Friday, November 8, 2013

A Tale of Three Dogs, Minus Two

Some years ago, in my neighborhood, I began noticing a man who would walk his three dogs. They were all small, white, West Highland Terriers. Anyone who knows Westies knows they are small, but sturdy and fearless. Cute little dudes.

The man is somewhere around his late fifties, I would guess. He is sort of heavy, with a balding pate and, usually, when I picture him, I imagine a winter jacket with the collar turned up.

When I first noticed him, several years ago, he would walk his three dogs but he would only hold the leash of two of them -- the younger ones. As the "pack" made their way down the pavement, they would be followed by their elder, his leash dragging behind him on the concrete. I imagined this was just precaution; just in case the venerable old chap got a whiff of his youth in the scent of a passing squirrel and decided to make a dash for it.

I would see these four, day after day, and it always made me smile.

Then, maybe two years ago, he walked by, but with only two dogs. The most-honored, white-furred fellow was no longer with his family and, I imagined, no longer with the world at all. (I was struck by how much I missed the delicate sound of the dragging leash.) I let out a sigh and smiled a sad, warm concession to the cycle of life and death.

This morning, (maybe two years later) I saw the man again. This time, there was only one dog and he was slowly walking by his master's side, the leash dragging behind him, as the two took their leisurely stroll under the clouds and through the fallen leaves. The man's hair was a little whiter.

At one point, the little dog stopped to "do his business" and the man crouched down, cleaned it up, and, smiling, scratched his canine companion under the chin.

They walked off together, the man with his hands comfortably clasped behind his back, the dog dragging his leash over the beautiful, orange eventuality of the season that was littered around their six feet.


  1. I've not had time to come here for a while, so what an especially beautiful post to find on my return.