Canine Compound

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

Every morning, someone is out in the courtyard behind my bedroom window screaming “Duke,” in inadequately-hushed tones repetitively in some kind of valiant attempt to overcome the human-dog language barrier.  Either that, or he is attempting to train a dog on the spot without supplying it with any commands.  The poor dog is probably thinking, “Yes, my name is Duke. And until you decide to ask me to do something, I’m going to run through the mud here and feel the wet earth between my toes because I’ve been slipping on your hardwood floors all night and your house smells like paint.”

For the past three years, the building next door has been undergoing various stages of conversion from rental to condo.  Dust and construction noise greeted me most mornings in a random enough pattern that I never grew to ignore it.  I could never open my windows on that side of my apartment because airborne dirt would cake my floors, dishes, windows and even the inside of my computer.  My all-white tile bathroom was a constant embarrassment whenever visitors would come by.  The best was when it would rain and my white tile kitchen floor would gain interesting tractor tire marks from my Vibram-soled shoes.  Finally, after three years, the sod was down, the dust was gone and for a few weeks I lived in harmony with my alarm clock.  Unfortunately now, a few of the units have been sold off to young urban professionals and once again, the building next door is becoming a target of my focused annoyance.  I imagine the new residents feel a stereotypical sense of loss and loneliness echoing off the framed artwork adorning their tapioca walls of their recent purchase because they all have acquired dogs.  The squishy grass, mocked by a lack of hydration, has become a field of green spots on a brown canvas.  The early morning Mexican Polka has been replaced by the music of canine/owner one-upmanship.  Now every weekend, instead of the opiate of sleeping in, I’m once again shaken awake, this time by the barks of a man yelling, “Duke.”

What do you think?