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Apodaca: Newporters' dogged devotion

January 12, 2013|By Patrice Apodaca

It's good to be back from a holiday break filled with the usual overindulgence — too much rich food, family drama and cookie sprinkles inhabiting every nook in my kitchen.

More than anything, my life recently has been consumed by concerns over our family's ailing dog, Petey, who for the past two years has swung from near-death to recovery and back again so many times I've lost count.

This time around, we were nearly resigned that he wouldn't make it through New Year's, but as I type this, he's lying beside me, sending occasional fragrant reminders of his presence my way.

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According to the Chinese calendar, the next Year of the Dog is 2018. But in my house, it's always the year of the dog.

Like so many of our Newport Beach neighbors, we are dog people. We meticulously monitor our pooch's well-being, take him to the finest veterinarians and prioritize our schedules around his daily walks. Since he's taken sick, I've even adopted the habit of whipping up vet-approved home-cooked meals for him in hopes that the wholesome food will help settle his delicate system.

Yes, we Newporters love our dogs, and I'd challenge any other community in the world to top our devotion.

I recently bought a collection of essays, "The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs"; the forward is by the brilliant Malcolm Gladwell ("Blink," "Outliers"). But despite the wonderful compositions, the book often displays an overtly New York perspective on dog-rearing — pithy, cynical, dripping with satiric wit, yet also somewhat guilty. In Gladwell's introduction, he writes that in buying the book, readers have revealed that they are "as unhealthily involved in the emotional life of dogs as the rest of us are."

I'd like to posit that in Newport Beach, we harbor no such inner conflict about our canine companions. We are sincere, unapologetic dog-lovers who buy doggie strollers, car seats and designer shoulder bags without a shred of irony and absent any soul-searching regarding how we humans selfishly bred dogs to be our trusty sidekicks.

I have no data to back this up, but I'd be willing to bet that Newport Beach also has more gourmet dog-food joints per capita than anywhere else in the world. Our dogs get to live in homes with ocean views, not some dark, shoebox-sized apartment with a potted plant the only sign of greenery. What do we have to feel guilty about?

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