What a beautiful fall day! Especially at this time of year, a day like this seems a miracle not to be taken for granted. Louise and I headed out to Thousand Acres Park with our two mutts. The dogs can run off-leash there for miles; they love it no matter the weather. Of course.
I know it sounds awful, but I’m really not much of a dog person. I find their indiscriminate affection and good humor rather off-putting. Most of them smell bad. In considering dogs, however, I have to admit they have a lot going for them. I could learn something. For example, dogs seem to take good fortune and disappointment equally in stride. Filet mignon or a crumb of dry kibble? It’s all thrilling to them. Unless they’ve been maltreated, dogs expect the best at every turn. A dog would not be surprised to be handed a $100 bill.
We had a lovely walk. There were lots of people and lots of dogs. On our way back, a young woman and her dog walked by. “Have you seen a yellow lab?”, she asked. No, we hadn’t seen any unattended dogs. She didn’t seem too worried and we went on our way.
We were almost back to the parking lot when we saw an old yellow lab standing rather dejectedly by the side of the trail, clearly on the lookout for its owner. “I bet that’s the dog!”, said Louise. We decided we would lure the dog over, put it on a leash and find the woman. “C’mon, girl!”, we coaxed. It was still a ways away and didn’t budge. Just then the woman and her other dog came up behind us and spotted the lab. “Lucy!” The dog’s head popped up and she came running. “Oh, we got separated.” the woman explained with relief. The other dog sniffed Lucy’s face all over, nudging her affectionately.
Everyone headed to their cars. We chatted briefly with some hunters who were coming back empty-handed. “It’s too nice out. They can see the strings on the decoys. Oh, well. It’s a great day to be outside”, one of them said. I made a detour to the restroom.
When I came out I saw the woman by her car. She was giving Lucy and her other dog some water. “I’m glad she didn’t get lost”, I said. “Me too!” She had a really sweet smile. I hadn’t planned it but found myself saying, “Can I talk with you for a minute?” “Yeah!”, she said, without hesitation. I told her about my project and handed her the $100. “Oh, my god! For real?” She gave me a big hug. She told me she’s looking for a new place to live and could really use the money.
We talked about my mom for a minute and then she told me that her mother has been sick with a nasty form of brain cancer. It’s been really hard on the whole family. “It’s weird”, she said. “It’s like, when you lose your mother you have to become a whole other person.” She hugged me again. “Thank you”, she said. “This really brightens my day.”