In the Company of Animals

Yesterday, when I set out on a morning walk, there was a dog. She seemed lost, wandering in and out of cars in the parking lot. I asked around if she belonged to anyone.

“Her owner is in the woods,” someone said but I could not see him—nor could the dog who craned her neck left and right in search.

I say “she” because she was indeed a she. “Daisy” to be more accurate—her collar told me so.

“Come on, Daisy,” I called to get her away from cars and she came.

“Where’s your person?” I asked, and we both looked around for a while, but no one appeared.

Thinking it better she be with someone instead of no one, I invited her to come with me. “Come on, Daisy, come here girl” and she followed one might say obediently, but I would disagree—I think she just wanted to go for a walk.

And that’s what we did. I chatted away about the weather—it’s always a good place to start—while Daisy gave one last look for her person and fell into step.

We walked up the first steep hill and down, around the bend to the clearing by the utility lines, into the forest where the woodpecker plays and up across the trail. Daisy easily translated my come-here cat noise as a dog request, and never strayed too far out of sight.

She didn’t seem bothered by my idle chatter—to be quiet somehow seemed rude with such an enthusiastic companion. “What do you see?” I asked “Am I walking too slow for you?”

“I’m sure we’ll find your person soon,” I reassured her as we made our way across the footbridge, but I really wasn’t sure. I thought for a moment that it might have been wise to consider the implication of my original invitation, but Daisy seemed content to just trot along, being all in-the-moment about our walk together. So we continued around the back bend, through the pine forest and onward.

I lost Daisy at the creek when I stopped to take some photos of water rushing over rocks, but we met up again 10 minutes later. She was playing with some dogs at the fork where the red trail goes one way and the yellow goes another.

“I’m sorry,” I apologized to the owners, “She’s not my dog.”

“Oh, that’s Mark’s dog.”

And then I remembered. I’d met Mark and Daisy along the trail before. He was as regular in these woods as me, I don’t know why I didn’t think of him before.

“He’s at the front gate,” they told me after a quick call to his cell phone.

“Come on, Daisy, we found your person. Let’s go!”

I said goodbye to her right back where we started, and got into my car feeling like I’d spent the hour with a good friend. It’s like that when you’re in the company of animals.

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“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ― Anatole France

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12 thoughts on “In the Company of Animals

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  1. Hi Jen, This is a very nice story. But, I have another side to the story. (I love that you accompanied this dog until finding his owner, so don’t get me wrong). I strongly believe that all dog owners must have their pets on leashes in all public areas. I have friends who do not go to (certain hiking areas) ever because of dogs off their leashes. They don’t like off-leash dogs running up to them, their children, or their own leashed dogs. A strange dog running up to you and your young kids can be a scary thing. A dog owner yelling at you “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” as the dogs paws are on your shoulders and your kids are hiding behind your legs isn’t a comfortable walk on our town’s trails. I am on the Open Space Authority and can’t convince my co-commissioners that off-leash dogs create an environment that EXCLUDES many of their neighbors from enjoying open space, which we all support with our tax dollars. A dog lover, Connie


  2. lovely post – i’m sure daisy was comforted by your idle chatter! as for the situation, i know it’s nice for dog owners to feel like their dog is an extension of themselves, and so not a threat to others, but it’s the others out for a walk who sometimes aren’t sure how to handle a strange (to them) dog out on the wooded trail, so the leash issue is a valid one – the town should go ahead and fence in at least one of the informal “dog parks” where dog owners can supervise as they watch their dogs socialize and run free on the grass without all the dangers! and thanks for the kind words about Hoppy – i imagine he’s running free, too, across the clouds…

    1. I do love how happy the dogs seem to be running free in the woods. But I’ve had way too many incidents of “oh, he’s not good with people” experiences on the trails…so you gotta wonder, right? No common sense.


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