Washington, D.C., Where a Mutt Can Be Anything He Aspires to Be

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By Scene And Heard
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A 60-pound Chihuahua and a cat named "Bastard": What more could you want to read about over this morning's coffee?

When I lived in Baltimore, I was forcibly given a stray puppy by my friends. This sort of thing might happen in Baltimore ,but it would never happen in D.C.

Baltimore still has that small-town feel to it. Small enough that people are frequently deciding what's best for you. People in D.C., on the other hand, may be irritatingly swollen with self-importance, but at least they don't tell you how to live your life.

My Baltimore friends didn't ask me as much as tell me.

"Debbie found a dog and we're bringing him over."

And when I tried to put my foot down . . .

"It's only temporary, until we find him a better home."

After anchoring me to a five-pound animal, my friends stopped taking my phone calls.

After a few friendless weeks, I gave up and took the puppy to the vet, where I was surprised to learn that the mangy, worm-filled animal was a Chihuahua mix. I might not have wanted a dog, but at least this one would fit in my efficiency apartment.

A year later, I moved to D.C. with my alarming 60-pound Chihuahua. I thought my father was overprotective, but he was nothing compared with Howie, who strutted beside me like a gangster.

In Baltimore, people had been quick to label Howie a vicious pit bull and clear the sidewalk.

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© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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