade–Walking the Dog” as part of the score for the 1937 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance.