Fall is finally coming here in the annals of the devil, which means it is bearable to go outside. This is great for me, as I have a big 50 pound dog that I have to walk twice a day to burn off energy, lest she run around my house tearing up shit, Marley and Me style.
Cute puppy pic for posterity...
To that end, our daily walks have become far more enjoyable now that dog and owner are not melting under the sun's glare. Just this past Sunday, I took her out first thing in the morning, since she was doing her little pee circle dance around my legs at the front door.
Outside, I notice there's a guy walking with his toddler daughter, right around the time the dog notices them. Honey, being the unabashed attention whore that she is, immediately drops her ears and starts wagging her tail, pulling me hard in their direction. I make a concerted effort to keep her on the opposite side of the street since she is NO LESS THAN three times the size of what I am realizing slowly must be the world's cutest kid.
After the dog does her business and I scoop, I see that he has let go of the little girl’s hand and she is making a beeline for Honey. He says hello while trying to catch up, and I have the dog heel while she cautiously makes her way over.
(It should be noted here, that my complex is really dog friendly. And my neighbors are really people friendly. There is a huge black Lab and a Corgi that live downstairs. There’s another black Lab mix downstairs that just moved in, an insanely friendly Pit bull named Bella, who I sometimes have to convince myself not to confiscate. And a tiny little Chihuahua down the way who thinks he is a Mastiff. I have met most of these dogs, and their owners, who have made Honey and I feel quite welcome (and dished some neighborhood tea but that’s another post).
Honey has a bit of a jumping problem, especially around children because she adores them and gets too excited, so I hold her collar firmly and give her the command to sit. She does. By this time, the man and what I assume is his daughter have approached, and despite my own misgivings about having renters in my uterine apartment, I am overwhelmed by how cute she is. She has big brown eyes framed by a lush line of dense lashes, a tiny smiling mouth and cheeks so cute I am pretty sure this man mated with a cherub to make her. As they draw closer to Honey, she squeals with delight in that baby way, but pulls her big sunflower hat down further over her head because I don’t think she quite realized just how big Honey is from a distance.
“Can we pet her?” he asks me with more than a little hesitation.
“Of course you can. She doesn’t bite and she likes children so your daughter is more than welcome to pet her too.”
He reaches down with more than a bit of trepidation, and Honey, in her fashion, reaches her head back to lick his palm which, in short, scares the shit out of him. The dog is on her best behavior and we try unsuccessfully to get the little girl to pet him. While she doesn’t want to move away, she certainly ain’t fooling with this big ass dog either.
We make small talk, introducing ourselves and him thanking me profusely for allowing them to pet the dog. I brush off his thanks with a simple you’re welcome, and continue chatting with him for a few moments before he excuses himself to continue his Sunday morning walk with his daughter. Barely even a foot away from us, where I am still steadfastly holding Honey, lest she get loose and jump on his back, he turns back.
“Thank you for being so kind to us. We don’t-“ he voice fissures noticeably, “get that a lot.”
He smiles, his big hand engulfing his daughter’s tiny one, and walks back towards their apartment.
At this point it dawns on me that while he spoke perfect English, the man had an accent which, judging from it and his appearance is probably Middle Eastern.
And that made me so sad.
Is this who we have become? Is this the identity of our country? We can commune across races, ages, and genders in my little neighborhood over our dogs, but can’t offer a simple kindness to someone who might be from a part of the world we are told we should blindly hate?
If that is who we are, there are scarcely any words for my sadness.
He was just a father, wanting his baby girl to pet a puppy. What does where he might be from have to do with that?