by Marc Krautwedel
The dogs meet every day at the same time, for conversation, in the English Garden in Munich. In any weather. Not far from the beer garden and the brass band music at the Chinese Tower, on the meadow. They are very different, not only in their appearance and behavior. Everything is discussed and commented. Vacation, job, politics, dog keeping, beer, bicycles, weather and cats. No topic is left out.
I live at the Isar river. It’s nice there. The house is small, but has a very small garden. My family inherited the house and didn’t know how to pay the inheritance tax. Yes, everything has become more expensive here.
They found me on their family vacation in Spain. I was lying in the ditch, hit by something I hadn’t seen coming. They took me to the vet, who saved me. Some things still hurt. But what hurts the most is that my previous “owners” had kicked me out of the car when they no longer wanted to own me. I lived on the street for a year and was scared. I never really talk about that. Not even with my new friends on the dog run. You never know when something nice is over again. Anyway, my new, real family nursed me up in the rented vacation home for three weeks, so that I could walk again and had even gained weight. They had rented the vacation home, the finca, with two families who were friends. Six adults, five children. I lay with my bandage on the veranda and was always somehow cared for and present.
I had never experienced so much love and knew that it had to end one day.
But only the place changed. We then drove once more in Spain to the vet and then the long distance to Munich. We drove through tunnels and over mountains. I sat in the back seat with their daughter and had my nose to the window opened just a crack. Every place smelled different and I couldn’t believe my luck. I am very often in the English Garden or we go to the mountains or go to another park or just a little walk. I especially like it at the Isar. The main thing is to be with my family, preferably all together – then it doesn’t matter where we are. I am Carlos. Now my name is Paulchen or Pauly. I am happy and love to love.
We are late again. My master really wanted to hiss the giant beer before we even got to the park. Hissing is such a thing. A liter does not drink itself. Especially not when an unknown female is sitting at the table and my master unpacks his entire mating package. No, he had not exposed himself. He is not a dog. He was courting, as one usually only knows from the peacocks in the English Garden.
The English Garden, my home. I live at home, but here I am at home. Fortunately, almost every day. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. My biggest stress with my master is when he wants to go again. He counts my toilet trips. Indeed. Sometimes stopping is the only solution, even if my eye twitches and my scalp flutters.
One could think that I would prefer to be in the meadow with the dogs. That is not true. I prefer to be among people. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the beer garden. Too loud from the thousands of voices, the brass music and it’s a shock every time someone slams a tray on the table or the “dishwasher man”, even if it should be a woman, pours the cutlery in the cutlery tray. I have gotten used to the smells of fried chicken, curry wurst, cheese and beer. So used to that, I could live in the Babylonian haze.
Now he’s up there snipping apart the sausage, sucking down the hot sauce that’s not supposed to get me because I’m not a Chihuahua, according to misinterpretations fed everywhere by chortling laughter.
The voice sounded like a soft, self-affirmed promise of something that was already cold.
Ready? Woof. This is what it was yesterday”. Once barking softly, wagging the tail, stretching and playing a relieving yawn, too often mistaken for tiredness. He still hasn’t realized that at least my food intake is like an innate trigger mechanism, and watching his level in the beer glass with estimating when I’m finally allowed into the bushes is completely suspended.
In a moment, I’ll meet the others. Maybe my master will make it this time and the female will come along. I would be happy for him. A nice guy, a bit simple-minded and a bachelor for too long. He brought me into the marriage and left the marriage with me. The dog was more important to him than her, she railed at the time, almost two years ago. That was not all she found fault with him. What kind of manners? “The dog.” My name is George, and I’m not telling you where I’m from, so as not to make you tremble in awe.
Business, business, business. My mistress never gets a moment’s peace. Not even when she’s with me in the English Garden. Either she’s on the phone, but mostly she’s writing short messages. If the smartphone, she always has at hand doesn’t display a message and isn’t buzzing, she checks it, takes a look and checks the battery charge level. She doesn’t need a wristwatch for that, because the smartphone shows the time and she looks at it all the time.
My mistress tries to balance everything. Career, health and appearance, and her private life. A tough woman. So tough that she has no relationships. Not even short ones. She talks quickly and precisely. Unfortunately, she also asks very precise questions. Many men were scared off by this and left immediately after eating at one of the fast, hip food temples downtown.
Maybe she should stop pretending to go there for lunch all the time anyway and instead go out for dinner, somewhere cozy, or drive out or do anything that signals to the men, who are also too linguistically and multi-lingually inferior for the most part, “Hey, let’s spend a few hours together because we want to.” Unfortunately, Jennifer – we both call each other by our full, unabbreviated first names – doesn’t understand that. She doesn’t want to destroy the position she thinks she has to represent with anything like tenderness. After all, she has built up something with her office in Theatinerstrasse, in Munich’s best location, even if most of the few windows face the inner courtyard.
We live in Lehel. We either take the streetcar to the English Garden, or I sit in a basket on her sports bike. Since my legs are too short, I can’t run alongside. Even when she jogs, I only manage to keep up for three hundred meters.
Now we have a stroller that I sit in and push her while she runs. Beer gardens are out of the question with Jennifer: she goes to the Oktoberfest to maintain business contacts. Dog run, social contacts, walk on. I am Binchen. The name is real and not belittled afterwards. I come with Jennifer from Amsterdam and live in Munich for two years now.
I am a Schwabing veteran. As is generally known, one does not talk about age, but I have experienced a lot. I can’t say anything about the wild times when my master had one of the hottest Italian trattorias on Leopoldstrasse. I was not yet born when the Munich society met in our restaurant.
I am still there and have my basket just to the left of the entrance. Many pet me before reaching for the door. Some don’t seem to have realized that the noisy times are over. That’s life as a restaurateur with little space and good cooking. First you are an adventurer, then an insider tip, then the haut society comes, you raise the prices and designate certain tables for certain guests, then the press comes to photograph the few, it gets into the newspaper and then it is actually already over again, because then everyone, including many from the country, wants to be there once.
The caravan of the fashionable society is then already moved on and the Gaffer gape at each other and grumbles about the too high prices and criticize the food and the ambience. How you do it, you do it wrong. It’s quieter now and mostly people from the past or from the neighborhood come. Many newcomers also come to acclimate to the neighborhood and belong, no matter what. I go to the English Garden every day, in all weathers. I get along well with the other dogs. I am used to the intrusiveness of people, but everyone should know the limits that you do not cross. It is not far and if my mistress can not, because she is still in the kitchen or master buys goods, then either the son, his wife or the daughter goes with me. I am Alberto and for eight generations in Schwabing.
In a healthy dog, a healthy dog. This does not need dog therapy. My mistress is a singer and travels a lot with the band. Actually, we’re from Seattle. Mistress’s dad was in a pretty well-known band. Grunge–those were still times I didn’t live through. But people in the family talk about it a lot. Every style of music has its time–or the other way around. And also its place. Seattle, Nashville, Liverpool, “Motown.”
Munich? She came here because of love. I went with her. We are a team. He’s not a saxophonist or guitarist, not even a drummer, but a psychologist and coach. Sounds strange, but maybe that’s why it works so well with the two of them. He’s also a bit older than her and he trains daily on the Isar river. Three times a week I run with him down to the English Garden. He drinks his apple spritzer there and I get a knockwurst. Afterwards, we go to the dog run so I can communicate. Typical psychologist. No idea about everyday life. I’m a musician and I express myself with music. Sometimes it annoys people, but singing is my profession. When my mistress is on tour and I’m also there, I’m on the tour bus and backstage. That is absolute madness. The light, the stage, the audience–and my mistress makes them all cheer. The band members and the roadies are my friends. When they are setting up or taking down, I have to stay in the bus since I once wanted to help with the cables.
The dog run in English Garden? There are worse. It’s not the big, wide world, but an excerpt from it, though few free spirits and other artists.
My name is Johnny. I am a musician, irondog and entertainer. I live in the Glockenbachviertel. (Bells brook quarter)