dogs · Poetry

Not All Who Wander…

Small dog follows me

Harbor master says don’t mind

He’s on his wander


I had an hour to walk, take pictures, buy a pretty gift for a friend who is getting married. Walking fast, setting up shots of architectural gems, wondering at the stifling heat at 9:00 a.m., I smiled at the fishermen, greeted other walkers, and waved to the family eating scrambled eggs on a picnic table outside a huge van retrofitted to camper.

He was sniffing around the lone picnic table under a large canopy of wisteria. The small brown and black dog looked to be six or eight pounds and a marvelous mix of purebreeds having a good time. His eyes met mine.

I strode along the dock, wondering what it’s like to live on a houseboat and admiring planters overflowing with purple and red flowers set at the end of each dock. My neck itched. Someone was following me.

Casually, I turned and there he was. The small dog was following me. Several feet behind me, he stopped when I did and pretended to examine a leaf.

I started walking and he did, too, keeping his careful ten feet behind me.

I was a visitor to this town with goals, commitments, and plans. He was a tiny little dog with no collar, no identification, and a winsome face.

What would I want someone to do for my dog? I would want them to ask others if they knew him. Reason argued that he wasn’t in pain, wasn’t distressed and possibly was just a friendly little dog making his daily rounds while an intense woman flips out over his wellbeing. Heart insisted that I make sure that he was truly well — and wouldn’t let go even as Reason urged me on into the plans, into the day of getting things done.

Two dark-haired women at the picnic table set under the maple tree were pointing at a sailboat heading out into the lake. I asked them if they knew the dog. One laughed and said that he was the harbor master’s dog and that he was enjoying the day, walking in the sunshine while his person worked.

I looked back. The small dog was rolling in the grass, no longer following me and making himself my responsibility. At peace that he was at peace, I walked through the streets and found a perfect metal fence to photograph.

From J.R.R.Tolkien: “All that is gold does not glitter/Not all those who wander are lost.” From a badly painted refrigerator magnet: “Not all those who are lost, wander.” {which magnet was so terribly made and the quote so mangled that I gave it away years ago and now I would keep it because it works}


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