“Wow, he’s beautiful.”
I’ve stopped along a downtown street in Galveston. I extend my hand down to a gray and black dog.
“Go ahead, he won’t bite,” says the man on the other end of the leash.
The dog’s dark eyes look up at me, his nose knowingly nuzzling my hand to his square forehead. My fingers scratch the back of his ears and are welcome. I have a new friend.
“Catahoula or Louisiana leopard dog?”
The man’s head shakes in non-commitment.
“Don’t really know,” he says. “Picked him up from the shelter two days ago.”
Our son adopted a Catahoula a few weeks back. Before then, I couldn’t have identified one beyond a gray dog with interesting spots. I’ve been reading up as of late.
“Can I check out his paws?”
Webbed feet are one of the tells of the breed.
The man nods and I drop to one knee. Slowly I move my other hand toward my new friend’s feet. Before I can get there, a large paw meets me halfway.
“He’s a sweetheart,” the man says. “Loves to be around people. Even has an odd bit of separation anxiety.”
The webbing between the toes adds into my suspicions. The man’s description of the dog’s quirky personality, however, seals the deal.
“I was working construction around here and one day someone just dropped him off. He was wandering the neighborhood until animal control came. After a few days, I went and checked in on him and ended up adopting him.
My new friend leans towards me, another tell of the breed. I run my hand down the long, unusual coat. Short grey and black hairs easily slide by my fingertips as if wet to the touch. A remarkable dog, for sure.
I can’t understand why someone would abandon a dog that obviously wants to unconditionally love someone back.
The man looks down. His new friend sits down near his feet. The bond between man and dog is in place. I am happy for both.
I hope the afterlife carves out a special place for people who adopt animals in need. As much as we’d like to think we have this big life under control — our phones can take stunning photos, electricity moves across the country to heat and cool our homes on demand, and we can travel through the sky in a metal tube — we still have too many animals making one-way trips to local shelters.
History proves mankind, in great part, owes his existence and survival to the remarkable bond between himself and dogs. In a unique relationship unlike with any other animal, man and dog share a codependency technology will never replace. Survival, food and companionship are as mutually entrenched in our DNA as the hairs on our heads or coats.
I notice I’ve met the man and dog at the footsteps off the building where I attended a church service two hours before. And suddenly I believe our meeting was no coincidence.