Instead of a collar, my dog, Lucy, wears a bra when she goes out for walks. I don’t consider this piece of equipment a harness because I think of a harness as having two straps—one around the chest and another around the torso with the front legs in between.
For me, securing such a contraption to a pet’s body is as impossible as figuring out how to do that magic trick where you manage to unlink three interconnected metal rings. It’s simply beyond me.
Whereas with Lucy’s bra, on the other hand, you just put her two front limbs through a pair of orange loops and click the plastic buckle in the back and you’re ready to go.
I don’t think I’m describing this very well, but, as a gay man, I can’t be expected to give a lot of careful attention to what goes into a woman’s bra.
Lucy’s leash, which clips to her bra next to the clasp in the back, is red and, according to the pet store, made of the same type of rope that mountain climbers use when they’re dangling from Alps.
I considered that a reassuring and, ultimately, decisive selling point at the time of purchase, even though Lucy is a 13-pound ball of fur who definitely doesn’t require a tether strong enough to keep a full-grown adult with questionable taste in leisure activities from falling off an Alp. I’m pretty sure a leash about as strong as your average OfficeMax rubber band would have done the trick.
Besides, are mountain climbers’ ropes really this skinny? If some outdoor sports instructor tried to clip something as flimsy as Lucy’s leash onto my own Alp-scaling brassiere, I’d be like, “You know what, Franz? I think I’m gonna head back down to Zermatt and eat a Toblerone instead.”
Still, the red rope has proven durable at low elevations. I’ve been using it to walk Lucy for most of her 10 years on earth (she had a retractable leash at first but the cord got all knotted up), and so far the leash has not frayed, snapped, or sent us plummeting to our deaths.
During walks, Lucy’s leash manners are only so-so. She doesn’t lunge at pedestrians or anything like that, but she does tend to drag. Passionate about scraps, she always wants to nose along the pavement as if the sidewalks of New York are a salad bar at the Sizzler.
Since the garbage of strangers doesn’t strike me as a healthy dietary choice, I try to keep Lucy away from such delicacies as dropped pizza crusts, soggy french fries, and the gnawed remains of barbecue carryout. But her nose is genetically superior to my eyes, so she sometimes gets ahold of some disgusting piece of God-knows-what despite my efforts.
Then I have to wrest the slobbery morsel from her jaws while she growls at me, and I’ll think, more in sorrow than in anger, This must be how that kid feels at the end of Old Yeller when his beloved dog turns on him after getting the hydrophoby.
It’s the growling that smarts. After all, Old Yeller couldn’t help it—he was sick. What’s Lucy’s excuse?
I am confident, at nearly all times, of my dog’s devotion, owing to her cuddliness, preference for being near me, and butt-wriggling glee when I return home after an absence of any length. But there are definitely moments when I wonder whether she’d choose me, when it comes right down to it, over a three-day-old order of rib tips in the gutter.
I’d like to think she values me more than food waste, but it’s neck and neck.