Today was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Husband Mike was up, getting ready to take resident greyhounds Ava and Alex on a morning romp with their Sunday morning playgroup. Lucky, our latest foster, had a sore foot from a misstep yesterday so, knowing we wouldn’t be able to hold him back from running with the hounds and risking further aggravation, I told Mike to go on without us and I would just give Lucky a walk around the neighborhood and work on his leash manners.
The neighborhood streets of Sacramento seemed quiet in the damp, grey and foggy morning light. And it felt really good to be out with just one beastie (don’t know how long since that’s happened), both of us in the zone.
Up ahead I saw a man I’ve seen around the neighborhood for years with his part Australian Shepard mix, Indiana Jones, or Jones for short. He stopped to ask about Lucky and we chatted for a bit. As I commented on Jones, he said, “Yep, he used to have some real pep in his walk like Lucky there. But I’m afraid his squirrel chasing days are over. He’s gettin’ up there, ya know. Just like me. You know, I’m a retired officer of the U. S. Marines. 78 years old now. Well, got to go. Me and Jones don’t like to be late for breakfast.”
A little further on a woman with a young female Boxer stopped us. She was curious about the greyhound breed, as so many people are, and of course we talked for a while. She ended up telling me about her two daughters, one who had some physical disabilities, both attending the elementary school we were standing in front of.
Finally, on the homestretch of our excursion, I saw a man on a bicycle pulling onto the sidewalk up ahead, dismounting and obviously waiting for me to approach. He was extremely disheveled, carrying bags of cans and clothing and bedding. As I got within reach he said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I’m not asking for anything. I just saw you walking with that beautiful dog and I wondered if maybe I could just pet him.” I said that of course that would be all right. He apologized for drinking on a Sunday, then told me all about growing up in Sacramento. He said, “You know, my uncle used to run the Chevron gas station that was right over there on that corner. They lived out of town on some land and when I was really little they had two big greyhounds. And my aunt used to fuss every time my uncle took them out and they came back muddy and tracked dirt all over her clean kitchen floors. I was just a little kid, but I loved those dogs. But now that farm is gone. My aunt and uncle are gone too. And as you can see, the Chevron station’s gone. Thank you for letting me pet the dog. You know, most people won’t even speak to me. It makes me sad.”
As Lucky and I walked the last few blocks home, I thought about all the people I’ve met and all the stories I’ve heard since adopting first greyhound Lola 5 years ago. Not a week goes by that I don’t have some wonderful conversation with someone. And it’s all because of the dogs. I would never have some of the rich experiences I’ve had, with people with whom I would never have come in contact, were it not for them. It’s something else I’ve learned to treasure.