I was walking my dog the other day, a 10 year old cocker spaniel who seems to get more energetic and charming with old age. As I strolled along my usual route at the local park I saw a man in his late 40’s up ahead walking a very excitable German Shepherd. I’m a bit of a thinker when I’m walking, either a song in my head or wondering what to have for dinner that night. This guy however marched ahead of his dog like it was an ex-wife after the rest of his money. As he got closer we first looked at each other’s dog and only then did we make eye contact and give a casual “hello.” We both continued in opposite directions and back to leading our separate lives but for that split second when we made eye contact we were like brothers. I’m exaggerating of course but that simple exchange of pleasantries really made me laugh. That look we gave each other’s dog at the start that was our confirmation, confirmation that we are both dog owners, loud and proud.
Dog owners it seems have this unspoken bond, our dogs give us a reason to converse, even if the other person is your very worst nightmare of a human being, in that moment, on that twenty minute walk, we are all equal. It’s a funny but wonderfully simple concept but I must remember to tone down my new found enthusiasm for fellow dog owners, yesterday i was saying hello to just about everyone who passed by. At one point I was forgetting to check if they were even with dogs (that’s the unspoken rule you see), my neighbours must be thinking that guy is far too happy about walking his dog.
It got me thinking as well, can you imagine if everyone driving a car started waving at each other and saying hello because they are all fellow drivers and are bonded by car ownership? Is one man’s Honda Civic another man’s cocker spaniel? Whatever the reason for saying hello I think it’s a beautiful thing sparked by a love of our wonderful canine friends. And remember if you do see a young bearded man walking an old chocolate coloured cocker spaniel just say hello, neither of us bite.