There hasn't been a dog in my life since I was 17, and for the next two weeks I'm the Handler-In-Chief of a golden retriever (whose owner is vacationing in Hawaii [envious!]). As it's been even longer since there's been a horse in my life on a regular basis, I'm amazed at how much walking with this very spirited animal resembles riding a very spirited and easily-spooked equine.
I'm making motions with the leash much like I'd do with reins, except there's no broad back to straddle, no muscled shoulder to lean into. No sonorous nickering. Harumph. If only I had a horse to ride to work in this very urban neighborhood!
Nevertheless, this doggy business isn't too bad, all things considered. And although I'm more of a cat person, the constant companionship of this canine is rather sweet. Don't know when I've enjoyed so much devotion.
The cats at home are not pleased.
The cats at work, on the other hand, have resigned themselves to the daily presence of this large and loud creature, and today emerged from their hiding places amongst the packing materials to (tentatively!) meet Bella. No drama, just some nose-touching and guarded gazing.
I rode a full-blooded Arabian horse for two years in my early teen years, after she magically appeared one summer morning grazing on my neighbor's front lawn. Once the hullabaloo of discovering a loose horse outside my bedroom window subsided, her owner — a retired jockey — pulled up in his car. It seemed that "Happy Springtime" had a habit of letting herself out of her pasture, and she'd wander the semi-rural roads of Renton. Mr. Van Slyke, the jockey, needed someone to exercise her, and wondered if my friend and I would be interested?
Thus began my seasons of heaven.
Funny that walking home from work, in the dark, with a dog, should pull this memory to the surface, but there you have it. But memories are like that, aren't they ? One and then another ricocheting off each other, often seemingly without connection. But that faint thread that stitches them together can nearly always be found, if we take the time to notice.
And I had the time to notice, because I was walking. With a dog.