WOMAN, HOUSE, DOG

It is a common assumption that people come to resemble their dogs. I have not necessarily followed this line of reasoning, but then again, it might hold some truth. I am a firm believer, however, in the idea that one chooses one’s home for deep psychological reasons. Taking this just a bit further, if women are one with their homes, and resemble their dogs, somebody should write about it. I feel uniquely qualified, and I have categorized some “common” archetypes of female homeowners and their dogs.

HERMIONE. She lives in an upscale neighborhood in a large American city. Her flat, in an old brownstone, has wide planked hardwood floors and a non working fireplace. An Anglophile, Hermione drinks tea in the afternoons and has antique chintz draperies. Her overweight Pug, Dashiell, has access to the back garden, and prefers coddled eggs to processed dog food. Hermione has noticed a tendency to gain weight as she ages, and her facial wrinkles cause much worry. Hermione spends too much money on facial creams and exfoliators. Dashiell watches it all with amusement, and takes frequent naps.

MADELINE. A graduate of a prestigious Ivy League College, Maddie, as she is known to her friends, is an attorney. Recently married to a dermatologist, Maddie and her husband own a lovely Tudor cottage in an old suburb of Chicago. Maddie is allergic to cats, and her husband likes big dogs. Fred is a Borzoi, whose grace and charm have won Maddie’s heart. Fred and Maddie spend inordinate amounts of time in the garden outside the cottage, where Maddie is growing climbing roses and lavender, and where Fred’s flowing white tresses contrast nicely with the herbaceous borders and Maddie’s black braids.

SMUT. Of dubious parentage, Smut spent the formative weeks of his life in a cage at a kill shelter. Black and white, and slightly bowlegged, Smut was often passed over for more attractive pups. The day Sheila walked in, it seemed like Kismet. Sheila, who had angry chicken pox at age six, has always felt inferior to her coworkers at the fashion magazine where she is a copywriter. With coarse hair and uneven facial terrain, Sheila is single and lonely. Sheila and Smut live in a small loft in Soho, where they often gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows and dream. Their loft is sparsely furnished, and what is there is primarily from the thrift store. Their prized possession is a roomy, overstuffed plaid sofa, where they spend Sunday mornings dozing and reading The New York Times. Smut often persuades Sheila to buy croissants, which they share.

BETHANY. She’s busy. She has four children under the age of ten. Her husband is a successful corporate type, and they live in a gated community in a house with all master bedrooms, an unused back yard, and a media room. Bethany is WAY too busy for a pet, and so she rarely pays much attention to their two ill mannered Labrador Retrievers, Chloe and Pepper. As a result, the new suede sectional has major tears. The children complain that the dogs knock them down. Somebody peed in the mud room yesterday. The electric collars are somewhere in the back of the junk drawer, and Chloe was last seen running down the street after the mail carrier. Bethany was unavailable at the time, as it was her day for her golf lesson and Bikram yoga class.

CARLETON. He is a very distinguished eight year old Dachshund, of the smooth coat variety. He has impeccable manners and a very soft spot in his heart for his mistress, Mrs. Duncan, who returns his adoration. They live in an old, Victorian house, full of antiques and Persian rugs. Mr. Duncan, who was a lovely man, died soon after Carleton was adopted. So Carleton and Mrs. Duncan rattle around together in the old house, sharing memories and tidbits while sitting by the fire. Carleton loves his walks, and he and his mistress can be seen strolling through the leafy streets in all weathers. When it is cold, Carleton wears a plaid jacket. When it rains, Mrs. Duncan carries an old Burberry umbrella. Mrs. Duncan is very soft spoken, and Carleton rarely barks.

There are, of course, as many types of dogs out there as there are women and their houses. But I would venture to say that our choice of canine is reflective of our true selves. Take me, for example: I am bossy. I live in an old house with lots of breakables. I have a dog who knows her place, has impeccable manners around my good china, and who knows that I am the pack leader. I love cats, and she pretends to. It’s a match made in heaven. But wait. Our dog doesn’t resemble me at all! Oh my gosh.

She’s the spitting image of my husband…

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