Dogs can indeed tell time. My two dogs, Max & Maggie follow me around early every morning at the same precise time. It’s to remind me that it’s time for their morning walk. Sometimes they stand in front of the drawer that contains their leashes. They look at me with their expressive eyes as if to say, “We’re ready, what are you waiting for?” Just the mention of the word “walk” has them bouncing with delight. Our daily walks get me out of the house and I get badly needed exercise. Walks mean much more to the dogs.
I belong to a very loosely organized neighborhood group of morning dog walkers. It consists of a half-dozen participants on most days–sometimes more. We’ve discussed having T-shirts made emblazoned with the words: Retired Old Farts Neighborhood Dog Walkers Club–ROFNDWC for short. We couldn’t leave out non-retired younger neighborhood walkers. …Friendly non dog owners. An umbrella organization was formed, Neighborhood Non-Dog Owner Walkers & Geezer Gazers–NNDOWGG. The looseness of both clubs made it hard to get anything done–the t-shirt suggestion was put on the back burner. Retired folks are a fiercely independent lot.
We’re an eclectic bunch from different backgrounds. …Blue collar and white-collar. One of us was in the automobile business, there’s an aeronautics worker, a former airline pilot, two, (including myself), are former communication workers, and I almost forgot–a former teacher. There is probably a couple of hundred years experience among us. Discussion topics run the gamut. Politics are usually avoided due to polarization of participants. Both major political parties are represented. None of our discussions have escalated to violence–so far. Some of the discussions have been spirited. We’re retired, set in our ways. No minds are going to be changed. This week a topic of discussion surprised me. One of the guys mentioned Eric Hoffer, the legendary “Longshoreman Philospher.” I sprang into action. That was an opportunity to put my liberal arts degree to use. I hadn’t heard that name since college philosophy class. Some days my walk takes longer because the discussions are more interesting. Several participants could write best-selling books based on their life experiences.
There’s a practical side to our daily discussions. I’ve learned about new places to go–restaurants, entertainment venues, car shows, vacation destinations. Where’s the best places to get things done? It’s been covered. Everybody knows a go-to person for just about everything. Health issues are discussed frequently, including how to stay healthy. Where were the best doctors and hospitals? It’s not my favorite subject, but I’m reminded of my own mortality. Some of my fellow dog walking friends have health issues. It’s part of the aging process. We’re there to encourage them in their struggles. We also celebrate their victories. Bad customer service experiences are shared. Little known facts and trivia are brought up. I found out that some schools in the South taught a different version of the Civil War. When Mother Nature sent an unexpected rainstorm, we stuck it out together. It’s a misery loves company thing.
Our reason for existence is love for our dogs. The dogs, even though they can’t talk, enjoy our club. They seek out the treat givers. Some dogs, like their owners, are grouchy in the morning. All the dogs look forward to canine camaraderie with their friends. My dogs express their opinions of new dogs quickly. I’m amazed, that to them, senses of smell, taste, and hearing are more important than visual cues. Every scent marking carries a meaning. Rabbits, squirrels, and cats require an immediate investigation. They know that if they chew on something long enough it will break. My advice for humans and dogs–be optimistic and on your best behavior–there could be a treat around the corner!
–The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue–