Stray Dogs and Life Lessons
I believe that most of life’s lessons can be learned from a stray dog.
About three years ago, while driving to work or going into town I would see a large, hairy, black dog. At first I only saw him on Sunday mornings as I made my way downtown. He always appeared in the same grassy triangle between two major roads on the outskirts of town, in an area of mixed small industry and public housing. He looked to be a healthy weight and his coat was in good shape. Given the consistency of the weekend appearance and location, along with a lack of that ‘street’ look so apparent in strays, I assumed he belonged to someone. Over the next year though, it became clear that he was a stray.
Long periods of time will pass in which I don’t see him, followed by stretches of time where I see him several times a week, both morning and late afternoon. Sometimes he is lying in the morning sun, face tilted toward the warmth. Sometimes he is sound asleep in the grassy wallow, oblivious to the sounds of traffic. In the last year, he’s become more ragged in appearance, but his weight appears stable.
One morning, as I drove past, there was a late model gray BMW parked just off the road and a man walking toward the dog’s usual spot. Though there was no dog there, I realized the man was filling several bowls with food and water. I’d never noticed the bowls before, protected against a concrete pad. I’m not sure if they’ve always been there, but now they are a constant part of the dog’s environment.
Each morning I see the bowls, but it has been some time since seeing the dog. Just this week, however, his appearance has been regular….and now he has a friend. The new companion is about the same size, but more typical of the strays seen here: brown, short hair, mixed breed. This new dog is thin in the ribs and carries himself in that manner that says “street wise”. He seems happy to let the black dog lead the way along a path near the grassy triangle. I’m sure he’s happy to find a friend with a regular food source. The black dog trots just a ways ahead of his new pal, seemingly just as happy to share.
As for life lessons: no matter one’s station in life, there’s time to sit enjoying the warmth of the sun; there’s always something interesting to look at, even if it’s just the moving traffic; despite being ill-treated by some people, there are always others out there with kind hearts and a willingness to demonstrate that kindness; and just when one thinks that life is to be lived in solitude, along comes someone with whom to share. Lastly, one may be totally unaware that all around are strangers who keep an eye out for the well being of another living creature, such as strangers in cars making their way to work.
Stray dogs can be great reminders of the important things in life. This I believe.