I went for a walk today, obviously sans dog. And something happened in my brain that I haven’t experienced in the decade I had walked with Claddagh. I became aware of what other people may think about me, as I walk along, alone.
When I had Claddagh, our walks were interactive. It was just her and me in the world. I have no thoughts to the perceptions of the individuals passing me in cars. They only existed as obstacles in crossing the road, completely depersonalized inside their automobiles.
Occasionally someone might hoot out at me, grabbing my attention but mostly I would choose routes of alleyways and side streets without much traffic.
It’s a pretty straight shot along a busy road to walk for a pack of smokes. Dog-less the short trip is mind-numbing. I feel the cars pass, and I become extra aware of the expression on my face, my posture, and gait. I’m in this thought and I avoid eye contact with drivers. I think about this solo jaunt and I’m sad and lonely. I am sure my face has that “melancholy far off look.”
Each and every normal thing that I do, for the first time, again- without my friend, I make note of.
“This is the first time I have put gas in my car without Claddagh.”
“This is the first time I am popping into Goodwill, real quick, without Claddagh.”
“This is the first time I am going through a Chick-fil-A drive through without Claddagh. No one told me how cute she is and if she would like a dog treat.”
“This is the first time I am walking around downtown without Claddagh, and no one strikes up a conversation about her.”
This new internal narration doesn’t make a good movie. I am having a new conversation by myself with the world around me, and I am the only one who knows the inside jokes.
I was barked at by a squirrel for a good five minutes today. Claddagh would have been amused.
When Claddagh and I would walk, I would try and see the world through her eyes and engage in that way. The only time I would suspend this reality, would be on “athletic” jaunts where I would want to keep a steady pace and an elevated heart rate; other than that we would be as lackadaisical or as excited as she wanted to be while trying to maintain a lead that wouldn’t choke her.
It was only in the last year or so, that she was beginning to walk on a leash like a well-paced partner, no pulling forward for the lead. I was really starting to appreciate that shift in her maturity, but now I just think it may have been a side effect of her heart tumor.
If you are ever deciding to get a dog, get one that is young at heart and really foster that personality trait. Much like people, they may age into later years and be mistaken for younger because of the youthful and playful nature they exude. That is precious energy to embody or be surrounded in.