Leo loved taking Precious on long walks around town. He would get busy with a project, or work, or helping someone, and think: I don’t have time for a walk with Precious.
Then, he’d realize: that’s crazy. Of course I have time for a walk with Precious. And, he’d get her on the leash, grab some plastic sacks for poop scooping, and head out.
Walking with a dog on the leash turns transportation into meditation. You can’t have a destination or time too much in mind; you have to let the dog stop, sniff, circle, pee, reverse directions, and do it all again. If you pass other dogs out on their walks, you must do the modern-day equivalent of doffing your cap, sharing a conspiratorial smile that encompasses all the emotions of dog-love: the joyfulness, the slight anxiety to keep your canine friend safe, the slow release of built-up tension, the shiver of disgust at having to touch poop, even through a plastic bag or scoop.
When Allison returned from caring for her mom, and knocked on his door, Leo had been out with Precious, walking a random route, stopping to chat with others they met along the way. He’d intended to stop by Franny’s place, and bring her along on their walk, but Precious had started off in the opposite direction. For an elderly dog, she could pull a strong man like Leo down the sidewalk with surprising ease. Perhaps it was because Leo didn’t like to use his full strength, but he wondered. In a true tug of war, if Precious gave it her all, and he did the same, who would win? She had a single-mindedness that, Leo believed, would give her the advantage over his brute strength.
So, he decided to follow the scruffy old dog on her choice of route, and gently wind their way to see Franny at the end of their walk. Perhaps they could convince her to put her writing aside, for a bit, and come sit on the porch with them, enjoying the sensation of summer lilting in the air.
When they came to the sidewalk in front of Franny’s building, though, Leo saw David buzzing the front door. He fought the irrational urge to rescue Franny, as if something bad was about to happen.
That’s silly, Leo thought. David’s odd, and awkward, but he’s trying.
Still, Leo decided to circle the block with Precious, more compliant now that she’d burned off some of her canine energy, until he could be sure David had left again.