To Have and to Hold

I was walking my pup Rex the other day, or maybe I should say Rex was walking me.

Since we were working on leash training, Rex and I made a quick visit to a neighborhood of ethnic restaurants and shops. I thought it might be helpful to familiarize my boy with traffic lights and crosswalks.

A pleasant, silver haired woman on the sidewalk commented to me, “Oh, I wish I could have a dog like that, but I can’t in the place where I’m living.”

The expression on her face saddened, but just briefly.

She soon started to smile once Rex began to dance excitedly in figure eights around my ankles.

Note, the dance was not at all part of my robust training plan.

I thought about her comment afterwards feeling a little guilty about the joy Rex and my other two dogs bring me.

I receive an abundance of riches with each lick of the hand and warm welcome given as I walk through my door nightly after work.

And my canine crew’s helped anchor my family and I during the rocky storms of health issues the last few years.

The sweet lady on the sidewalk reminded me of another woman who’d roomed with my mother in a memory care unit after a stroke.

So tiny and frail, I’d often find the resident in a fetal position on her bed. She’d always be clutching the same well worn stuffed animal.

It was a balding little gray dog.

I wished it could have been real.

Yet I was thinking today maybe it was in a way.

That stuffed dog could have been a surrogate for one special pup loved long ago.

And one that also used to lick her delicate hand.

When or if there comes a time in life when I’m no longer able to have a dog, I hope memories of the dogs I once loved will do the same.

I believe they will.

And if my health allows, I’ll continue working as a therapy dog volunteer.

Even if I have to beg to borrow a Bassett Hound for each visit.

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