The much-needed affection of Neji the record store dog | Best of Chicago 2020

The much-needed affection of Neji the record store dog 

click to enlarge neji_at_wild_prairie.jpg

Wild Prairie's Facebook Page

The excellent record/vintage clothes shop Wild Prairie is one block from my pad and has been a godsend during quarantine. The small, very-easy-to-distance-within store has always felt safe, often with just one shopworker present (usually of the wonderful owner couple of Alex Gonzales and Natasha Rac) and there's usually a shopper or two perusing the bins. They have a great selection of vinyl including house, jazz, soul, and loads of 60s psychedelia (making this guy VERY happy). Despite this plethora of ideal factors, there's a running joke over at WP that people come into their establishment just to see their awesome pooch, and it's hard to deny.

The pup in question is a sweet, gentle Shiba Inu (one of my favorite breeds) named Neji. Neji used to sleepily hang in the back when I'd enter the shop, so I'd come to him for some petting-time, but these days he will run up and greet me as I enter the door (aww). Love is indeed hard to find in these distanced, messed-up times, but the affection I am missing most is that from dogs, and Neji has it in spades.

It's been truly comforting to know I can walk a few feet and have a quiet and even meditative cuddle session with a loving pooch. I know what you're thinking: why not just get one? Well, I (used to) travel/tour a bunch, and it can be a bit cruel to keep them in a cramped apartment like mine. I can still confidently say one day I will own a pooch, and I hope it's a dog as calming, endearing, and loveable as the best record store dog ever, Neji—because my offer of trading records for Neji didn't go over too well.