Ellie and I start our walks by heading to the nearby dog park, passing one of her greatest admirers on the way, sweet little Yum Yum. As a young pup she’d pretend she had to go to the bathroom so she would get let out and could come running to say hello as we passed. These days we often see her up on her porch, tail wagging furiously, a gate blocking her escape. She must know the jingle of Ellie’s dog tags as she walks as Yum comes out to greet us whenever we approach. If she’s out in the yard I’ll walk Ellie over to see her before crossing the street, she’s always so excited to see us.
Yet for all that Ellie has perhaps an even bigger admirer that lives nearby, a young dog named Noki that gets overjoyed whenever he sees Ellie and can’t stop licking her in the face. Apparently he doesn’t do it to other dogs and we’re not sure what it is about Ellie that delights him so. One time we met him out walking instead of in the dog park, he was in a harness but he was straining so hard to come and meet us that he busted the snaps on his restraints and broke free.
She has other young admirers but none quite so worshipful as these two. She has human fans as well, she’s an easy dog to love, someone came up to us in the dog park recently and commented on how much she loved the relationship I have with her. She’s been with us for over seven years now so our bond is pretty strong. A few days later while we were out in the neighborhood someone came up and said how happy it makes him every time he sees us.
I try to spend the time on our walks in the moment with her, to forget all the pressures and stresses of the regular world and find joy in our time together. I love the quick little glances she gives me from time to time, I know she’s just checking in to see if it’s OK if she lingers a little longer near an interesting smell or if we can head down the next street, but it feels like she’s saying “thanks for being my buddy”. Her face is more gray than black these days but she remains, as always, my great delight.