I saw the woman marching with her Great Dane for the first time back in 2004.
We had just moved into our home, and on an afternoon walk with Emmett I spotted her on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. They were hard to miss, those two- she, tall and strong and purposeful, attended by a small grey horse who upon closer inspection turned out to be a beautiful harlequin Great Dane. She nodded at me, and I nodded back before the dog dragged her past and on down the street.
I saw them every afternoon on the same stretch of road, her arms pumping with the effort of keeping up with the dog. He trotted along happily, pulling her up the hill. We always nodded to each other, two dog owners greeting one another in acknowledgement of one of those great dog owning traditions, the evening stroll.
After Emmett died, I stopped going for a while, but I would see her out there as I drove by on the way home from work, woman and dog, without fail, every evening. When I started again with Brody, she smiled and nodded on her way past. No words, but I felt the unspoken sentiment: good to see you back.
I haven’t seen her for a while, mostly, I assumed, since I have been getting home late from work and my timing no longer coincides with hers.
I saw her yesterday on my way home. She walked a little more slowly than usual, head down. Keeping her company her was nothing but shadows.
Perhaps he is ill, I thought to myself, and continued to drive.
Today, as I passed, I saw her again. She was staring at the ground, thoughts drowned by whatever was playing on her ipod. I recognized the set of her shoulders. I would not be seeing her walk with her dog again.
I wanted to stop the car, roll down my window, and just say, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t, because if I were out on a walk with my earbuds in and a stranger did that I would probably pepper spray them, but perhaps she could sense my sadness as I drove by.
All I can do is wait and hope one day Brody and I pass her on the road, her with a small mule-sized dog or maybe a Yorkie or something, so I can nod to her and smile. I look forward to it.
Thats a very heart warming story. There is a lady in my neighborhood who seems to be taking her lab on its last few walks lately too. Ive never met her either, a wave is all that ties us together, I want to say something to her but dont have the right words. so I just wave.
Lisa W says
What a nice story. You should still say something to her, Dr. V. You’re not really a stranger and you know it would mean the world to her to hear such simple words from someone who understands. I am so sad for her…
I agree and would add… losing a pet can be devastating because we lose a family member but also because it’s a loss that not everyone recognizes/acknowledges. If you would feel comfortable, I think it would mean alot to her that you noticed her dog is no longer with her and sympathize with her loss.
You know, that’s one reason (other than the deafening silence of living in a no-dog household) that I went to get Clyde realtively soon after I lost Shaq to cancer. Shaq and I walked every day (as Clyde and I do), and one of my neighbors (who only knew me as “the one who walks the big black Lab”) saw me out in the driveway one day and said, “I sure do miss seeing you walking your dog every day. I hope to see you doing it again soon.” That was the final little push I needed to admit to myself that I wanted to be doing it again soon too!
What a touching story, Dr. V!
Wonderful story and wonderful lesson that we never know whose lives we touch — and are touched by.
Would you want someone to say something to you? Go with your heart Doc. My heart want to find out where she walks and travel there, from Oklahoma, and give her a hug! 🙂 Maybe she reads your blog. I sure hope so. Then she will know how many kindred spirits there are here. Hugs to you both!
A sad story, but sweetly and sensitively told. Thank you for this.
And yes, I definitely think you should say something to her.
Would you please stop making me cry first thing in the morning? I haven’t even had my coffee yet. 🙂
I’m with you on that one! 😉
crazy weinerdog lady says
See, I come up the the front desk at work to relieve the receptionist for lunch and end up crying up here in front of everyone!!! 🙁
Peggy Frezon says
Aww that is so sad. Like most pet owners, I have experienced the loss of a wonderful dog (well several) and there is no easy way to get through it. Please share the follow up story, should you decide to say something to her.
Damn that *KEVIN* !
I think folks brave enough to love a big breed are really special. I know there are no guarantees in life, but I’m scared of the thought of losing my doggies after 12-13 years together. I really don’t know how they do it. So very brave.
Lynn Buck says
“strangers are only friends you haven’t met yet” … I believe you’ve crossed paths for a reason, call it “divine intervention” … you’ve seen each other, smiled & waved for several years … become “kindred spirits” of sorts due to your love of your dogs … you’ve both lost pets and truly understand the sense of loss it brings, perhaps you’ll be a “smile” & “hug” on a day when all seems lost … just knowing someone else cares can make all the difference in one’s day … I’ve lost pets and would “welcome” your kindness & heartfelt sympathy … you may be the “one” she can voice her sadness to … and who knows … you may be the “one” who brings her hope of finding a “new companion” when she’s ready … as you found Brody after Emmett.
Just follow your heart & don’t worry about approaching her … you’ll both feel better by stopping to console her … perhaps you could get a “sympathy card” and next time you see her, in the car or walking Brody … stop & introduce yourself … you’d be amazed at what a “stranger’s kindness” can mean <3 Hugs to you & Brody and the wonderful good deeds you do! xo
Annette Frey says
A very powerful story. I hope you do see her again with a small sized mule!
Annette Frey says
I mean a small mule-sized dog.
The picture you painted of her strong and confident with her large friend, and sad and lonely now without him was very finely done. I agree that it may be just the acknowledgment of a friend – for you are certainly not strangers, now – that she needs to know that others understand, care and want her to share her life again with another friend. For our friends are all different – there is no replacing any of them, but making a new one is always a gift!
not sure if it’s your way with words or my pms-ing, but dang it you!!!! 🙂
I hate Kevin. I’m sad now. I think you should say something to her.
One day I looked out the kitchen window. There was a lady across the street, she had a beautiful dog with her and was bent down and hugging it, looking like she’d fallen. Being a cheeky dog owner, I went over and asked if she was okay. The lady was fine but crying. She’d been hugging the dog because this was their very last walk. The dog loved going for walks. I then paid attention to the dog, a shepherd mix, cataracts in both eyes, nearly deaf, very wobbly and elderly looking. This was their last walk. They were going to the vets later and the dog was going to be euthanized. We’ve all experienced this, it never is easy to deal with. Even if the owner is a total stranger. Beautiful story Dr. V. I hope your acquaintance gets a new companion soon.
What a sad story (tho I must say Im not a fan of the horse comment… no Dane owner is). As a Dane owner I can feel her pain as their lives are so short.
I remember when our Dane was a puppy we had to take her to the emergency vet and as we were there a lady came in and said she had lost a Dane…. what we didnt realize til after was that she had JUST lost her Dane and was there to pick up it’s ashes. HEARTBREAKING. I think the emergency vet is the worst place to be. So many sad situations.
ohhhh so sad but so sweet…..can’t decide if I’m happy or sad I read this post. Actually….glad I did. And I bet the lady’s heart went out to you when she didn’t see you walking your Emmet. I bet she was sad for you. There is an amazing connection between 2 people that share a “ritual” even though they never speak…..especially when that ritual involves your pet……