License to Speak to Strangers

This morning while out to breakfast with my son, I received such a nice compliment in regards to my foster service-dog-in-training, who had blended in so well with the dark carpeting that someone almost stepped on him. An older gentleman walked up, took a chair at the table next to ours, pointed to the black lab on my leash, and asked, “Is he from that place around the corner there?” I assured him he was. Pleased with his recognition, he said, “I thought so. I saw something about that on the television.”

“Oh, Operation Max on Fox 5?” I presumed.

He shook his head not knowing what I was talking about. “No, this was a couple years ago.” He looked up at nothing in particular as if remembering details of the TV special. “And once I saw a van full of them getting out at the Wal-Mart. They were golden retrievers, all of ‘em. Little bitty things.” He grinned.

I’d instantly thought it must’ve been the organization’s bus that hauls camp recipients around during their stay in town as they’re meeting and getting accustomed to their new dogs, but the “little bitty things” comment threw me for a loop.

Regardless, he went on, “I don’t have anything to do with them, but I’ve always felt proud of ‘em. You know, because they’re right here, right here in our community.”

IMG_6181My foster dog, as if on cue, was resting his head on my foot underneath the table being a perfect model for Canine Assistants. “Yes sir. I completely understand. Today is this one’s second birthday. He’s an Irish boy born on St. Patrick’s Day, and next week he’s going to find his special person. He’s going to break my heart in a hundred pieces, but that’s what we’ve been working towards for the last couple years.”

That’s a fine thing.

A fine thing indeed. A dog born on St. Patrick’s Day wearing a green vest, causing recognition in a public place, where strangers can connect, recount, and in a hectic world can find something to be proud of that fosters the sense of community