December 06, 2006

The Spencer Redemption Part II

Warning: this post is sentimental, so take out your Kleenex now. Having Spencer the retriever around is a life-changing experience.Although he isn't my dog, I help care for him, and spend time with him almost every day. Today was especially wonderful. He must have put his dog vibes out.

First there was the woman with the dog outside the coffee shop this morning. I struck up a conversation with her because I'm now a "dog person" and am interested in others with their dogs. It turns out that she had just adopted her dog, Dixie, from the same organization from which Spencer was adopted. The woman and Dixie were getting along great, doing lots of training, and the dog even stayed on the ground when the woman went inside. I showed the woman on a map where the best dog park was, the one where I take Spencer, and she was very thankful.

As I was walking Spencer this afternoon, feeling a bit sorry for myself because some things that I wanted to happen out here in California have not happened yet (a bit unrealistic, considering that I have been here all of three weeks), everyone around us starting responding to him. First it was a pointing toddler being carried by her mother. Then, at a nearby seaside park, we passed an old Black woman sitting on a bench with a walker. She smiled a knowing, closed-lipped, not too wide smile, the kind that you might expect to be accompanied with a "mmm mmm, child ..." When we circled around and returned a few minutes later, we stopped by to say hello to the woman. Spencer came over to be petted by her dry, puffy hand. The woman's face lit up, and she went on about how good Spencer was, and how much she likes Golden Retrievers. She was with a slightly younger man, possibly her son, who was talking on a cell phone, and he had to tell the party on the other end how much he liked Spencer too.

Then, a couple of minutes later, we passed by a young blonde-haired woman sitting in the shade against a tree, her back to the ocean. She looked very distraught, with a small backpack, a box of crackers and a jar of peanut butter on the ground next to her. We wandered nearby, and saw that she was crying. She smiled a bit and said what a pretty dog I had. She said that her dog, which she had inherited from a former landlord, had just passed away, and that she was still grieving. She pulled a picture out of her wallet, and I saw a very cute Beagle mix with bright eyes. I thought about Spencer, who is only about two and a half, as an old, grizzled dog, and told the woman that the only thing unfair about having a dog is that it doesn't live very long. I told her that, even so, I hope that she found her dog worth having. She said of course. Spencer did his best to make her feel better, rolling around in front of her and offering his tummy to rub. The woman also told me that she was experiencing further hard times, having been kicked out of her home, and being in graduate school with huge loans. I wished her well, and, as Spencer and I left, she thanked me for spending five minutes with her. In truth, she was the gift-giver, not me.

As we were walking home, a station wagon with a couple of small kids in the back passed by, and the kids started squealing and pointing at Spencer. He still had his doggie mojo going.

I suspect that, much of the time, we walk around somewhat oblivious to the things and the people around us. We are all simply starring in our own movies. I rarely approach strangers in parks and strike up conversations. But thanks to Spencer the retriever, who was rescued from a shelter two days before he was to be put to death, I made several connections today. We may even have helped to brighten the day of some folks whose movies might not be as feel-good, with endings possibly not as happy, as ours. Spencer helped me to realize how fortunate I am, and how much I have for which to be grateful.


At 12:46 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

A dog on a leash is a good opener with just about anyone. Works every bit as well as an adorable baby. I'm particularly partial to dogs (over cats) and swear they are better friends than most people. It's just sad that they wear out sooner than most of us do. Enjoy every minute with Spencer! I too think he's a great-looking dog.

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Janet M. Kincaid said...

There's nothing better than a good dog and his/her love. Well, maybe chocolate, but in the end even it doesn't love you as unconditionally as a dog and will just make you fat. It sounds like you have a special one in Spencer. What a gift!

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I guess if Spencer was a chocolate lab, that would really be the best of both worlds!


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