The best dog walks are the ones where I don’t bump into anyone. Just me, the fur kids and nature.
I know I’m not the only anti-social, lone wolf out there. Indeed, I recognize the body language in others: head down, eyes averted, the abrupt change in direction, the slowing down or quickening of pace to avoid that awkward crossing of paths, ducking into the woods to stare up some random tree like you lost your favourite kite/kitten/raptor, pretending to look for dog poop in long grass, untying then re-tying your shoelaces in double knots real slow.
Yep, I’ve got dozens of strategies to avoid people, but alas, they are only effective when it comes to adults.
I’d almost made it home intact this afternoon when I heard the sound of running feet, lots of them. Flashes of navy blue and Kelley green. Reflector strips on grubby sneakers. Three pairs of sneakers.
“Can we pet your dogs, lady?”
I looked up. Three boys already crouched down with arms extended before I could answer.
“Sami, sit!” I tugged on his leash to stop him from jumping and he sat.
“Hey, my name is Sam too!”
I looked more closely at the boy named Sam and recognized him from my son’s former elementary school. They are about five years apart and I hadn’t seen Sam since my son was in grade six.
“Oh my goodness, you’ve grown, Sam! What grade are you in now?”
I asked the other two boys what grades they were in and they replied five and three, respectively and told me their names were Natarajan (pronounced Na-tarzan) and Santosh. Both boys had their left ears pierced, one with a gold stud in it and the other with a small gold hoop which I thought was totally cool.
We chatted about school and homework and they tried to get Gamin to sit, switching to French when I told them Gami was French but of course, he still wouldn’t sit which they thought was a hoot.
After a while, I was itching to get home so I pulled the dogs away from the boys and headed towards the house, thanking them for the visit.
“Bye Sami! Bye Gamin!”
Almost home. Running feet again. I turn around.
“Hey, we got snacks for you!”
Sam with outstretched hands. In them, a Kirkland granola bar, a cheese and cracker snack pack and a small bag of sour patch kids. Natarajan and Santosh flanking him to the left and right.
“That’s really nice of you but the dogs can’t eat those.”
“But they’re for you!”
You know the scene where the Grinch’s heart grows three times bigger? That was my heart then and there.
So thank you, Sam, Natarajan and Santosh for interrupting my walk today. Thank you for your running feet, your guilelessness and most of all, thank you for your generous hearts.