There was a dramatic change to my routine today. I got out of bed, did some stretching & push-ups, squeezed into my compression gear, and started to let the dog outside. All of this right on time, as it is every day of the week. We live in an apartment building, so I have to take our schnauzer Tally down three flights of stairs to get to the exit doors. From there, it’s a one-block sleep-walk to the park and business as usual. The only problem is that the door is not glass, so I can’t see what’s on the other side, as Tally bolts anxiously ahead every morning. She is on a leash to protect her from what was once a busy street. Lately, with everyone shuttered inside, it’s eerily quiet. 

I never know what’s on the other side of that one-way locked door. There could be a homeless person sleeping just outside, but this is rarely the case since I’m not the first out that steel door every morning. There’s also an airlock between the stairway door and the exit, leaving about a six-foot long carpeted hallway. Sometimes a smoker will huddle on the cement pad in front of the covered doorway and the odor of pot or tobacco will linger. It’s also a dry spot to duck out of the rain plus a depository for cigarette butts and food wrappers. One one occasion, Tally’s doggy buddy, Falco, couldn’t wait to get out and relieved herself in that contained space. I immediately cleaned the carpeting with Spot Shot, but could smell the trapped fumes of cleaning fluid for weeks afterwards. Needless to say, there are many distracting smells that Tally looks forward to sniffing every morning. 

Other neighborhood dogs lurk outside on the sidewalk if my timing is bad. The barking and growls echo throughout the hallways and disturb an otherwise quiet setting. These encounters are always eye-opening and ear shattering, especially after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I learned after moving in that this back-exit was the best option, after encountering other dogs in the elevators and common stairwells that lead to the lobby. The dogs in our building are predictably enthusiastic once they leave the cramped confines of their respective apartments. They’re either very glad to see each other or mad about sharing their newfound freedom. In particular, there’s a Saint Bernard upstairs, Moose, that would like to eat Tally for breakfast. Needless to say, we stay out of each other’s way  whenever possible. 

Moose’s owner must have been slightly off-schedule this morning, since normally they are on the other side of the park as I exit the building. They always spot each other with doggy-radar but they’re too far apart for anything but dagger-like stares. Maybe it’s a love-hate relationship? This morning as Tally wanted to go out, Moose was chompin’ to get in; they were quickly nose-to-nose and ready to tear into each other. I ended up shutting the door and changed my normal route to the park in favor of the other direction. Nothing gets the blood flowing faster than seeing the furry, giant jowls of Moose and his hungry eyes looking back at your helpless dog through the crack in the door – at least it’s steel. After narrowly avoiding confrontation, we wisely took a “Fur Detour!”