…and the smell of greasy corn dogs and over-cooked pizza clogged my nasal passages. There were too many things flooding my senses and I was worn out.

I’d been assigned to take pictures at a horse-drawn equipment auction. Traveling with me was my buddy and trusty photographer’s assistant, Boogie the dog.

She and I have covered many miles together. She’s a dog that, when I put a camera to my eye, will sit directly behind me so as not to mess up that photo. When the camera comes down, she goes back to sniffing her interesting smells.

This isn’t something I’ve taught her. In fact, before I knew what she was doing, I’d step backwards and stumble over her. Frankly, that was cause for a few exciting moments between us.

It was time for me to take a break from noise and people. I headed for the parking lot.

Leaning against the seat of my pickup’s open door, I sipped water and nibbled on my stashed granola. Boogie jumped out of the truck.

“Tired of sitting?” I asked. “How about we take a walk and clear both of our heads?”

I slipped a rope leash over her head, more for the sake of the people around me than any need on her part. As we walked, I tucked the end of her rope through one of my camera backpack straps. She trotted by my side and sniffed her way through the equipment aisles.

That’s when the old-time noticed us and said, “You got a pretty good handle on that dog.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “We’ve spent a lot of time together and have taught each other pretty well.”

I continued, “I got her from a hired man who worked on a ranch deep in the desert. When she was a pup, it took me a month to convince her there were more than four humans on the earth. After that, we bonded pretty tight.”

The old-timer had long-distance blue eyes that looked more comfortable navigating a ridge than stepping into a city crosswalk. His salt and pepper beard was so long that it probably caught any crumbs spilled while eating beside a campfire. He knew how to introduce himself to a stock dog. Bending over, he let her sniff the back of his hand. When she was finished, he squatted to her height and scratched her back.

Boogie is usually standoffish with strangers. I was surprised when she didn’t summarily dismiss him. Rather, she leaned into his attentions while keeping an eye on his facial expressions.

He said to me, “When my last dog was a pup, I took her and my mule into the Colorado mountains for four months. She didn’t know anything other than me and that mule. That’s when a person learns to relate to a dog…”

…me, you and a mule

the whole world, just us –

wind tickled pines

beneath the whole Milky Way

our home, family, everything…

…he continued, “Thanks, I appreciate you letting me love on your dog for a while. You know, I think I’ll get one more dog to see me out of this life.”

“Good luck to you,” I said.

Me and my dog wandered off in a separate direction through the crowd.

And I stepped aside from the ebb and flow of auction traffic. I hunkered down and she turned to face me, wondering what I wanted. I gave her one of her favorite ear rubs.

“Thank you for giving a lonely old guy his dog fix,” I told her.

She stared back, ears erect and head cocked, watching my face. By her body language, I understood, that for her, the old-timer was in the past. She was more concerned about finding a rat or squirrel to hunt somewhere in a forgotten corner of the auction.

I smiled back at her and we moved into the crowd where, at least, one of us was hoping to spot that rodent.

moments of grace are a rare thing in this world. Dogs are better than humans at creating these special times.

 These days, Boogie is showing her age. Her fur is getting tufty, her hearing isn’t what it was and she spends more time on the rug near the woodstove. I try not to laugh when a rodent gets away from her.

 When her time comes, that’s fine. We’ve had a good long run and I’m content with our adventures together. And yes, when that happens, I’ll probably get another dog to see me out of this life.

 If you enjoyed this story and are interested in an e-book of stories about dogs that have made a profound difference in the lives of humans, you can purchase from one of these stores…

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