Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Series of Fortunate Accidents

Except for that I was riding my bike when the following event happened, this post is a complete diversion from my usual subject matter.

Mary and Raven on the night I bumped into her on the Towpath

I was coming back from a late afternoon ride, an easy spin through the early golds and reds of fall. One of those days when you lose yourself in the moment. Lots of traffic on the trail tonight, but for some reason it didn't bother me. Up ahead, I saw a woman walking a black dog, and as I got closer, I recognized the dog as a Belgian Sheepdog. Not a super-common breed around here, but since I have two of my own, I had to stop to chat.

We made small talk. She introduced me to Raven, who had a grizzly white muzzle,  just like my old dog. In a flash, she and I were kindred spirits, this woman and I, and her dog. She told me that just last night, she had to put down her other dog, an old male who was suffering some health issues. Raven, the dog left behind, was missing her companion.
And that is when I looked into the woman's eyes, and I recognized her immediately.

Some back story first.

This is how I met Mary: Some 15 years ago, my husband and I lived in a condo with ready access to the Hike and Bike trail. I walked my two 'boys' on that trail every day, without fail. At that time, my dogs were young - Tahoe was an 'adolescent', and Durango was still a lanky, floppy puppy.

It was on one of these daily walks that I was mildly alarmed by a sudden eruption from one of the houses whose backyards opened on to the trail. This crazy woman was running at us, waving her arms and yelling something I couldn't quite make out.  Mary, if memory serves, was very pregnant, possibly in a nightgown, and absolutely effusive over my dogs. She told me that she saw us walking every day, and the boys caught her attention and now she had a million questions: what breed were they, were they nice dogs, could we talk, etc. This is how we became acquainted, Mary and I, and we stayed more or less in touch even after we both moved out of that neighborhood. We wanted more space for ourselves and our dogs, Mary needed room for her growing family. And, as it turned out, for her own BSDs. We visited Mary years later, when her son was maybe 5 years old and she had just brought her second BSD into her life. (For some reason, BSDs often come in pairs).

Years went by and we lost touch, but every once in a while her name would pop up in unexpected places. A funeral guest list, for example. A twisting and complex connection with a relative. Weird stuff, and maybe it was a premonitory sign. But we never re-united.

Tough to resist that face, no?

Side story: Aleron Dogs
For some ungodly reason, my husband had/has been following a Belgian Sheepdog breeder on Facebook. Aleron Dogs, out of Youngstown, Ohio, has been chronicling the lives of their recent litter of puppies. We watched them go from blind little piglets to fuzzy black puffballs to their latest state of how can anything be so-freaking-cute. We watched them grow into their own personalities. I won't lie: the thought of bringing a third dog into my home crossed my mind. It was a brief moment of insanity, and I'm glad the moment is gone. But that didn't stop me from keeping an eye on which of these puppies found homes, and which were still available. *

The Confluence of Chance:
Why was Mary walking on the towpath at the exact same time I was riding it? Why was it that I bumped into her not one day after she had to put her older dog down?  How was it that I was closely following Aleron and knew that at that moment they were actively seeking homes for their puppies?

I have to tell you, I don't believe in miracles, or any sort of cosmic 'plan', for that matter. I absolutely don't believe in a supreme intelligence that guides any direction or creates serendipity. But I like to think that there's something to this story, some vibe that traveled between points of energy and maybe, on a completely unconscious level,  recognized in each other the ability to put a few small pieces together to create something.

Something bigger than the sum of those pieces.
Tuscan, the newest member of Mary's family

(Suggested soundtrack for Mary and Tuscan, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLTFbtOfmxk)

*Belgian Sheepdog disclaimer: This is NOT a dog you want to own. They are TROUBLE. They are quirky, energetic beyond belief, too smart for their own good (and their owners, mostly), and they are non-stop interaction. This is not a dog you want if you want a dog that is laid-back and easygoing. Like any sheepdog, BSDs need something to do ALL THE TIME. And they are not satisfied doing things by themselves, or even with other dogs in their family. They are amazingly needy and, let's be honest, a total pain in the ass.

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