I was having a really, really nice run Sunday morning. The air was crisp, the sky that deep blue which the Crayola folks are no doubt still working on copyrighting. I was running faster than I had intended, which is always a good thing.
Then, as I rounded a corner on a block I haven’t run down in eons, I saw a familiar twosome. Actually, it used to be a threesome, which made me slow down. The man I used to see walking two collies was only walking one. On previous encounters — last one was months ago — he had told me that one of them, the older one, had hip and a variety of other problems. Sometimes I’d see the man walking just one, and he’d tell me that the other pooch was home sleeping.
But this morning, I just kind of knew. I looked both ways, crossed the street, and stopped to pet his collie and to talk.
“I haven’t seen you in ages!” I said. He told me I’m usually moving too fast (but seriously, I know I haven’t seen him!). I took a deep breath and said, “You usually have two, right?”
“Yes,” he said. “We had to put the other one down this summer.”
I said that stupid thing I’m now second-guessing: “I’m sure he had such a wonderful life.” I meant to add, “but it’s never long enough.” Before I could get that part out, the man stopped me.
“He had so many health issues,” he said. “He finally just let us know it was time.”
“Yes,” I said. “They do know.”
“She misses him,” he said, gesturing toward the female at my feet. “Maybe we’ll get another one after Christmas.”
“Meanwhile,” I said, “I bet she’s getting lots of hugs.”
He smiled and I stood up to leave.
“It was so good seeing you,” I told him.
“Thank you for stopping,” he said.
So for skies so achingly beautiful you think you just might start to cry; for the love of a dog; and for knowing when to stop, The Grateful Runner says thank you.