Please Won’t You be my Neighbor?
Owning a dog in winter is a burden. My little dog, the ever curious, needs twice-daily walks as much as she needs food. So in this winter from Hell, I have a 5 to 10 minute ordeal to honor her needs.
• Which boots do I need? Hiking boots, rain boots, cleated boots?
• From that choice I can select the right weight of socks.
• Which trousers – rain pants, snow pants, jeans?
• Which coat – down coat, raincoat, or double-layered winter coat?
My dog lies on the rug, her head on her paws, looking disgusted but hopeful.
• The final choices: the right hat, the right gloves – fingerless gloves, or mittens.
Okay, all bundled up like the Pillsbury doughboy, I am ready to announce “WALKIES! Bella!” and then it is time for her to get “dressed.”
All this is worth it on the days we walk by Carla’s house a few blocks away. Her dog, a little old man, seems to like the company of my bouncy still-a-puppy little girl. This gives Carla and me a few minutes to chit chat and generally share good feelings.
This is not the time for deep conversation or a chance to get to know each other better. Like chats with other dog walkers, we exchange information about groomers, and food, and vets. We talk about our dog’s habits and traumas, and generally commiserate with each other. There is a warmth in our exchange that puts a bounce in my step.
Carla’s dog is not a walker – he’s a sniffer, checking all the pee mail and squirrels along the route. Carla stands around, beaming kindness and light – not through a smile only – her whole being seems to radiate friendliness. I am sure everyone who meets her feels her warmth.
Invariably, our dogs pull us in different directions and I walk/run off with Bella, I am suffused with an inner light. Yes! Life is worth living. Yes! My neighborhood is a safe and supportive place.
What an incredible gift it is to be the kind of person whose very presence emits joy. Mr. Rogers would approve.
Thank you, Carla, for being my neighbor.
Is there a “joy emitter” in YOUR neighborhood? I would love to hear your story.