A Regular Feature

Maia gets to decide whether she wants to go for our usual evening walk or not. At her advanced age - 13.5 years, which is the equivalent of a human in her mid-90s - I figure she's earned that right. Lucky for me, she almost always wants to go out with me and Meadow for a slow ramble of one to two miles. There's so much to sniff, patches of grass pee on, people to meet. The territory she covers may be shrinking, but the information she acquires through her nose per square inch covered is still as varied and intense as always.

Tonight Maia decides to stay home. I suspect the warm, humid evening air contributes to her decision.

So Meadow and I head out on our own. When Meadow isn't connected to Maia by the coupler, she tends to move with a bouncier step. Having been given a haircut yesterday, her step is especially light tonight. We head to the park on the lake, Meadow trotting easily in her long-legged, long-bodied stride.

Meadow with kite boarders taking advantage of the wind in the background.
On the way, we wait at a crosswalk for the light to change. Two women runners also wait, along with a young woman in a sweatshirt, a backpack on her shoulders. When the light changes, the runners dash across, while Meadow and I follow the woman with the pack as she walks across the street. On the other side, the woman turns the same way along the sidewalk as me and Meadow. It's then that the woman speaks to me.

"Where's the other one?" she asks.

"Home," I say. "She's old and doesn't like the heat, so when she decided to stay behind, I didn't argue."

"I don't like the heat either," the woman says as she turns off the sidewalk toward an arts and crafts business. 

That brief exchange reminds me that the girls and I are a regular feature in the neighborhood. We've been walking around here for three years now. People notice us. How could they not? Two big, wolf-like dogs, on a coupler, followed by a fairly petite woman who doesn't appear to have the strength to control them. I'm sure we're quite the sight. Once, passing a bus stop, I heard one teenage boy say to his friends, "Those dogs walk everywhere!" People in cars and on foot regularly smile at us, tell me my dogs are gorgeous, and frequently ask to meet them. 

Our walks through the neighborhood are usually the highlight of my day. I like to think we bring some joy to others as well.

Sadly, I'll hear the same sort of question as the young woman's tonight, with greater regularity, as Maia opts out of our walks more and more. For now, I can easily assure people that Maia's fine and choosing to stay home. What I dread is the day when I have to provide a much sadder explanation.

Rebecca WallickComment