Nearly every day, Jack and I walk up the street to the high school around 11:30 in the morning. It’s when the kids get out for lunch and Jack likes to greet as many of them as possible. He’s well-known among the crowd, and as we approach, people will begin to call out his name. Jack wades in amongst them and works the crowd like a pro. He looks up and tries to make eye contact with everyone, moving slowly through the tangle of legs, stopping for an ear mushie here and a bum scratch there. He loves it when someone bends their face to his and always rewards them with a drooling, sloppy kiss. But this week, no matter how slowly Jack walks past the school, or how longingly he gazes, the kids don’t appear.
This morning, instead of another painfully slow walk past the school, I took Jack to the park, figuring that the antics of the ducks and geese would catch his interest for a while. I was wrong. Jack wasn’t the least bit interested in the politics of the pond today. No, he wanted to go to the playground where there were a few children on the swings and climbing equipment. We walked around the edges of the area, and no one wandered over to say hello. I explained to Jack that it’s because of coronavirus, but Jack’s feelings were hurt. Before we left, he took a seat by the bicycle stand, and I could see that he was reluctant to leave. He gave his best smile to the crowd and one little girl pointed at him and asked her mother if she could pet the doggy. Her mom said yes, and hand in hand, they walked over. We kept our social distance, but Jack slowly padded over to the child and stuck his big nose in her small hand and she laughed. Jack lit up like Christmas and nosed her again, and the two of them spent an enjoyable few minutes just being a kid and a dog having fun. It was a delightful bit of normal in these very abnormal times. Thanks, Bubba.