Last week people on my team at work flew in from around the country. While everyone was here we decided to take a little time out from work and get outside to see some of the beautiful outdoor sights around Portland. We chose Multnomah Falls as our destination. The Falls are about a half hour drive outside of Portland. In exchange for being one of the drivers to get our team out there, I was told A.J. could come along.
When the weather cooperates, on Saturday mornings we go for a long walk, stop for coffee and donuts, then let A.J. run loose in the park. It’s always an enjoyable way to start the weekend.
In the two years we’ve lived here and been engaging in this Saturday ritual, we’ve come to know some of the other dogs and their owners who regularly visit the park. Today a woman we see and speak to often arrived while we were there. As usual, A.J. was running around frantically searching for squirrels. This woman spotted us and came over to visit.
She’s an older woman who needs the aid of a walker to make her way around the park, but she brings her adorable little dog there regularly. While I sat and gave her dog a scratch under the chin, she proceeded to tell us about the start of her weekend. And it wasn’t going well.
She had managed to bump into another car while backing out of her driveway. Her grandson, who she is very proud of and says is very smart, had failed the test to get his driver’s license. She’d been having political disagreements with her family. The minor incident with the car had happened that very morning as she was leaving to come to the dog park.
As she was telling us all of this, she looked over at A.J., still as busy as ever with his squirrel hunt. She said “I’m so glad A.J. is here. It makes me happy to watch him running around. He’s so focused and determined!”
I once lived next door to a man who had a dog that got physically ill when someone would rearrange the furniture. Dogs like routine.
Fortunately, I have what must be one of the most adaptable dogs on the planet. A.J. has been through a lot so far this year, and he’s been absolutely fabulous through it all.
A few years ago the city of Boise experimented at one of the local parks. They opened the soccer fields in the park to off-leash dogs from late fall until early spring. Did they do this in consideration of all the dog owners out there who like to see their dogs run free? I suppose that could have been one reason. But the true driving force in this decision was geese.
Air travel usually isn’t a lot of fun. Even on the smoothest flights with on-time arrivals, sitting in a cramped airplane for hours on end with no food is tiring and tedious. (I’ve never tried it, but I’m guessing that as nice as first class is – where you’re not cramped and you get fed – travelers would still rather not be spending hours on an airplane. But I could be wrong about that.) But if you’ve spent much time at an airport and looked around at all, you can usually see that an uncomfortable day of cramped seats, security lines, crying babies, and whining adults has taken its toll on most people. There aren’t a lot of people smiling.
Until they see A.J.
Greg went out of town for business and A.J. and I went to the airport last night to pick him up. We arrived early, so I sat down in a seating area near the bottom of the escalators that lead to the baggage claim area. A.J. stood and looked around for a while, then laid down at my feet. As I watched people ride down the escalator, I was amazed at the number of people who looked around, spotted A.J. – and smiled.