Giving thanks for small joys

The dogs and I are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, full of runs and walks and good food. And naps. And treats. And hugs and snuggles. Life is good.

One of the joys of walking the girls through the neighborhood on our daily constitutionals is the chance encounter with a stranger who wants to admire and meet them.

The girls at Juanita Beach Park, Thanksgiving Day.
Strolling through the park today, I see a tall, thin woman in her 80s approaching. I know her age because she told me, the first time I met her in the neighborhood, relishing my shock. She looks and moves much younger than her years. She's Russian, her accent noticeable yet her English good. She always admires the girls when we happen to meet.

The woman is wearing a thick red wool coat, buttoned high on her neck, black slacks, a black wool hat on her head and matching gloves on her hands. Very put together. She recognizes us, and holds her hands out to the girls as we approach. Even though we've seen the woman only three or four times over three years, the girls also seem to remember her. They pull me along as they rush to greet her.

"You know, I'm from Russia," the woman tells me as she puts one hand on each girl's head. She likely doesn't remember that she's told me this before. "In Russia, we only had big dogs. When I moved here, and saw so many small dogs..." she raises her eyebrows and shakes her head a bit "well, I try to love them all. But I like the big dogs."

"Me, too," I assure her, smiling. "Real dogs," I say. She laughs, sharing the joke, smiling and waving as we part ways.

Meadow at Juanita Beach Park with blue heron watching warily.

A couple of weeks earlier at the same park, Meadow and I met another woman in her 80s (they do seem to enjoy bragging about their age; I probably will too, when I get there). This woman is short, a little stooped in the shoulders, but spry and moved steadily as she walked through the park. She made a beeline for Meadow and as she ran her hands through Meadow's thick ruff, started telling me about her own dog, an old Pom who preferred to stay home on that cold day. I told her I could relate because my old girl Maia, too, had elected to stay home. The woman chatted on, about her life, and her dear departed husband who died 20 years ago who was the love of her life, and how her mother didn't like dogs and wouldn't let her have one as a child when they lived in Nova Scotia, and....I sensed her loneliness, so despite Meadow's impatience to keep moving, I kept her close to the woman as she shared her life story for a good ten minutes. Meadow, sensing we were going to be awhile, sat down to wait.

Two days later, taking both girls for a walk, we headed toward the beach park. A half block before we got there, a car coming toward us honked, having just left the park's entrance. People sometimes honk, usually someone I know, so I looked to see who it was. But I didn't recognize the car. When it got right beside us, a little old woman behind the wheel smiled broadly and waved with enthusiasm. The woman from Nova Scotia!

I returned her big smile, but I doubt she was able to see it in her rear view mirror as she continued up the road.

Here are some random photos, taken over the past few months, of some new and old friends girls and I met during our daily strolls.

In August, Meadow made a new friend at the beach.

Meadow and Quentin watched Pearlie dig a deep hole as Beth got tangled in leashes.

Following Pearlie's lead, Quentin learns to dig.

Per-Ola holds Meadow's and Quentin's leashes as Quentin practiced his digging skills in October.

Quentin checked the dimensions of his excavation.

The more dignified Meadow watched Quentin work from a safe distance.

In October, Meadow met Bella the Siberian husky, age 4 months. On a walk in November, Maia also had the pleasure of her acquaintance.

Per-Ola and Quentin chase waves and ducks on a stormy November day; the girls and I keep our feet dry. Humans and dogs barely made it to their respective homes before the rain storm in the distance made its way overhead.

Much to be grateful for in this season of thanks. Number one of my list? My dogs, for the joy they bring into my life, every day.

Rebecca WallickComment