There are two ways of walking a dog. The tug at the leash, mom-I-want-to-run type of walk, and the meandering, I need to sniff everything in sight–twice–walk. Riley had a decided preference for the latter. A beagle mix, he lived by his nose.
But it wasn’t just the grass and the trees that had his attention. Riley was a people dog. He enjoyed humans far more than his furry friends. Human, dog or squirrel? It was no contest. The human won every time. Riley would stop deferentially and turn his head toward the person, attempting to make eye contact. His beautiful brown eyes would stay focused until the person noticed him. Usually that resulted in some kind words and a few minutes of petting. Occasionally people ignored him, but it didn’t change a thing. Stop. Look. Wait. Riley could do that all day long.
It was like Riley was personally responsible for greeting everyone. That meant you had to allow extra time on the Linwood Bike Path in nice weather, when people would be out and about. Because some things simply could not be rushed. He’d leave each person a little brighter for having stopped. I noticed more than one smile that hadn’t been there before.
But as it often happens, things change. The once agile young beagle is now a mature 13, and for all intents and purposes, blind and deaf. It happened gradually, but after awhile, I noticed that Riley wasn’t able to entice fellow walkers with a glance. He didn’t stop, pause and wait for them to notice him.
That didn’t matter. For Riley had trained them to come to him! They were so used to stopping to give him a pat and a kind word that they did it automatically. “Hi, Riley! How’s it going? How is the ambassador of the Linwood Bike Path today?”
Though his beautiful brown eyes are now clouded with cataracts, his nose works as well as ever! He greets them, and stands with tongue lolling, enjoying the pats and the attention for as long as they’ll give it.
Yes, walks take a little longer these days. Some people think it’s because of Riley’s age. But you and I know the real reason.