I am walking the dog and I see a familiar figure approaching me with his dog. My dog stops to sniff something and I turn to see what he is doing. I am aware of a certain nervousness with regards to my fellow dog-walker. He is going to be looking after my dog for a few days whilst I set off for my Transplant Games adventures. I seem to be embarrassed by this meeting, anxious that I have asked this man to help me and I don’t know why. Am I afraid to give my dog to him for a few days? I am afraid as to how my dog might behave? Do I feel embarrassed to need my friend’s help? Do I feel guilty about abandoning my dog? Perhaps it is a reminder that I will have to face my Games challenges soon and nothing to do with the dog or the man.
I don’t know and I don’t have a clue which might be right. I do know that I would rather avoid meeting him just now. I would like to be somewhere else. I would like to be able to ignore his presence. My dog has finished sniffing and looks up. He sees his future host, recognises him and starts bounding towards him. My dog is constrained by the lead attached to his collar and my hand making his progress towards his target slower than he would like. Somehow my dog’s behaviour makes me feel a bit better. The humans exchange greetings and my friend tells my dog that he is only excited because the dog is always given a biscuit by him. This is probably true, but who doesn’t like a poodle excitedly bouncing up to you? Assuming you like dogs that is.
My dog’s stay is mentioned and I ask when would be a good time to take him around on Tuesday. We agree on eight o’clock and move off in opposite directions. The first awkward encounter negotiated. Why do I get het up about these things? A few minutes later and I feel a few drops of rain fall on me. This is a earlier than expected and I ponder whether to head back home or carry on. I gamble on the rain coming in slowly and head across the road to do a circuit of the park. There is only one car in the carpark and sitting in it will be a friend who may be upset with me. My last encounter was nowhere near as difficult as this one could be. What to do? Should I try to escape or should I face the consequences of my actions?
Once I have made a decision I tend to follow through with it not matter how the circumstances have changed. I have made my bed so that now I will lie on it. In this case, I have crossed the road to do walk around the park. I feel compelled to continue on this action no matter what the consequences are. I wonder if this is where the concept of honour comes from? I made a bond with myself and I am going to keep it. Or is it about not allowing myself to be wrong? There is so much doubt in any decision I make that if I changed my mind, I would never settle on anything. I continue walking as if there is no turmoil in my mind. I let the dog off the lead and walk on ahead. Sometime I pause to let him catch up. Sometime he runs on ahead and I am catching up with him. I have heightened awareness of my actions as I tussle with the tricky problem of what to say.
I may however not have to say anything because maybe the car will have driven off by the time I get there. I feel this is unlikely though because I suspect this person is pretty lonely and this is their way of socialising. The question then is not whether I will approach the car but what I will say. Do I need to apologise for the possible hurt a group I belong to has caused though our collective decisions? If so, what do I say? I run through possible scenarios as I walk towards the car but as I get nearer it seems to be that the important thing is to show that I still consider them a friend. I know from experience that hurt people so often feel that are being ignored by me that I feel I need to make an effort to show otherwise. Whatever has happened in the past, I seems the most important thing is to keep lines of communication open, we wont be able to resolve anything if we don’t speak to each other. I decide to take the topic of conversation from the car owner and see where it leads.
A few metres away, I speak to the driver through the open car window. I say hello and ask whether the dog in the back seat needs to be walked. The answer to the question is that the guy I met earlier has already walked the dog. I wonder briefly if he knows of the situation, or is it me that is projecting the guilt and judgement? The car owner is another person that gives my dog a treat and he runs around the car trying to find a way in. I mention this and the driver’s door is open and a biscuit dispensed. We talk about everyday things. The temperature drop with rain and how houses retain the heat. The number of birthday parties a grand-daughter is getting. The travels of my family. As we chat, I see a friend from swimming pull up in a car. As he is releasing his child from a rear kiddie’s seat, we make eye contact and I wave. I see him head off to the play park.
All the while the rain drops have been slowly falling more frequency and increasing in size. I excuse myself before it gets too heavy and say my goodbyes. There has been no mention of hurts given or received and I feel I have done a good enough job. My swimming pal has returned to his car and is strapping his kid back in when I pass. I comment on his bad timing for the rain and we stand and chat for a bit too. He asks how I am and I mention going to the Transplant Games. He has never heard of them and so I explain. I am aware that I said goodbye to the last person because of the rain, but find myself once more standing in it having another conversation. It seems a bit hypocritical. However, it is a short chat and soon the dog and I are heading back home. I jog a bit as though I am trying to make up for lost time but we are pretty damp by the time we get home.
So much for going for a dog walk before the rain comes in.