What would your dogs be reading on a Sunday morning? Waggleview with writer, editor, and teacher, Alexis Paige.
The Dog Owner: Alexis Paige is a writer, editor, and teacher, interested in themes of geography, social justice, addiction, and family. Her work appears in multiple anthologies and journals, including the New Madrid Journal, Pinch, The New Mexico Review, rawboned, Passages North, Fourth Genre, The Rumpus, Pithead Chapel, 14 Hills, and on Brevity’s blog, where she serves as assistant editor. Her essays have been featured on Freshly Pressed and Longform, nominated for Sundress Best of the Net, and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in an 1830s farmhouse on a river in central Vermont with her husband and two dogs. You can find some of her writing at alexispaigewrites.com
Dog type and Name:
George-Boxer. Jazzy-Sharp Pei/ Pitbull mix
Q: Why did you choose these dogs?
We adopted Jazzy almost 8 years ago from a Vermont shelter. On our way into the shelter, my husband said, “Now don’t go picking the first dog you see.” How could I help it that the first dog was Jazzy—a wrinkly, striped, velveteen sweetheart! We took her outside, and she was awful on the leash and had energy that alternated between manic and skittish. But she was also goofy, and in her manic bursts, showed a comical and sweet personality. She was somewhere between 1-2, had been at the shelter for months after a terrible early life, and she clearly needed some investment. I don’t know if her brokenness was a draw or not, but we just knew she was coming home with us.
Jazzy grew up with an older Boxer, Jimmy, who died in the summer of 2013 at the very-old Boxer age of 12. We spent a year mourning, but I wish we had gotten George sooner. Jazzy came alive again when this little guy showed up. We knew we wanted another Boxer, tried adopting through a rescue which was a ridiculous, byzantine process, so when a friend of my mother’s had a litter of Boxer puppies, we jumped at the chance to get one.
Q: Do you talk to your dogs? If so, what do you talk about?
I talk to both of them. Jazzy is very sweet and mellow in temperament—now at almost 10 years old—and so I sort of coo at her. She was terrified when we brought her home, her tail remained tucked almost all the time for her first six months, and she ran from safe zone to safe zone in our apartment. As someone who struggles with anxiety disorders, it broke my heart that to see her in discomfort. All these years later, I am still comforting her—telling her how much I love her, how much she means to me. I am not by nature a very demonstrative or maudlin person, but when it comes to this lady, I have no emotional defenses. She’s still a bit aloof; that’s just her, so on certain nights when I gush and coo at her, with the moonlight streaming in, I imagine her rolling her eyes and thinking, “Give it a rest, Mom.”
George, unlike Jazzy, is an overconfident busybody. My husband and I joke that he’s a “Bro,” who probably listens to old Sublime discs when we’re not home, so with him I goof off more. It’s a lot of “Hey buddy, high five”, “Get away from my pulled pork sandwich, you jerk.”
Often the talk to both of them is a stream-of-conscious recitation of their names and nicknames. Jazzy is Jazzy Lou, Lou Lou, Luly Bell, Peanut, Bean, Lady, Bun-Bun, and Baby Girl. George is Georgie Porgie, Puddin Pie, Puddin, Dumpling, Curious George, and Jorge.
Q: What would your dogs be reading on a Sunday morning?
Jazzy would read self-help books or French philosophers and Georgie would read his favorite magazine: Bones and Kibble.
Q: If they could talk to you, what would they say?
Jazzy is the strong, silent type with a silly streak. I think mostly she would be very quiet, and when she did speak up, she would say something profound. She might crack a wry joke every now and then as well.
George would probably ramble on cheerfully and incessantly about bones, toys, play time, dogs—he’s a simple guy.
Q: If your dogs had a job or career, what would thet be doing?
Jazzy would be pro-bono defense attorney for the Innocence Project. Or, maybe a cultural critic.
Georgie would be a salesman or a craft beer maker.
Q: What lesson in life have your dogs taught you?
They have both taught me about consistency, about showing up for them a little bit every day.
Q: How do your dogs inspire you?
They bring me immense joy.
Q: Where is your dog’s favorite place to go with you?
Jazzy loves rides in the car—anywhere. We bought a house with a fenced-in yard this summer, and they both love that. They love going to a local dog park.
Q: Who or what do your dogs find the most interesting?
Jazzy is very curious, sometimes mischievous, outside. She’s interested in exploring the world. She is not a very cuddly dog, but she loves my father and will curl up at his feet. He puts a spell on her.
George is interested in anyone or anything new—someone at the door, a visitor, a fresh bag of chips—he’s always looking for the next source of excitement. He also loves music and will cock his head side-to-side intently when certain songs come on. He loves people.
Q: If your dogs were writers, what would they write? poetry, nonfiction, mystery…
Georgie would write cheesy motivational posters for other dogs, and Jazzy would write dystopian fiction.
Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?
I have a high threshold for quirkiness and pet owners who are gaga, so not much. Occasionally, some ill-informed pet parents will sort of clutch their pets and behave nervously with our dogs, who are so-called “bully breeds.” That can be annoying, especially since most pit bulls, Boxers, and other “bully” dogs are truly wonderful.
Q: What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?
Providing love, food, water, routine, exercise, consistency, and making them part of the family.
Q: Do you ever dress up your dogs? If so, as what?
My husband hates this, but once I dressed up Jazzy as a Disney princess and George as a Pirate for Halloween.
Q: How have your dogs changed your life?
They’ve given my days shape and structure, and given my life joy and light.
Q: Do your dogs have a philosophy of life?
Jazzy: “Nothing human [or canine] is alien to me,” Terrence, the Roman Playwright.
George: “Cause I’ve got a hand [paw] for you, ‘Cause I wanna run with you,” Hootie and the Blowfish
Q: I love my dogs because they ask for so little and give so much, because they are so sweet and funny and pure of heart, because they teach me how to love.
WAGGLEVIEW™: These interviews are focused on leaders in business, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected people in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about pets and what these people do? This is a platform for people to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their pet!
Thank you Alexis for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview™.
I would love to know what your dog would be reading on Sunday morning! Please share your comments below and share this article with other dog lovers and readers.
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