On several early mornings now, while driving Thomas at a snail’s pace up to the bike trail for our long morning walk, I have passed a very old man walking along the sidewalk on 7th Street. In his gnarled left hand, he holds the leash of a medium-sized dog, perhaps a terrier and cattle dog mix. The fingers of his right hand curl around the handle of a doll stroller, and he pushes it before them as he and the dog walk ever so slowly down the street.
Though I’ve seen them several times now, I haven’t been able to determine what’s in the doll stroller, but it looks like a small cooler, the type one would use to carry a bottle of water and perhaps a sandwich. Or possibly, if one had a worrisome wife or husband at home, extra medication… and contact information. I can only conjecture.
The dog is not an old dog. It is not stiff or plodding in its gait. It’s blocky, cattle dog head is held high, pointy ears straight up at attention. Its eyes are bright and clear as it surveys the landscape around them. One would think that such a dog would long to trot forward, sniff the grass, examine the shrubs along their route, and pee copiously. This dog does not. It matches its pace to the slow, methodical pace of the very old man as it marches majestically beside him.
My friends and I (those of us who love our dogs as if they are our children) wonder, “How will I walk my dogs when I am very old?” Let’s remember the doll stroller, shall we? If nothing else, it will offer something solid to lean on as we make our way down the road.