Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Open Letter to the Lady on My Street With The Doberman

Hi! I’m your neighbor from a few blocks down the street, but I don’t think you know me by name. I’m the one who flees into my house whenever you and your large black Doberman Pinscher with the improbably feminine name of Clarice are trotting by on your thrice daily walk, accompanied by your Segway-riding husband. Of course, the fleeing routine is standard procedure for most of the neighborhood residents you must see, so let me be a bit more specific: I’m about 5’8”, have shoulder-length hair, and am usually pushing two children and a dog into the house ahead of me while screaming, “run, for the love of god RUN, Clarice is coming!” as you pass by.

Look, it was really noble of you to bring Clarice home when you found her roaming free on the ridge trail in the Oakland hills a few years ago, I totally get it. And I know you've worked hard to socialize her, because every time I see you in the grocery store you start a conversation with "I'm so sorry about Clarice, I've hired another trainer…" You, in fact, may be personally responsible for the buoyant employment statistics for the dog training industry in our neck of the woods. And like you, I am hopeful that one of these days, one of these trainers will know what he or she is doing.

But at some point, perhaps when Clarice tried to break the safety glass in the back of your car to pounce at my dog and I as you drove past us, or when she lunged two city blocks towards us with you dangling from the end of the leash with about as much utility as a cell phone charm, has it not occurred to you that perhaps she would be happier in another environment? Say, protecting a Russian oligarch’s property, where she could really let loose with the homicidal tendencies? Everyone deserves a chance to reach her true potential.

At any rate, I noticed that Christmas must have come early to your house this year, since Clarice has been sporting a trim new coat since November. Its black stripes match the muscular black of her haunches, and the orange complements the yellow undertones of her bared teeth.

But you know what? Like a streetwalker wearing stilettos AND a miniskirt AND a tube top on a winter's day, the tiger print on Clarice is overkill. Lose the coat. We'll still be scared of your dog.
Nancy Kho


  1. Whenever we see "Clarice" and said owner (who, let's be honest, is every bit as freaky as the dog), I always say, sotto voce, "Dog Lady! Dog Lady!" and the children crack up while they stare nervously as we drive past. When she once walked past their lemonade stand, her terse response to their sweet offer of a 50-cent cup was, "I don't think so!" They were just as glad that she and "Clarice" kept moving...

  2. ...dangling from the end of the leash with about as much utility as a cell phone charm...

    Perfect and hilarious!

  3. Brilliant! I saw the Clarice (from Silence of the Lambs?), Dr. Lechter, and the unknown female walking (riding) the other night. it was very dark. What is the story with the Segway? Yet another blog...

  4. By the way, I had to type "Prewhap" before posting this. What is the etymology of Prewhap?

  5. Very funny and I am sure so true. Now can you write about the death wishes dog walkers must have when they walk their dogs in the dark on a country road with no flashlight or reflective gear!

  6. As one of my most favorite dog trainers used to say, "I am not here to train your dog. Your dog is an expert on how to behave like a dog, and has been for a long time. I am here to train you on how to be a good dog owner, and most of you won't learn nearly as fast as your dogs. If they do something wrong, it is almost invariably because you were doing something dumb."


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