I was a dog person before I was a cat person. I guess due to proximity. As a child, I didn’t know many cats, but I did know my cousins’ dog Lori. Lori was only a year younger than me, and I remember being significantly shocked one Christmas when I was 3 or 4 years old when I realized Lori couldn’t communicate with me directly, with language, like humans could. I guess that gives some credence to those movies and TV shows where the pets can only communicate with babies or young children. But I digress. This story isn’t about Lori. It’s about John.
I first met John a few years back. My coworker invited my boyfriend and I back to her condo one night after we’d had some drinks. John was quick to greet us at the door and spent most of that evening with his head in my lap as I pet him. I learned that John is a sucker for pets. He loves being doted on by humans, but he’s not so much interested in other dogs.
I didn’t see John again after that until about a year or so later. Again, I went to my friend’s condo with her after some drinks. This time, though, she ended up falling asleep. I was about to politely excuse myself when I remembered her mentioning that John had to be taken out that night. I realized that I would have to be the one to do it.
I was fairly confident with this endeavor, though nervous still. I’d been walking another coworker’s dog for a while now, and John was significantly more easy going than Jose. I snapped on John’s harness as best I could, and together we made our way downstairs to the little courtyard behind her building. John was an angel, patient with my apprehension every step of the way.
We made a quick little loop around, spending just enough time down there for John to do his business. I was terrified that she would wake up and discover I’d kind of inadvertently dog-napped her precious John. Once he was finished, we went back upstairs. I gave him a few more pets, ensured that he had enough water for the night and then made my way back home.
Since then, John has flown across the country as my friend completed a master’s program at a university out east. He has his own extensive roster of personal friends, and an Instagram page dedicated to his antics. He’s a busy dog. A popular guy.
So I didn’t imagine, as I made my way down to meet John and my friend to spend an afternoon in the park a few weeks ago when they were back in town, that John would even remember who I was. It’d been another year and a half since our micro-walk. I’m used to the cool, unpredictable aloofness of my cat who some days celebrates my arrival home after a 30 minute walk, but other days seems unimpressed when I’ve been away on a five-day business trip. It’s fine.
That day, my feet were sweaty and blistered from a terrible choice in footwear. My allergies were at their peak, making my eyes teary and my nose runny. I was exhausted from work, not feeling my best. When I turned the corner and saw my friend and John on the park bench, John made eye contact with me and leapt across the sidewalk at full speed. He greeted me with such boundless delight. He jumped up at my legs and demanded all my attention. My heart just about exploded. He remembered me. And he was glad to see me. Me! He sat by me dutifully the whole time we were there. I was the happiest person in the park.
Now I need to get a dog.