I walk my sweet Canelo Dog at least twice a day. And I mean, I walk him. I do not simply take him outside, ask him to potty, and come right back in. We actually walk for 20-30 minutes each time.
When the weather is nice and I have time to spare, I take Canelo on even longer walks. Today is my day off, so I do have extra time on my hands. The temperatures have finally lowered and the sun isn’t killer either. Canelo’s birthday is tomorrow and it happens to be National Walk Your Dog Week. All the more reason for a long walk this morning.
When we go on long walks, Canelo and I pass a Senior Living community. More often than not, we cross paths with one if its residents, a gentleman who gets around on a motorized wheelchair while his little Shih Tzu strolls along his side. I believe he’s a war veteran; he wears a navy blue cap with seals and the American flag patched onto it. His little dog is a firecracker who barks incessantly whenever he sees Canelo. The man quietly, but forcibly, tells him to behave. It’s all very cute.
It warms my heart to know that this man has a companion and friend (the best kind). He is so devoted to his dog. He always hangs on tightly to that leash. He wheels out of the way if he sees that a big dog is passing by and might get too close to his little one. He talks to him, tells him to quiet down, instructs him on which way to go, and when it’s necessary, asks him to jump back on his lap.
This morning, I expected to see them as I always do. As I rounded the corner leading to the Senior community and got closer to it, I spotted a gentleman in a wheelchair still relatively close to the residence building. Canelo and I continued to approach him and I soon realized that his chair had not moved. He simply had it parked in that corner of the paths. It became clear that he was not intending to move, so I had Canelo turn onto the grass in order to avoid walking too close to the gentleman, my fear being that his little dog would get all worked up.
There was no little dog.
My heart broke. I could not bear the thought of this man losing his beloved dog. I wondered what else this man has lost throughout the years. I wondered if that dog was all he had left. I wondered if that dog was his biggest source of happiness or maybe the only one. Thoughts of loneliness and heartache entered my mind. I thought about the pain I have felt when I have lost a pet and imagined that it must be so much worse for an elderly person. I realized that there was no point in him moving from that spot because he no longer had a dog that needed walking. It was all so heartbreaking.
I looked back thinking that I may not have been observant enough and that the dog may have actually been there. He was not.
There is one thing I should warn everyone about. If I am ever emotional, I will cry on the spot. It does not matter where I am, I have no shame. I do not care who sees me or what they will think of me. I simply cry. Of course, I cried this morning. With my own dog walking ahead of me, I cried for that man and his dog. Other people walked right by me, and I cried.
I don’t know why I did it, but I looked back one more time. The man had not moved and was still parked in his corner. There was a second man in a wheelchair now, though. He had stopped to talk to the first man. Within seconds, the first man finally moved from his parked spot and made his way towards the residence building. The second man headed down the sidewalk towards me.
Lo, and behold! A spunky Shih tzu jumped out of his lap and onto the sidewalk! I had mistaken the first man for the second. The little dog is okay! He strutted right along the sidewalk, happy as can be, his dad wheeling right next to him. His tail wagged as he walked, just as it always does, and he looked around observing other people, the squirrels, the air.
I continued to cry. Happy tears. With all that is going on in this world, I felt that all is okay in the universe because this man still has his little dog. I cried for my own dog and for the fact that I am so damn lucky to be celebrating thirteen years with him. Life can be that simple. It can give you such trivial sources of extreme happiness that can completely change your mind frame for the better. You have to notice them, though. Acknowledge them and let them make you happy.
I hope everyone has a happy day. Walk your dogs, y’all.