The dogs are missing me.
My husband, Peter, predicted this after we moved. “All the dogs will miss you,” he said. “They are going to be looking for the Treat Lady. Don’t you think that’s sad?”
I did not. First of all, I didn’t believe it. Just because I passed out treats for a couple of years to the dogs didn’t mean they would expect to see me again. Just because they remembered me when they saw me didn’t mean I would ever cross their minds if they didn’t see me.
But yesterday I got two text messages from dog owners claiming their dogs were missing me. Both included photos of the supposedly bereaved dogs. One showed a dog looking mournfully into the camera. The second was a photo of two dogs staring at the trail where I used to meet them on my hike in the evenings. The photo was captioned:, “They look for you every night.”
I am dubious.
For starters, the two dogs who are supposedly still looking for me are the border collies who attended my going-away party, and if you’ve ever met a border collie, you know how clever they are. I’m certain they remember the party and knew why we were throwing it. If they are still watching the trail, it is likely to find my replacement. They probably also have a posting on Craigslist, “Seeking middle-aged woman to provide refreshments an hour before owner gets home. Serious applicants only.”
The other dog was Remington and if Remington is missing anyone, it would be Peter, who tossed exactly six goldfish crackers to him every day of the pandemic. Peter called him a “circus dog,” and told him it was a shame they no longer hired dogs to entertain under the big top. Remington’s goldfish cracker-catching skills are probably getting rusty, but that has nothing to do with me.
It’s not the dogs who are missing me. I miss being the Treat Lady.
There is nothing stopping me from handing out dog treats. Every day, I walk through new neighborhoods, seeing new sights, learning my way around. At first, I had to consult my phone constantly as I wandered, with no idea where I was or where I was headed. Now I have a two-mile area in all directions pretty well explored. There are lots of folks walking dogs everywhere I go. But I haven’t handed out any treats. I’m not quite sure why.
Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I am a resident yet and handing out treats seems like something a host would do for a guest. “Oh, Aren’t you a nice dog. It’s so lovely to meet you. You look like you deserve a treat.” Maybe it’s because I’m in a more urban environment and I worry someone might mistake me for a Secret Dog Poisoner instead of the Treat Lady.
Last night, Peter and I went to hear music in the park. There were dogs everywhere. Some were clearly veterans of the concert scene. They wagged their tails in time to the music as they walked by, too cool to notice strangers. Some were new to the whole thing, excited by the sounds and people and music. One young puppy caught sight of the pizza Peter and I were sharing and made a beeline toward us.
“Stop,” The puppy’s owner said. The puppy reluctantly retreated.
I wasn’t going to share my pizza with the puppy. But I wished I had a treat. Maybe I’ll be the Treat Lady again before I know it.