Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Strange Acquaintance

The man, tall and wide at his front, with long uncombed hair, wide eyes and an unruly and rather patchy beard spread across his pock-marked face, was the kind of man, who if seen on the street or alone on the lake path, would've caused others to give him a wide berth. But he was not alone, and because of his animal companion he drew many curious, if not affectionate glances. He coaxed his friend along, not tugging on her leash or rushing, as so many other walkers do, but walking directly beside her, offering soft words of guidance. She took her time, each step gracefully following the last and she smiled into the sunshine, squinting as she and her friend walked directly into it. Her tail was up, tall and straight, a striped stem rising into the light but bouncing casually, confidently, as though today and this walk were no different than any other. Duncan, who is a curious and sometimes overly-friendly walker, took an immediate interest in her, and as we approached them, he tugged on the leash and pulled me in their direction. I tried to reign him in but even before he neared she'd spotted him and flopped over on her side, exposing her fat, white belly.

"I'm sorry I said," holding my breath as Dunc pushed his cold nose into her.

Her companion smiled. "Carl doesn't mind at all. She gets this a lot."

"Carl?" I asked.

He nodded."She was so little when I rescued her that I couldn't tell what she was. The people at the shelter thought she was a boy so I named her Carl. I liked the name and we'd both grown used to it so I kept it," he explained. As he spoke I thought of Cricket, the kitten my roommates Wendy and Jen and I had adopted a few months after graduating from college. We'd been told he was a girl but learned otherwise from our vet after his first visit.

I watched Duncan sniff Carl's belly while she beamed from ear to ear and stretched out on the sidewalk. Others walkers continued in their sadly hurried march around the lake, smiling at Carl and Duncan, who seemed fast friends. Because Duncan was so much bigger, I kept a tight grip on the leash and pulled only when he scooched up next to her and rolled over on his side almost on top of her. Carl hardly moved.

We talked for a minute until Floyd gave his nylon leash a few quick tugs and Carl jumped up. "Time to go, girl. Dinner won't make itself." We said our farewells and Duncan and I watched as they ambled down the sidewalk into the sunset. Duncan's tail wagged and he whimpered a little as Carl went. She gave him one last look over her shoulder and kept going, purring the most contented purr a cat has ever purred.

The lake trail is full of discoveries, from the strange and incomprehensible conversations of the Juicy Buns to the roller-blading priest who listens to Night Ranger on his iPod, but I don't think I've ever been as impressed or startled as I was by Floyd and Carl. How we missed them for a year I have no idea, and I certainly hope we run into them again soon.

Despite the recent embarrassing political posturing on the part of the Republican candidate, Friday's debate still appears to be on. Don't forget to watch it. Host some friends and neighbors if you can and remind others that tomorrow will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the candidates and the issues which matter so much during this election. If you've made other plans please tape it and take the time to watch it yourself. The brief sound-bites the news channels will offer are not enough. You should see it for yourself, in context and with an open mind. Learn more here.


Greg said...

Badum and I are hoping to pick up the walking habit once the household is all set up. What's good for pups must be good for kitties, too!

There's a leash and harness waiting for us to try downstairs with the landlords, actually!!

Cheryl said...

I think "strangers" get blamed for alot of things. Most of the best people I know are/were strangers. Good for you and Dunc for taking the time.
I must share the news... Duncan is getting a new cousin. Casey, Chris, and Wyatt are happy to announce a new companion into their home in the very near future. He is a Jack Russell Terrier, about a year old and in need of attention. His current owner (and family) seem to not have enough time to share with him. At least she (owner)has the sense to realize this. I'm so happy to be a Grandma again.

Lori said...

I thought you were going to tell me she was a skunk! :-D

caboval said...

What beautiful things we find along our way. That was an awesome story and I like how our companions meet other people for us! Im so glad you took their picture too!

Sue said...

I love it.