An Ode to Pets in Windows

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Ellie, a trying-her-best-to-sit-still-but-boy-is-life-exciting pandemic puppy, lives up the street. My daughter adores her. And Ellie’s person adores my daughter. The whole block does. I had no idea they’d all followed my pregnancy, watching from their dining-room-turned-home-office windows as I waddled around the neighborhood. When we landed in the hospital much earlier and longer than expected, they noticed. The entire block welcomed my parents from out of state. Ellie’s person casually mentioned this to me months later as we walked our respective charges. 

Rosie, a 12-year-old bully mix, lives a few streets over. Despite missing her right eye, she keeps good watch over the neighborhood. There are surely lessons to be learned from Rosie about overcoming challenges—she was born with both eyes but had surgery to remove one a few years ago—and celebrating differences, but my toddler is too young to appreciate them right now. What she’ll remember, what we’ll both remember, is Rosie’s human bringing her out to meet us after catching us waving through her window. We’ll remember the pair making special trips to our block for chats and pats while we sit on our stoop, and one of us meows fervently with the enduring hope that Orange Cat in the window across the street will notice (he never does). 

Rosie and her people are moving across the country in a few weeks, and we’ll miss them. We would’ve missed getting to know them altogether, were it not for a patient pup in a window and her good-natured human

It’s a funny thing. The more I’ve shared our pet-peeping stories, the more similar stories I’ve heard in return. A woman one block over moved to town with Lilly, a pup who was having a tough time adjusting to all the new sounds and smells and people. She spotted Cash, a seasoned city dog, in his window and asked his person to join them at the park. The walks helped both Lilly and her human get comfortable in their new home. So comfortable, in fact, that Lilly is now a prominent neighborhood window hound, only barking when absolutely necessary (how dare the UPS truck drive by her house?). 

An even newer couple moved next door to Lilly. The selling point for their home? The little white dog quietly wagging her tail in the neighboring window. There’s now a block book club and an upcoming chili cook-off, all because some then-strangers spotted pets in windows. 

It can be intimidating to meet new people, even when you see them every day. It’s tough to slow down and make introductions. It’s easy to feel isolated with a new baby or overwhelmed in a new city. A cat lounging in their favorite sunny spot, a pooch who gives kisses without regard to the pane of glass in the way, and even the occasional window iguana have become much more than a way to pass the minutes until bedtime. They’ve connected us at a time we needed neighbors most. 

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