Stuff I’ve noticed since moving to Maine – DOGS!!

In just over a month, my family and I will be celebrating TWO WHOLE YEARS in MAINE!!  HOORAY!  To mark this momentous occasion, I’m starting a new semi-regular column here on The Daily Dish.  Dedicated to whatever seems different from where I used to live (Philly) or whatever I notice that just sticks out, STUFF I’VE NOTICED SINCE MOVING TO MAINE will be a way for all of you to visit, without me having to clean the house.  So without further ado, today let’s talk about.. DOGS!

My family & I went to my daughters school on Saturday for Winterfest!  Winterfest! is an annual celebration with games, food, raffles, contests, crafts, singing and more.  It draws a BIG crowd and when we entered the gym the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the enormous moon bounce or the line for hamburgers.  No!  It was a woman walking towards me with a dog in her arms.  It wasn’t injured.  It wasn’t a helper dog.  As far as anyone was concerned, this lap pooch was just one more merrymaker at Winterfest!  WHY?  Because Mainers are CRAZY ABOUT DOGS!!!!

They are everywhere here and I mean EVERYWHERE.  We have one laying across our floor, outside there are two barking from the back, 4 barking from the side, there’re a couple peeing at the end of the driveway, another one’s approaching looking keen, and a huge one just drove by mostly hanging out the car window.  It’s doggone NUTS!

In Philly a lot of people had cats.  I think cats are cool, but Portland is a dog town.  Maybe it’s because Maine is so white?  Not to stereotype, but white people seem to like dogs more than minorities.  Personally I like minorities more, but I also love dogs.  Dogs just seem to gibe with Maine.  They’re laid back.  Chilllll.  Portland’s baseball team is even called the Sea Dogs!  Which I think is technically a seal?  Or something?  Seriously, I don’t even know what a Sea Dog is, but here’s Slugger the Sea DOG w/ my daughters. 

The Sea DOGS even have a Bring Your Dog to the Game DAY!  WHY??  Because Mainers take their dogs EVERYWHERE.  They don’t like leaving them at home.  Every single parking lot you pull into, every other car has a dog waiting for its owner to return.  Here in Portland there are dog parks and even the regular parks all have “off leash” laws: as long as your dog is under voice command, roping them is unnecessary.  And because beaches are also open to dogs it’s common to find them year round romping in the surf, chasing balls and taking dumps right there in the sand as nature intended.

Mainers are so generous with their dogs, they not only take them everywhere, they often let them drive.  Not alone, mind you.  I mean they let their dogs sit on THEIR laps in the driver seat.  No offense, Sir or Madam, but what the hell are you gonna do when Fido smashes your face into the steering wheel and you lose control of the vehicle?  Or when Happy becomes incontinent and lets fly in your lap?  Surely your first impulse will be to SCREAM AND CAREEN OFF THE ROAD.  I know mine would be.  YAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!  I’m not saying you have to harness Hoover, or invest in one of those gated cage areas in the trunk, but for all our sakes could you at least put the dog in the back seat?  It’s illegal in the state of Maine for children under 13 to ride up front.  Maybe elderly dogs can ride in the passenger seat, but otherwise – back seat buddy.  PS: In Philly I had to worry about people driving around with infants in their laps.  Here it’s dogs.  Is that better??

This is my dog Max.

Max passed away on Halloween.  But before he died, he told me how much he loved Maine.  Not just for all of the reasons outlined above, but b/c here in Maine, Max was ACCEPTED.  Back in Philly strangers would cross the street when I walked Max.  Here, no way.  Everyone would welcome him like an old friend.  (To be strictly honest, some of the little yippy dogs would stand there and bark & bark till they looked like they were going to drop dead, but they do that everywhere.)

Dogs are SO POPULAR here in Maine, I have noticed other things.

  • The prevalence of dog-themed bumper stickers.

  • Or simply dog FRIENDLY stores.

And I’m not talking pet stores either.  I mean “normal” ones, like Marshall’s.  Just before Christmas, I was shopping with my older daughter.  We turned a corner and there’s a woman perusing housewares w/ her dog.  Again, this wasn’t a helper or seeing eye dog, he was a fluffy lap dog, riding shotgun in her cart.  I notice this all the time and I can’t help but think how tolerant people are here.  In Philly, if some woman showed up at Marshall’s totting her dog, they’d escort her out of the store faster than you could spell N-O_EFFING_W-A-Y.  Personally I think they might do this to me too, if I showed up at Marshall’s with our new puppy, Roxy the Rottweiler


versus a 5 lb. Foofie

but.. still.  Maybe I will try it and see.  After all, Mainers LOVE their dogs.

Halloween Observations

Hope you all had a great Halloween!  Me??  WELL. Saturday night I took my younger daughter Trick-or-Treating.  Being new to the neighborhood, I was on HIGH ALERT.  Paying extra special attention to everything.  Such as, Why do so many people here have curtains? And why do these be-curtained people not have their porch lights on?  Or answer their doorbells?  Even when we rang more than once.  I could see faint light through these window treatments, so they were obviously inside, watching TV or playing on the computer.  But they weren’t answering their doors.  Granted, I had to stick our candy out front in a bowl while we went trick-or-treating ourselves.  Long story short: my husband & our older daughter were out of town, so we didn’t have anyone to “tend” to the house like we usually would.  And our jack-o-lantern must have blown out (it was windy).  Our 250 yr old house doesn’t have a porch light, and we also don’t have a door bell.  And no one was home.  SO it may have LOOKED like we were not participating in Halloween, even though I spent $25 on candy that sat outside in a bowl, uneaten.  What I am saying here – is my new neighborhood is way quiet.

I have come up w/ 7 Levels of Halloween Participation.  I had lots of time between Trick-or-Treats to do this.

1) The Die-Hard.

Grown adults who retain the spirit of Halloween they had as children.  These folks go the full 9 yards.  They don costumes.  Their houses don costumes.  Put simply: Die Hards DO Halloween.  They spend months in advance preparing for the Big Night.  They assemble props.  They install theatrics.  They make constructions worthy of awards.  These are the houses all the children want to visit, though their spooky extravagance may leave little ones cringing in fear.

2) The Holiday Enthusiast.

These people like Halloween b/c they like holidays in general.  They do window displays.  They hang flags.  If they have a front yard, they own at least one large inflatable.  Often these inflatables cover multiple themes, such as Holiday + Local Sports Team (i.e., satan wearing an Eagles jersey).  The Holiday Enthusiast celebrates Halloween the same way they celebrate all holidays.  With eagerness and commercial support.

3) The Tepid Observer.

These people give out candy only b/c it’s expected.  They really do not want to, but are afraid if they don’t they will garner negative attention.  A few are secretly afraid of being egged. or T.P.’ed.  They never decorate for the holiday.  To do so would garner unwanted attention.  Mostly they just want to be left alone, but it’s hard to be left alone when people expect candy.  So on Halloween they answer the door and smile wanly as they drop a single KitKat into your bag.  Then they close the door and retreat into blessed solitude once more.

4) The Reveler.

This category covers those who like to PAR-TAY!  No need to elaborate.

5) The Non-Committal.

These Halloween participants are there in name only.  Not b.c they don’t want to celebrate Halloween, but b.c circumstance gets in the way.  These are the folks who leave a bowl of candy out on the front porch w/ the light on.  They may or may not decorate.  They may or may not have a lit jack-o-lantern.  Many parents fall into this category.  Also, older people.  Or the young.  Pretty much anyone who has a life and cannot stick around on a Saturday night to dole out candy.

6) The Hell Raiser.

This person believes October 31st belongs to the devil and trick-or-treating is akin to satan worship.  All who participate in Halloween ritual are pagans.  These people will not be home Halloween night b.c they are at church celebrating something not called Halloween but for which most of them are costumed and receiving candy.

7) The Unexcused.

This category encompasses the rest of the world.  Who say TO HELL! with Halloween – not for any religious reason, but for sheer (INSERT WHATEVER LAME-O EXCUSE YOU CAN COME UP W/ HERE).  These people cannot be bothered to buy a bag of candy.  They have more important things to do w. their time.  Like stay home on a Saturday night, watching TV or playing video games.  Behind their iron fortress of curtains. While the costumed stand outside ringing in the dark.  Treatless.