I carry FLD Henry from the car across the park to meet Tammy. She is sitting in the pavilion waiting for us. I set the sleepy pup down some 20 feet away and wait for him to "park."
A short, round man strolling with a rounder old dog along a perimeter fence line spots Henry. "A baby!" he exclaims and picks up his pace to a slow walk. I hadn't even had Henry for two hours and already he is attracting attention. I shouldn't be surprised. Henry is an adorable puppy.
|FLD Henry shakes off.|
Henry pees before the man reaches us. (Yay!) I snap him up into my arms. The man is disappointed that I don't let him meet his dog.
"He hasn't had all his shots, yet," I say. The man's dog, some kind of beagle mix, is overweight, has cloudy eyes and a myriad of gnarly red tumors sprouting from her snout, ears, paws and just about everywhere.
"She's on her last leg," the man says. "And so am I." He lifts his shirt slightly to show us a black bag and holster belted around his waist. "This is my mechanical heart. I'm getting a transplant and I won't be able to get another puppy. It's a bad time for me."
I step forward. "You can pet him," I say. The man asks, "Can I hold him?" I hand over Henry, who snuggles into his neck as the man buries his face against his fur. The man takes a deep breath. "Puppies always smell so good!" he sighs.
"This is Henry," I say. "Henry!" the man exclaims. "Sadie, where's Henry?" Sadie has curled up a few feet away, glad for the break. I'm worried the man will bring Henry down to greet her.
"My Sadie has a favorite stuffed toy named Henry," the man explains. Sadie isn't interested, she seems content to rest. I reach to retrieve my puppy. Instead, the man slips the handle of Sadie's retractable leash into my hand and begs me to let him hold Henry for just a little longer. The man eases himself onto the picnic table bench and begins to quietly cry into Henry's shoulder.
Henry quietly accommodates him.
|FLD Henry takes a nap under our picnic table. It's hard work lending a shoulder to cry on!|