By Marion Brody Kelly

Silas Creek Greenway was easy to find.  We left the car off Yorkshire Road at Shaffner Park, where a new playground is under construction.  This greenway is a short, shady walk in an old, shady neighborhood.  It’s one I would use all the time if I lived close by. 

Our company on this walk was families with young children, bike riders, and some others out for a mid-morning leg stretch.  The morning was pleasant, and we could see the creek through the leaves.  After the double dog bath last time, I decided we would skip a swim.

As we strolled along, Jake skidded to a stop, landing on a boney knee, then dove nose first into some transforming smell.  I saw nothing, reminding me that while walking side by side, the dogs and I are in different worlds.  I didn’t even get a whiff, but for Jake that smell was great literature.   

So who are these guys, these dogs helping me scope out all the fun spots in the city?

Photo by Virginia Weiler

Sam, our older boy, came from the Humane Society, source of many great dogs including our fabulous Moe, now loping through dog heaven.  When we adopted Sam, he and his brother were the last two of a large litter that had spent most of their lives in that shelter.  He looks, at about 40 pounds, like a little German Shepherd with a brindled head and dainty feet.  Because his brother, Thor, looked mostly like a small yellow lab, one observer called Sam a “summa” dog.  Summa this, summa that.  He won our hearts by spending his visiting time sitting on my feet and ignoring the fizz of streaking, barking dogs around him.  We imagined serenity, but he was actually just making his choice.  

Sam doesn’t even sleep serenely.  He’s a passionate, anxious, happy boy.  At the dog park, he meets new dogs by tucking tail and feet and rolling onto his back.  At the house, he meets new human friends by throwing himself onto their laps gasping and grinning.  At the doorway, he shouts threats at the mailman, but on the street, he runs from strangers.   Only two and a half, he is serious about the big brother job.  Stern and insistent with the new kid, he still shares his bowl and bones.

My husband Eddie likes a calm home.  He survived 13 years with our last pair of woofy maniacs.  Then he was clamishly happy with only blissful Sam sleeping on top of his head at night and sitting on his feet during dinner. Yet Eddie kept an eye on me.  He knew that part of my heart continued to search for a second dog.  I didn’t think I meant to, really. 

Then one Saturday in January I go out to do errands and come home with Jake. Sniffing at a dead opossum in the middle of the street, Jake had no collar, and no objection to being scooped into my car.  We found his owners, who gladly handed me his info and waved good-bye.  Lucky Jake.  Lucky me. Surprise, Eddie . . . and happy birthday!

Jake is a threefold rescue.  Rescued from a home where his mother had her throat cut, passed by his rescuer to a second home, and then handed off to me.  He has the lankiness of a hound, the sweetness of a lab, and the patches, brindling, and focus of a Pit.  Forty-five pounds of snuggly lap dog, he is working his way through the dog training, trying for Canine Good Citizen at PetSmart.

Can you tell I love my dogs?  I’m not ashamed.   Just seeing the word “dog” makes me happy, even on a sign that says “Beware of the —-.”  I love dogs in general and my own in particular; dogs of my past and dogs of my present.  I love finding ways to make our lives with dogs better.  That’s why we have spent these hours on the greenway.  Which reminds me: Pick up that dog poop, folks!  I want everybody to enjoy these paths, with or without dogs.

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