Let’s talk about dogs.
In my family, the topic of dogs is rather simple. We have had two dogs. Both miniature collies, both abnormally large, and both named Django (after the Jazz musician, not the character in Star Wars). Django the First was intelligent, had ears the size of sail boats, and died at a tragically young age. Django the Second just couldn’t get a grasp on the whole common sense thing. Loyal, yes, but intelligent, perhaps not. He never mastered the art of living in harmony with our horses, repeatedly being kicked in the head, only to stagger back minutes later for a second go. Scared of storms, loud noises, cameras or any other box held to the face, and wind blown in his face, he nevertheless defended our home against every vicious deliveryman who dared come up the driveway. He would occasionally sit on command, but Django the Second couldn’t heel, shake, roll over, or do any other refined dog trick. We joked that Django was a dog very much loved, however little respected. Yet no dog could have been more missed when, after a decade with our family, he died the day after Christmas this year.
Django the Second would have been a terrible Parisian dog. I have expressed the fact that I find Parisian children to be on the whole defiant and disrespectful (though often endearing), traits which teachers and parents do little to temper. The teach them to toe the line, but not to obey because submission is a good attribute. In this respect, they teach them to be French. Yet perhaps they also instill these behaviors less in their children because they are busy drilling them into their canines.
I like to jog laps in or around the Luxembourg Gardens and as my routine is pretty set, I have gotten to know some of the dogs. There are the two golden retrievers whose owners unleash them and let them tumble in neat circles while they chat. There is the miniscule pug being walked by the tallest man I have ever seen. There is the prim Prada clad Parisian lady who has a Pomeranian who recently had something done so that he has to wear one of those cones that make dogs look so humiliated. Not so this pooch; no, he rocks it with the bold confident attitude that only Parisians (and there dogs apparently) have. Pretty soon I am sure all the dogs will start sporting them. This is how stupid things become the fashion. (For proof of this, please note that shoulder pads and stirrup pants ate making a comeback.) As they are always impeccably behaved, dogs are not restricted to the parks. I see them under tables in restaurants, tucked into Gucci handbags, and waiting obediently outside of boulangeries. On night I saw my dream dog, a cross between a golden retriever, Great Dane, horse, buffalo, and maybe a wooly mammoth. I could have easily ridden away on it while its owner selected a baguette. The point: Parisians LOVE their dogs.
They are also notorious for NOT loving to clean up after their dogs. There are signs everywhere reminding people that “I love my neighborhood, so I pick up” but I see little fruit. In fact, the little girls I babysit have a book about the adventures of “Supercrotte” (SuperCrap) who collects and identifies dog poop by night and shames owners into picking it up by day. She is portrayed as a hero. This is proof that civilizations will always create myths to escape from the harsh realities of their lives.