Dog Days in Topanga

Sarah IraniBy Sarah Irani      August 20, 2021

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Dog Days in Topanga
Having Missy, the Renegade Runaway, is one way to meet your neighbors.
It took a long time to get my husband Stephen to agree to getting a dog. My daughter and I had been pestering him for over a year, and finally, six months into lockdown, he said yes. He agreed because Izzy, my middle school-aged daughter, was quite isolated and feeling depressed about Zoom school and all these long months without seeing her friends. Stephen and I, on the other hand, didn’t mind being at home. We are already freelancers with flexible schedules and I took the extra time to bake and garden and go for walks. Once we adopted Missy, our energetic, three-year-old Shepherd-mix, we were going for longer walks, multiple times a day! Walking a dog in Topanga, particularly in our neighborhood around Red Rock and the Skyline Loop, makes for a fabulous social life. I met so many people in those early mornings, have chatted with most of the neighbors around Bonnell Park, and know many of the local dogs by name (even if I have forgotten the names of their humans). Missy was a street dog before she was rescued and fostered for only a month before she came to us. She wasn’t accustomed to life with humans. She escaped and ran away multiple times in the first few months! But what luck that she gets to live in Topanga, because she has a wild and independent spirit and her favorite thing is to be outside, sniffing (or chasing!) the wildlife. We are an affectionate family and had been hoping for a snuggly dog, but Missy is quite the opposite. Growing up on the streets, she had an innate caution around people and we’ve had to work our way into her good graces. Now we are delighted by every excited howl or face lick, and it’s a pleasure to see her big bushy tail wave elegantly from side to side. Stephen, Izzy, and I have found a new source of family joy in Missy. It’s so fun to watch her learn new modes of play—as a street dog, she didn’t know what a ball was for or how to play tug. She learned fetch and tug by watching other dogs at the dog park, and now she initiates play and adds her own twist. There’s always a lot of smiling and laughter when we see the agile, acrobatic way she bounces around with other doggies. She brings us joy, and we bring her affection, stability, and a great life. She’s no longer out foraging and begging for food, but enjoys her gourmet dog food and then spends the heat of these summer days cooling off in her doggy pool, watching what I like to call Squirrel TV—that exciting drama in the trees. I can’t imagine life without Missy!
Sarah Irani

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