These days I should be walking Lucy before the sun rises. By the time it’s 8 a.m., the temperature has climbed to the uncomfortable level. By 10 a.m. it’s unbearable. And yet, even when my morning activities mean a walk at 8 or 9 a.m., Lucy still wants to go. That’s the great thing about dogs. They never say no.
Yesterday on our walk we had two people encounters. A older white-haired man rode by on a bike and then, about 20 yards away, he seemed to change his mind about riding by. He turned his bike around and pedaled back toward us. I have to admit that I instinctively tensed. He slowed down and stopped in front of us. I unlocked my phone in case I needed to call 9-1-1.
“That’s a beautiful dog,” he said.
“Thank you,” I replied. Lucy wandered over to him.
“I had to put my dog down a month ago,” he said, rubbing his hand over Lucy’s back. The man’s lips were quivering.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“She was a Lab, too. My best friend for 13 years.”
“I bet she was,” I said. I was totally tongue-tied by this emotional outpouring from a perfect stranger. And a man, no less. But that’s the power of dogs.
Abruptly, he turned his bike around, waved, and pedaled away, too choked up to speak anymore.
Lucy and I continued up the street, pausing only at the brick base of a mailbox that must have held hundreds of “messages” left by other animals.
When we were almost home, a woman jogged by. Her arms and chest glistened with sweat. Her face was scarlet, her breathing raspy, her gait awkward. You could tell she was suffering. And yet, she took a moment to say, “You’ve got a great walking partner there.”
“Yes I do,” I said. “Thank you.”