Captain Janeway’s Debut

I’ve always been a cat person. To me a cat is a far more civilized and independent creature, and one more suited to living in an urban environment, than a dog. However, the introduction of a canine, if ever so small one, into my home gave me a first-hand look at the widespread dog culture that exists in our cities.

I wasn’t wild about having a dog in the house. It’s not the dog itself I don ‘t like, it’s the preponderance such creatures have for seeing the morsels in the cat litter box as tasty sausages, as well as it’s constant standing at my feet and wanting to be scratched. But if there was going to be a dog around, I figured it should know how to go for a walk.

Now I have a feeling the dog knows when someone isn’t so warm to it. At first we kept our distance. When it came time for the first walk, it was clearly suspicious of the collar and leash. Nevertheless, Captain Janeway, my friend, and I set out for a short stroll.

Now, the name Captain Janeway was attached to this creature for a reason. If you’ve ever heard the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue,” you’ll get the idea. A creature this small–and she’s small even for a Chihuahua–needs a big sounding name to get some degree of respect. Plus, Captain Janeway arrived around the time of the last episode of Star Trek Voyager, so the name served as an appropriate tribute–a way for the series to live on through the life and times of a little dog.

Armed with her commanding name, she set off on her first walk, and if Captain Janeway didn’t get the respect she deserved right away, she did get attention. It was hard to get very far, not only because the Captain struggled to figure out the guiding system, or the efficient use of her legs for that matter, but because every few feet someone came up to meet the “mouse on a leash,” commenting on her size or asking what kind of dog she could possibly be.

Captain Janeway & San FranciscoWhile Captain Janeway impressed all San Francisco with her size and cuteness, she impressed me most with her ability to break every social and cultural barrier, with her ability to meet just about anybody and warm the hearts of even those with the most glum and pre-occupied faces.

People from divergent cultures, people with limited English skills, homeless people, business people, all loved her–Captain Janeway’s charm crossed many cultural, age, racial, and socio-economic barriers on that first walk. She allowed whoever held her leash to meet just about anyone and everyone.

My friend, who had warmed to Captain Janeway instantly, instantly noticed her ability to attract attention and so began offering to hold the leash. Soon he was the target of questions from “what kind of a dog is that” to comments like “that is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” We all wish to some degree that our fellows noticed us. With age often comes the lessened likelihood of that happening, so it became obvious to me why some people keep these smelly, slobbering creatures around.

I work at home a lot, and so there are times when I feel I need company; then I shut the computer off and head to the corner coffee shop. While going there allows me to be around people, only once and a while do I actually meet and converse with someone. Captain Janeway is able to help with that as well.

Now when I go to the coffee shop, I know almost everyone instantly. Not only do I know the customers and the people who work there, I get to meet people walking by or doing laundry across the street.

I’m not here to brag about this dog, but I have to tell you, Captain Janeway has even stopped traffic. On her first walk, one car pulled over to ask a question about her breed. Another took a picture. On a later walk, two women stopped their car, got out, and asked if they could please pet the dog.

As we passed a barbershop, one of the customers came out to ask if I could please bring the dog inside. Once inside, Captain Janeway became overwhelmed with attention. One of the customers commented that she was obviously afraid of black men.

On the RocksOf course with each ounce she gains, fewer people are interested enough to stop and meet Captain Janeway. But being small, even for a Chihuahua, she’s sure always to attract some attention. Sometimes she attracts so much that she has to be hidden in a backpack until we get to an area that doesn’t have so much street traffic. And where she has much less chance of being stepped on! And true to to the way of the Chihuahua, she enjoys the quiet, cozy, warm, and dark place much more than the busy sidewalk.

Today Captain Janeway and I have a better understanding. I put up with some of those annoying habits, and she turns on her charm when we go for a walk. Yes, I still far prefer the cats, but I have to admit that the cutest cat won’t stop traffic.

About Eric Miller

Rick and I started this web magazine as The New Colonist back in 1999. I was in San Francisco, and he was in Los Angeles. We had a common interest in sustainability and city life. We're still at it. Today I am happy to have lived in both New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh and to now reside in Dallas. Find more at ericmiller.me