When I walk the dogs I see lots of people doing the same thing, some stop and speak, some don’t. Those who speak tend to always speak and speaking is normally related to how well your dogs’ get on. If they get on well you tend to stop and speak lots. If your dogs' fight you tend to give each other a wide berth.
The strange thing is although you will speak about all manner of different things, you often don’t get to know one another’s names; you’ll always know the names of their dogs, but often not one another’s names. Sometimes this will even extend to not recognising one another if you meet sans dogs.
One of my dog owner friends owns a Labrador called Coco. Her owner is restricted to an invalid cart, but this doesn’t stop them enjoying long “walks” together, around the park. Wilson and Sparky love them both, Wilson especially loves rides on the “footplate” of the invalid carriage. Whenever we’d meet, we’d stop and chat. Chat about our dogs, chat about the weather, chat about this, chat about that. I think we both enjoy seeing each other once or twice a week just to say hello, and for Wilson to have a ride.
I write about this in the present tense but actually I should be using the past. I found out this evening that Coco’s owner has passed away quietly in his sleep. I knew he wasn’t well, obviously restricted to an invalid carriage was a clue, but we never spoke much about his health. We spoke more about the health of Coco, as a Labrador she was pretty typically overweight. We spoke several times a week. I’d not seen him for a few days, but had no idea what had happened, I also have no idea what his name is*.
I understand that his wife will be looking after Coco, she herself is not in the best of health but she apparently promised her husband to take care of their dog, should something happen to him.
I regret not having any photographs of him and Coco, or of Wilson hitching a footplate ride; most of all I regret not knowing his name.
For me he will always be Mr Coco.
*I have subsequently found out that he might be called Ted, but I still don’t know for sure.