I have three companions, Dusty T. Dog, Mindy T. Dog and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog. They are pretty large companions — so large that if I walk them together it’s very likely someone will say, “You got your hands full.” People will even — in my little town — change their turn from right to left just to be able to say that. It’s OK. People have been saying that to me as long as I lived with a pack of dogs. “You got your hands full, ha ha.” One difference between Monte Vista (town of 4000 in the San Luis Valley of Colorado) and anywhere in San Diego is that HERE no one laughs when they finish that sentence. They smile. I don’t know if it’s the general low-keyness of the area or if they perceive it differently. I think they see it for what it is. Not a catastrophe waiting to happen, but a little lady walking her three pretty-well-behaved dogs. The cops wave when they pass by as do most other people. It’s very sweet.
In a small town, everyone is visible, so when I went to a church luncheon (held at the church one of my friends attends) many people said, “Oh I know you! I see you all the time with your dogs. You sure have your hands full!”
We have small adventures, too. We’d have more but Dusty T. Dog is a barkaholic, still that hasn’t bothered many people here. Last week we took a walk and as we were about to turn into our alley to go home, I noticed a bright, blue golf-ball in the curb. Brand new. I live across from the golf-course, so that’s not all that surprising, but this golf ball was, I dunno, special? I picked it up and turned to look at the hole closest to the street. There was a family — two parents and two little kids — playing golf. Mom and little boy were in the golf cart; dad and a little girl were at the ninth hole.
I was just going to toss the ball onto the course when the mom and little boy rolled up to the hole. Dusty, Mindy, Bear and I crossed the street and went up to the cart. Dusty was, of course, barking. I said what I always say, grateful it’s the truth, “He’s the friendliest dog in the world. He just barks.” They couldn’t have cared less. Bear greeted them gently and Mindy blinked flirtatiously.
“I’ve seen you walking your dogs,” said the mom.
“Yeah, I think most people have. Looks like you’re having fun.”
“It is, but a little tiring with the kids.”
“Yeah. Are you playing the full nine?”
“Oh yeah.” She smiled.
“That would be tiring.” It was a sweet moment, but I was still wishing they’d get off my golf course so I could walk my dogs there and, of course, I was also wishing for snow. I laughed at myself. “I just found this,” I opened my hand to reveal the electric blue golf ball. The little boy’s eyes lit up. I don’t know if it was his, or he just thought it was pretty. “Here.” He put out his hand.
“What do you say?” said the mom, predictably.
“Thank you,” said the boy, shyly, then he grinned the grin of all second graders on their way to third in the fall. By then Dusty was no longer barking, Bear had kissed him and Mindy was lying down.
We turned toward home. I thought to myself that walking dogs on Monte Vista’s sunny summer streets is not the kind of adventure that shakes the world, but it might be the kind that keeps it going, and just doing that keeps our hands full.