With Nicholas cradled in my right arm and swagging a loop of leash over the side, I step down the apartment staircase into a convergence of early morning dogs.
Big, black dog, panting and straining against a synched-up leash held close by a neighbor. "Good morning." "Good morning." Passing by us and up the steps.
Woman and a brown Boxer coming in from outside, woman and two Basset hounds heading for the same door. "Oh! Good morning." "Good morning."
Me with my little Chihuahua in arms. "Good morning. Good morning."
Wait for the convergence of dogs to clear, wait for two Basset hounds to clatter echoey claws down the marble steps in the entryway. Then a bit of quiet and a lick on the nose from Nicholas, and we're through the entryway, down the last set of stairs, and out into the six o'clock black.