The dogs are always, always joyful when they see us get the leashes. Without a doubt it's the very best part of their day. They dance around, George jumps straight up in the air four or five times, Ginger grins (yes, dogs smile, and we're convinced Ginger even has a sense of humor. Call me crazy if you like) and there's a few minutes of general merriment between us all before we hook up the harnesses and leashes. Ginger, in deference to her age and position in our family, always gets to exit the garage first.
Then we're off. Gregg and I have our time to talk, and meanwhile the dogs trot along, side by side, occasionally veering off together to sniff something interesting or pee. We don't mind the occasional interruption, especially at certain beloved spots, because we figure the walk is as much theirs as ours. It's our family time at the end of the day.
There's a gray and white cat that waits for us once in a while in the church parking lot down the road. She's a sweet, slightly built little cat that we've been friends with for years now. Before we got George, she would meow and trot up to us, sniff noses with Ginger, rub against us all for petting, and then walk with us for a block or so. Then came George, the problem child, who would bark and growl at cats and other small animals and get way too excited for my peace of mind. These days I've very nearly broken him of it with the help of the wise little cat. She keeps a prudent distance from George, but displays no fear of him and still joins us sometimes for a portion of the walk. It's been so good for him. And it's always a special treat when she shows up.
Sometimes we get to see something special while walking. Last night was one example. While walking northward and facing an area of clear, dark sky, we saw the most beautiful shooting star. It was a pale bluish-green, large, and slow, and seemed to be falling straight down like a tendril of flame from a firework. How lucky! I immediately made a silent (and heartfelt) wish. Gregg told me afterwards that he did, too. I'm so glad we were both looking up at the right time! I hope both our wishes come true.
There are two neighbor men we pass on our nightly walk sometimes that we've never seen in the daylight. Nor do we know what house they live in. They're both...50ish?...60ish?...somewhere in there, and I think they must be a couple. They walk at night regularly, just like us. If it's a quiet night we might hear the murmering sound of their voices before we actually see them. The dogs barely look up. We all pass each other with a few quiet words of greeting, "How are you" or "Hello"...or, rarely, a "Have a good evening". We walk at different times (sometimes quite late) and so do they, so our paths only cross once or twice a week.
We have this thing we do with Ginger when we arrive back at home. I keep the remote to our garage doors in my pocket when we walk (we mainly enter and exit the house through the garage). When we get close to our house Gregg unhooks her leash and we let her trot ahead of the rest of us, towards the garage door. When she's almost there, I push the button on the remote in my pocket, and the door starts to lift. Oh, how we hope Ginger thinks she's doing it with the power of her mind! She never breaks stride as the door goes up, she prances up to and right through like a queen. We always say "Thanks, Ginger!" as we follow her through. Once we're inside, she turns around and grins at us. And then both dogs wait for their chicken jerky treats to cap off the walk.