Yesterday Luke, Elsa and I hit a favorite park of mine here in OR. It is very rural and quiet; and sits on the edge of the Willamette River. As I pulled in and glanced toward "our spot," I noticed a car. "Nuts." There is a great open space to run the dogs there but it was already taken. I pulled into a parking spot to wait it out. After several antsy minutes of checking my rear view mirror I realized that it was going to be a while. I pulled out of my spot and headed for a more treed area; not the greatest for the chuck it, but doable. As we passed by the prime grass spot I had a better look at the dog who had taken up "our spot." He was old, his face grizzled by time and his body degraded by many years. His owner, who was an elderly man; sat in a small truck beside the dog. He was sunning his old dog.
I drove at a snails pace past the two and could not help but "awwwwwwww" to myself. This man was giving his very old dog time; just time to spend soaking up the glorious sun that had appeared on a very chilly morning. We pulled up to our destination which was not so far from the old dog and his man. I kept a close eye on the dog as we were going off leash. The old dog did notice us and seemed to have some great interest. He struggled to his feet and positioned himself where he could watch Elsa and her antics. After watching him move to a better place I realized that he was not going to be coming any closer. It seemed to take everything he had just to turn around so he could watch us.
I watched him watching us for a long while. Both Luke and Elsa had noticed him but gave him no mind as he just lay there. Elsa was too interested in her ball and Luke himself, is in that glorious "golden years" stage; when all he cares about are the good things in life. The old dog that lay watching Luke and Elsa seemed to be maybe a hunting type mix. He was mostly white with black splotches; perhaps he had been much darker in his younger years. I thought about those younger years; him spending hours there at the park running, maybe swimming and chasing a ball. But now the years had caught up with him and he had only enough energy to switch positions a couple of times.
Not long after we started our fun in the forest; I saw the dog get up and move towards the truck that sat literally three feet away. He moved slower than I've seen a dog move in a long time. The man got out of the truck and stroked his dog's head and they shared a moment. Seeing that they were leaving, I called to Luke and Elsa that we were moving on. As I hoisted Luke into the car I watch the man and his old dog pull away. He was rubbing his dog's head as if to say "there you go, how was that?" The bond between the two was quite obvious and without ever speaking to him I could tell how much he loved his dog. He was there for his dog; not for himself, no, just his dog. But in giving this sunning moment to his dog; he most definitely gave to himself. He awarded himself with the very special gift of giving. Giving to someone else for the very selfless act of just giving.
I had my camera with me and wanted so badly to go and talk to the man and his dog. But I knew if I went over that I would be interrupting a very special moment. Witnessing their time spent together from afar was enough and surely made me smile. It truly is the little things, isn't it? At this time of year, giving is the general theme. It is so heartwarming to see people give of themselves; not a material gift, not money or anything that cost money; a gift of time itself, their time. Not only did that man share a gift with his dog; but it was unknowingly shared with me as well. A very nice gift indeed.