• Carmen Marie Fabio

In living colour


Besides the benefits of love and companionship, having dogs that need to go out at least twice a day means I have no excuse not to exercise. My Doberman/Shepherd mix is a bundle of energy whose whine is in direct proportion to any inactivity. My Jack Russell/Beagle mix, a rescue who spent years as a breeder at some puppy mill, has decided to spend her retirement on the couch, often needing to be carried on parts of her walk because she just doesn't feel like moving any further.

The added bonus of heading out with the critters is getting to know all the other interesting characters in my neighbourhood and, like every other place I've lived in, there's always more than one.

Myriad little apartments in Montreal that followed school, jobs, back to school, and new jobs, meant getting to know each neighbourhood colourful fixture, if not by name, at least by sighting.

I would commute by bus from my apartment in NDG where we would regularly see the Rooster Lady, a woman in her 30s who had multicoloured hair piled high on her head as she regularly walked, arms folded and staring straight ahead, along the streets. At my job downtown, almost every lunchtime I would bump into Superman, walking through the Place Ville Marie shopping plaza. While he was a little on the thin side, I gotta say, he had the hair down pat.

My next apartment had one of those famous Montreal wrought-iron fire escapes shared with all the other tenants and the woman on the second floor would wander out every evening, calling for her cat who, unfortunately, was named Marbles leading to the inevitable crack about the woman in 202 who'd lost her marbles.

When life's journey brought me off-island over two decades ago, I was flabbergasted to bump into Colonel Sanders in the local shopping mall. Replete with white hair and goatee, and horn-rimmed glasses, the gentleman sported the requisite all-white suit and black Western string bow tie and walking stick. While I thought he was doing promo for the fried chicken franchise, I was told that no, he just realized he looked the part so assumed the role.

We regularly spot the Can Man doing his part to clean up the environment by logging countless kilometres on his bike collecting and redeeming cans into the dozens of plastic bags he carries with him.

On a good day, we'll also spot Santa Claus who, again, while on the thin side, has the hair absolutely nailed.

There’s the lady who rides her bike with her little dog in the front basket and another cyclist in Ste. Anne’s whose parrot sits perched on the handlebars. We never get to know their names but spotting them on a semi-regular basis is interwoven into our day-to-day lives.

One day recently, my son came home with one of his friends, commenting about the woman they'd seen pushing her small dog in a baby carriage. While I was about to reason how maybe the dog was elderly and the owner just wanted it to still get out for some air, my son's friend said, “That's nothing. My mom told me there's a crazy woman who takes her little dog out for a walk and carries it more than halfway.”

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