There’s a place I like to walk with my doggie Kebab, on timberland which has been given to the county as a series of connected greenbelts. Old logging roads and trails squirrel throughout forest and fern. Kebab smells everything avidly and pees industrially on important spots as he scampers in his own canine Disneyland.

Kebab on the trail
Kebab on the trail

Sometimes I listen to a podcast with one ear, but mostly I just think as I walk, occasionally humming The Bridge On the River Kwai theme song, because it is great for getting a good pace going. Sometimes I see no one else on the walk, other times I pass a few people here and there along the way. If there’s another dog walker, I have to herd my little herder, else he may follow them, because other doglets are so much more fun than I am.

Yesterday I met a woman walking a runty Chinese Crested sort of dog.  We started talking and she said her little dog would refuse to go past a certain point further up the hill where the road bends. Just stops in her tiny tracks. The woman said she wondered if the dog could sense danger that she couldn’t, and so she hadn’t gone past that place, though it was a shame because she wants to do a 2 mile walkie for exercise. “Is it safe?” she asked me.

This is something most men don’t think about, but most women do: Is it safe to walk alone on this road? A few days earlier, a friend I was introducing to the delights of my county, asked the same thing. And neither of them were really talking about bears or cougars, though there are those about, too.

I said, Come on, I’ll show you. So we walked up the hill and around past the worrisome bend, and enjoyed the forest and the exercise and talked about our lives. We got in a 3.5 mile round trip, and she was so pleased and encouraged. I realized that I’d made her day, just by helping her past that bend. I’m not saying I did anything spectacular or extraordinary. I mean, all I did was walk with her. But such a simple thing clearly empowered her to not fear the forest.

And I saw that I could improve someone’s life just a bit, and make a friend out of a random encounter on a walking trail. And that improved my life, too.

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