Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cavorting With Terriers

A recurring theme for canvassers new to Akron's neighborhoods is the number of dogs, both as an aggregate as well as in each household.  My father, Virgil Johnson, took in many stray animals -- dogs, cats, the occasional squirrel -- and we grew up with at least one cat and one dog most of the time so the raucous greetings that meet me as I seek out voters to encourage to the polls does not surprise me.

Yesterday I wrote about the attempted, ridiculous, Great Dane attack.  Today it was my fault.  I had read my turf sheet wrong and gone to an even numbered instead of odd numbered address. Turf is the term of art for the division of a voting area, variously called wards, precincts and districts, into walkable bits for canvassers. I don't own a pedometer so I'm not sure how far we are walking everyday.  The canvasser (that's me)  would need to calculate a number of factors to figure it out -- there is the linear street mileage plus the additional distance due to the prohibition against stepping on lawns which then  requires walking the perimeter of the property to get to the front door.  There may be one or more (or ten) stairs to climb and then the canvasser might have to double back because of the sign on the front entrance that reads, "Please use the side door."  One of the three areas we walked today was circular in arrangement.  The main part totaled about a mile and a half.  There were six side streets.  We knocked on about 54 doors, not counting the mistake.  It seemed everyone of them had a dog, yapping, snarling, howling behind that door. 

At the house I wasn't supposed to visit I had let myself inside a fence because I saw the mailbox and figured the house had a  side entrance.  I had climbed about ten steps and it was another five to the front door.  I was tired and this one seemed to be an NH -- no one home.  

I knocked, the dogs yapped.  They sounded small.  I heard them run away from the door -- a sure sign someone is home -- then I heard the back door open.  I thought I had gone to the wrong door but the owner hadn't heard me and had let his two Scottish Terriers out. Soon I was "cavorting with terriers."  Actually I was protecting my ankles with my clipboard while the owner tried to contain his darlings.  I mostly love dogs, the bigger the better,  but I have been bitten by more terriers than I care to count.  On this trip the owners have been, for the most part quite friendly.  One elderly lady was sitting at her front storm door watching the world go by while her small white dog barked away. I was sure she was a McCain supporter. But as she picked up the little land shark and took my sample Democratic ballot she told me, "I'm with Obama.  I've voted Democratic all my life, I'm not going to stop now."  Her little terrorist barked it's complete agreement.

Coming tomorrow or the next day: Walking Meditation and Eating What's Put In Front of You or The Joys of Up South Volunteer Food.

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