The Old Dog
Nearly every morning I try to go for a walk along a beaten track that follows a creek bed quite close by here. At 6am it is beyond peaceful, it’s rejuvenating and inspiring as the sun rises over the horizon or when the fog gives the path a surrealistic outlook.
Mostly I get to the end and sit down to enjoy breakfast which I bring along and soak up the peace and solitude before heading back to the real world. I find I can think more clearly here and alone with my thoughts I often reflect on how lucky I really am and I find the urge to keep fighting for another day.
For the past few months I have been joined on the final part of the first half of my walk by a stray dog. At first he would sit some distance from me, warily watching my every move but more so every bite I took of my breakfast. His body language indicated caution, but his eyes were so sad and I instantly felt a connection, as silly as it might seem. Of course I shared my breakfast with him and with each day he would come closer and closer. I knew this dog must have been someone’s pet, he wasn’t scared of us, just wary.
If any other walkers happen to come by he would back off the path but he wouldn’t run away but take on a submissive but very watchful pose.
As each day passed he found more and more courage and would come closer and closer until one day he met at my favourite spot and as I sat down and opened my box, he came right up, warily of course, and sat at my feet. His eyes looked so sad, lonely. After we shared my breakfast he lay down at my feet and for the first time I was able to pat him.
As I gently stroked his back he whimpered ever so softly and I thought I had caused him some pain somehow but when I stopped, he would raise his nose and muzzle my hand or leg until I continued. I just knew this old dog was starved for attention. After a while he got up, licked my hand and with a look back wandered off down the track, to where, I have no idea but the next morning he was there again, waiting for me. We had become friends.
For nearly a year we met for breakfast, and each day we would sit quietly together before eventually parting ways.
One day, not so long ago, I turned up with my breakfast in hand and sat down but there was no sign of him. Of course there were days he wasn’t there but these were rare and for some reason I felt a sadness that I just couldn’t shake.
I have never seen the old dog again. I have walked up and down the track to no avail, he was gone.
The bond and friendship that I felt had grown between us had become to mean something special to me. I never tried to take him home, I just felt he was happy where he was, wherever that might have been. As each day passed with no sign of the old dog I felt a deep sadness, a sense of loss that one knows when they have lost a friend.
Each morning I still go there, each morning I still expect to see him waiting for me on the track and now, every morning I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee alone.
I came to realise that every morning up until then I found myself looking forward to our meeting and it had given me a little something to help each passing day. Today, as I prepared my usual breakfast, I still found myself making a little extra, just in case.