Tanner and Dakota are waiting for me.
They’re standing at the corner of their chain-link fence, watching the sidewalk. They know I’m coming, even if they don’t know exactly when, even if they can’t see the sidewalk very well and can’t hear at all.
Tanner and Dakota are my two oldest dog customers, dogs I give treats to nearly every day. My husband, Peter, has decided against paying the big bucks for high-priced dog treats full of questionable ingredients. He bought himself a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter, did some research on the internet, and now he bakes healthy dog treats for me to take on my daily hike. As you might imagine, as the Treat Lady, I have a lot of loyal customers.
Some of the dogs have even tracked me to my home. Matilda, a pudgy corgi, knows where I live and pauses every time she walks by with her owners, licking her lips. One day, Snoopy, the giant Bernese mountain dog I meet on the trail, was walking by the house. Snoopy is now almost a year and a half old and weighs more than 170 pounds.
I told Peter, “That’s Snoopy!” and (probably unadvisedly) called out the front door, “Hey, Snoopy!” Snoopy stopped in his tracks and stared.
Darron and Monica, Snoopy’s owners, came and chatted on the stoop, and I thought no more about it. Snoopy, however, has a very good memory.
A few days later, we saw Darron and Monica and Snoopy passing (probably intentionally) on the other side of the street. Not wanting to be pests, we didn’t holler out the door. But we were watching Snoopy staring at our house and walking more slowly. Finally, he came to a dead stop on the sidewalk, still staring at our front door. We could see Darron tugging on his leash, and that’s when Snoopy decided to lie down. Snoopy went on strike.
There isn’t much you can do when a 170-pound dog has decided he is going to lie down on the sidewalk. We saw Darron and Monica’s growing frustration, and that’s when Peter yelled from the door, “Hey, Snoopy!”
Snoopy leapt to his feet and bolted straight to our door, dragging Darron down the steep hill in front of our house. Snoopy landed in a happy, panting pile on the stoop.
“You see?” he seemed to be saying to Monica and Darron. “We had to visit!” Snoopy is a very sweet dog.
All the dogs are sweet. Fergus, a cattle dog of some type, leaps into the air whenever he sees me on the trail and gives me a kiss on the face. His owner no longer says, “Stop, Fergus!” because there is no stopping Fergus from kissing me. Fergus loves the Treat Lady. And I really don’t mind at all.
As we prepare to leave this place, I think of all the dogs I am going to miss and I wonder if they will miss me. But I know there are dogs in every state, in every country, and every dog needs a treat. I don’t think I’ll stop being the Treat Lady, living somewhere else.
Tanner and Dakota are still waiting at the fence. I give them each a treat, and Tanner barks in excitement. His bark is loud and strange because he is deaf, but I can tell he is happy -- even if he can’t see me, even if he’s not entirely sure where this treat is coming from.
“You’re such a good dog,” I tell him, scratching his gray muzzle. “You deserve a treat.”
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.
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