This week we chatted to Austin Goodman, a dancer, performer, model and part-time interior designer. We first noticed Austin as the most stylish dog/dog parent duo at the local dog park, and sat down with him one sunny late Summer day to talk about Margot, his mini Australian Shepherd with a big personality, how she helps provide a sense of organization and community, and how Margot would live in a mattress store in an alternative life.
Heed Foods: When did you get Margot?
AG: I got Margot in March, two and a half years ago.
Heed Foods: Does that feel like a long or short time?
AG: It feels like we just got her, and at the same time I can’t remember what life was like before Margot.
Heed Foods: Who are you now versus before Margot?
AG: I’m probably more responsible now. Because I’m forced to take care of something else, I take better care of myself.
I feel like I’m better with my money too. I had to save money to get her, I had to save money for the first year of having vet bills. I had to save money from food. I have to make sure she eats. There's a structure that she brings, and a routine that she brings that I didn't have once I left school. She made me feel more organized.
Heed Foods: Do you like structure and routine?
AG: I’m someone who does not like structure and routine, but needs it. I resist it, but I function better with it. My boyfriend Paul is so organized and so clean, and he has such a structure about him. I'm someone who wants to do something different every day. I want to surprise us. I’m always like, New York! Spontaneous! I’m much less anxious. I think I’d be more anxious if I didn’t have her.
My boyfriend and I have a double door closets, and my friends open up the left side, see that it’s so organized and ask where I put all my clothes…and then they open up the right side, and it’s a complete mess.
There's things hung up but then they’re also smushed in any way I can get them in. It looks awful but I can find my stuff. There is a structure to the chaos.
When I come home at night, I like to just take off my clothes and throw them on the chair and climb into bed. I just don’t like to put things away, and sometimes when I'm really into a piece of clothing, I’ll find different ways to wear it in a week.
Heed Foods: Do you find that people look at you on the street more when you're with Margot?
AG: Yeah, it’s like they look at us differently.
I feel like my sense of community has grown so much. I loved Greenpoint before and now there's a totally different world when you get a dog.
Heed Foods: In what ways has Margot opened up community for you?
AG: You just meet people. It’s not a false sense of community, but I know Snickers and all the dog names, and know what their parents look like, but the second they ask what their name is, I don’t know. I’ve gotten people tickets to shows I’ve been in and can’t remember their names, but can remember their dog’s name.
You get to a point where it is too late. You’ve known them for three years and you’ve cried in front of them one morning.
Heed Foods: That is really interesting. These relationships that are really intimate but in their own category.
AG: For sure! It's small talk, but sometimes you have an off day, and you need to talk about it and share. It’s like a haircut, I’m just going to tell you everything that's going on in my life and you don't even know me. That’s the thing – some of these people I meet at the dog park I probably would enjoy hanging out with. I guess I could like I could be like, oh we should all get drinks but we just haven't done that.
Heed Foods: What else has Margot given you outside of responsibility and organization?
AG: Just joy. I knew I would love having a dog. I knew it was going to be a lot of responsibility. I knew that it could be frustrating. I was ready for all of those things, but it really is so amazing. I run up the stairs to my apartment. I genuinely start speeding up because I know that she's going be waiting for me on the other side of the door and I know every time I see her, she’s going to be so happy.
Sometimes you have horrible days, and it's not that a partner can't give you those same joys. But Margot doesn’t even understand it, she doesn't know what's going on, she doesn't know that there's a global pandemic on. She’s just like, “Dad's home more.” She doesn’t know I’m unemployed.
Heed Foods: What has it been like to have her while you’ve been unemployed?
AG: She really is like my emotional support animal. They say you can't leave the house, nothing is open, you can only go grocery shopping. I have to walk my dog three times a day, so even on days where you don't want to get up, you have to.
She's just a beautiful little thing looking at me like, “Can we go outside?”
Heed Foods: Do you imagine what Margot would be like if she wasn’t domesticated? Where would she exist, what kind of life would she have?
AG: A mattress store or something. Somewhere super cozy. She would not survive in the woods.
Heed Foods: Has it all been frustrating to have a dog?
AG: Yeah, I know her little tics and it's just a matter of training. There's a guy on our street who she really doesn't like - he has a big dog who I think must have snapped at her when she was a puppy so when she smells either of them, she turns into a savage. She's frustrating because she's so smart and she knows how to manipulate us. Paul's the worst because he'll give her snacks at the table sometimes and I'm like, “You are creating a monster!” because she's so cute so now when we go out to eat and we bring her, she’ll sit next to him. From the outside she looks so cute but we just know that she’s working us over.
Heed Foods: What would you tell her if she could understand you for 15 seconds?
AG: I would be like you're the best thing that has ever happened to me, I love you so much. What do you want for dinner, what’s your favorite food?