The beauty of walking a dog is that it forces you, or rather, allows you, to see the daily beauty of a world which would otherwise remain safely on the other side of a pane of glass. Were there no Duncan there would be no tromping, no cold breath suspended before me, except perhaps near my car as I scraped ice off windows, or in a rush at the between places: from car to work, from car to home and the other times we don't count, ignore and hurry through. There would be no music of a morning snowfall, listening for the chime of flakes catching on branches and needles, sifting slowly down to white earth where they sigh soft notes that fade into a silence only the trees can hear. There would be no whistling of walking songs, some made up in the moment, or humming for no one to hear but frost and dogs. The world, special and magnificent in its winter quiet, joyous beyond words, except the poetry kind, would go unnoticed as it does so often for far too many. Surely this day will be lost amid all the the others, even to me, but somewhere inside I will know I'd been a part of it, actually lived it and walked through it, stood witness to sounds and sensations that were meant for all but shared only with Duncan and myself. If, when I die, there is a God and he asks me what my life meant, I hope I can say, "That day, that cold February day after the sudden and brief thaw, my dog took me to the park and led me off the sidewalk to a place where we watched the snow collect in the trees, and as it wafted down on us, he turned his big red head up into the flakes, closed his eyes and snapped at them like they were flies or smoke. His muzzle turned white and he looked prematurely old, but wise, and so I did the same because he'd led me there and what else was there to do? And in this way he reminded me of the old ways, of the ancient, unspoken joy of seeing without sight." And if this God is there I expect he will nod his head, for he will have known many dogs and their often silly ways, and he will rest his heavy, warm hand on my shoulder and say, "Your dog has taught you well. Go to him, he has waited a long time." And that is all the heaven I'll need.