Glad eyes, that's what he has, Molson, this friend of mine with golden hair and lolling tongue.
We run from the house into the evening air, his nails tap-tap-tap-tapping lightly on the pavement as my feet thud-thud beside him.
He dances with exuberant joy at being "out." Jumping high, he catches his red leash in his mouth and tugs me along; pulling it as if he is playing a joke, pretending that it is he taking me for the walk. He is so HAPPY and he communicates that with every fibre of his being and glance of his glad eyes.
The first rush of excitement settles and he trots forward with focus, pacing his trot perfectly to my stride. He is a gentleman of a dog, disciplined and well bred.
He reads the ground with his nose and leaves messages behind for others who will follow. He looks as if he is about very serious business. I don't hurry him; it seems a small thing to wait when he is such good company.
On Friday evening the village is a-buzz with lawnmowers. It seems that people are getting a head start on the weekend chores. I inhale the scent of fresh mown grass.
On Saturday the sound of backyard fun fills the air, as if, the chores done, it is time to enjoy the weekend. From behind hedges and fences come the sound of children's voices, laughter, and the splash of water in backyard pools. The appetizing smell of meat grilling on a barbecue tantalizes my nose.
On Sunday night we walk under a rosy sky as God slowly pulls the blanket of evening over the village. We pass a house with the garage lit up and the front door open. Lawn chairs sit deserted outside and from a stereo inside the garage comes the mournful, wailing sound of a country song. As we pass, the music gradually fades from our ears.
Along the way I catch the scent of blossom from a nearby tree. I walk closer and stop to smell a sprig. It is Molson's turn to wait patiently. If he wonders what I can find to smell on a tree when all the good smells are on the ground, he doesn't show it. He knows the first rule of friendship; acceptance.
Tonight we leave the house later than usual and blue sky and fluffy salmon pink clouds are fading quickly into dusk.
We run and I hear his tags jingling and his ears thudding he shakes his head.
I shout, "Hi" to a neighbour.
"Can I see your dog?" he asks, walking towards us past the sprinkler out front on his lawn.
"He's the best dog in the world," I say,
"Not a mean bone in his body."
"I had a golden myself," he says.
"He got old and we had to put him down just three months ago. His name was Gatesby."
"I'm so sorry. What a perfect name."
He is squatting beside Molson now and Molson is sitting while he pets him. He fingers his tag with the cross of St. John's Ambulance.
"He's a therapy dog," I tell him.
"He visits seniors now. He's working his way up to visiting group homes. "
"Ah, they will love him," he says.
We say goodbye and walk on. The air carries the fragrant scent of wood -smoke from a backyard bonfire. Firecrackers go off intermittently; it is the eve of Canada Day. Molson doesn't react—he's so not high strung.
His cold, wet nose and mouth rub my hand in a sign of love.
As we walk on, fireflies flash in the ditches.
I think of Gatesby, and Eric, my friend Dave's dog, and Irene's Henry, who were such faithful friends while they lived; and Molson, who is still fulfilling his assignment to love his people unconditionally.
And I wonder if maybe dogs earn wings like Clarence the angel in the movie, It's a Wonderful Life.
I see a lot of God in dogs: Faithfulness, unconditional love and quick forgiveness.
I am grateful for the four-legged friend sent to be our angel in a fur coat.