The men who live in the woods behind my house had been getting out of hand for some time. They were all in their mid-fifties, golfers formerly, and meat eaters -- jolly men in general -- but since... [+]
It seems the weather has lifted for the moment in my little world and the wiggly ass alarm clock that hangs out at the condo woke me to a beautiful morning. Leashed and spastic, Buddy pulled me out into another early adventure. We were met almost immediately by a neighbor on her morning stroll. Buddy loves his neighbours and he pulled me in her direction making as close to a beeline as he could considering his wildly wagging backend. Smiling she bent to greet the beast as Buddy dancing in a kind of focused abandon strained against his harness. When she got the chance she glanced in my direction. Her eyes widened in suprise. It was the first time we'd seen each other since my haircut. By the time she got over the shock, Buddy had seen another friend down the road a bit and it was time to go. As we made our farewells, she assured me I looked much better with short hair.
Our next encounter was an elderly couple (at least 5 years older than me). They have become a pretty regular feature of the fairweather strolls but a rarely see them on cold or wet mornings. I guess that's part of the tradeoff for owning a mutt. Anyway, they feel about dogs like I feel about cats. I like other people's cats but I don't want one of my own. So on sunny mornings, they get their dog fix from Buddy who provides the service, albeit more subdued than our first encounter, with obvious joy. Speaking lightly of tourists and the weather, we walked the same path for a minute until Buddy, his interest captured by some mysterious notion gently but persistently angled toward a beach access. Wishing each other good days, we parted ways. She mentioned that she missed my long hair. I have never actually seen them on the sand. I wonder if one of them has bad knees or something. It scares me a little. To think there may come a time when I won't be able to stroll the beach.
The sun had already left the horizon bathed in it's afterglow and hung low in the sky as we hit the sand. The lifeguards were setting up their domains and the landscape was dotted with eastern facing souls walking the surfline and sitting on blankets in the sand. Buddy, always on the lookout for some love or a snack, made his way to some folks and passed others by. Most people that catch his happy submissive pet me dance stop for a moment to give Buddy a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. His reaction to people, while always happy and free of harmful intent, has varying degrees of enthusiasm. With some people Buddy will pull on his harness even after they have physical contact while with others it seems that just a light petting or a couple of excited sniffs will do the trick. I attribute some of these variations to the time of the walk and just how tired Buddy is but there are other factors too, ones that my excitable boy keeps to himself.
As we walked up off the beach Buddy decided he wanted to meet an older guy sitting on a bench at the beach access. He was sitting looking out over the ocean grizzled and grey. He wore an old wife beater t with cotton shorts black socks and military issue sandals with the leather strapping and tire treads. I got the feeling he was sitting as erect as his bent body would allow. His hands were on his knees. His bare arms stretched out before him covered in tattoos. Buddy sat in front of his latest interest and waited, shaking with excitement as he leaned forward to pet him. I was close enough now to see his tats were all military. They were not the result of a desire to alter his appearance. They were remembrances. Permanent and visible reminders of defining moments in his life. Given his age and some of the ink this guy had. I figure he spent some time a while back when he was really in the shit. He sat cradling Buddys jaw in one hand as he rubbed that top of his head with the other. Surprisingly, Buddy didn't pull away but stood wagging and swaying as he received the love. Me and the old guy exchanged "mornin's" and I stood for a moment until he stopped petting the beast. With hardly a backward glance Buddy turned to go.
So, another walk under our belt, we headed to the condo. Buddy, who's awareness is on a completely different level than mine, wondered back and forth from distraction to distraction as I thought of body aches and kindly old killers. I wonder if Buddy could tell. A different guy now, at peace and unafraid. Can Buddy sense the scars on the inside that are represented by the marks on the surface. Have the scars faded like the ink? I hope so. I think Buddy does too.