Good Morning, Everyone!
The hour between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. is referred to around here as the dog hour. (Curiously, there's a cat in my lap as I write this. Editing, probably.) It's an hour later in the winter because of early-morning darkness, though I've seen hearty souls on their way with flashlights, but with Spring in full swing, and a light sky by shortly after 6:00, Cheyenne and I are up and doing by 6:15. And so is the entire neighborhood.
It's fascinating how on-schedule we all are. Our first contact with friends is half a block away at the top of our street when we meet Jane, who works for a physical therapist, and Gracie, who is a little white rag-mop of a mixed breed. Cheyenne loves Gracie, but gets little more than tolerance in return while Jane and I, both married to artists, exchange news on the latest show or sketching-group meeting.
Half a block west, we meet Will and Astra. Will is a student who always looks sleepy - probably studies hard - and Astra is about 40 pounds of Brindle-colored, stand-up-eared, Heinz 57 dog. Cheyenne drags me the last few yards towards them and Astra is usually standing on her hind-feet, waiting for her. They nuzzle, wriggle, pounce and play while Will smiles and says a sleepy good-morning.
On the next corner we run into Alyssa and Katie. Alyssa is Will's opposite, sounds like she's been up for hours, and is beautifully made up. I'd guess she's in her middle thirties. She does horse massage and is filled with good will and good cheer - just the things you'd love to have stroked into your riding companion. Katie is a sleek-coated rescue dog who wags and sniffs with Cheyenne.
It's been our pattern for the three years since Cheyenne moved in with us to go east several blocks past the playground, or west, past the elegant old homes built in the 19th Century. Suddenly - maybe because the weather's been generally nicer, Cheyenne looks back at me when we return from one direction with the clear question - "Can we go the other way, too? Please? Huh?" So, we do.
They don't like us so much in that direction, but fortunately they're behind a fence. The Brewers have two Giant Schnauzers and one standard, who bark from the minute they spot us coming until we're out of sight. I imagine several residents of that block still in bed, putting pillows over their heads, or giving up and getting up earlier than they'd planned.
A block and a half beyond Brewers we meet Adam, a young man who bristles with energy and ideas and has a design business at home. He's planning a sailing expedition with friends to the San Juans in July and, when we meet, is heading down to the bakery for coffee. He was always alone until last week when he had a little Pit-Bull mix puppy, Winston, on a leash. Adam is providing day-care for the pup for a female friend with whom he's trying to make points. I encourage him. He'd be a great catch. Winston jumps up on Cheyenne, she bumps him with her nose, and they sniff and nuzzle.
On our way back toward home, we encounter a young couple with two giant white Pyrenees who would like to see Cheyenne removed from the face of the earth. Contrarily, she would like to make friends. Sometimes, it's hard to tell how much of that barking is bluster, but since there are two of them, I never let her get close enough to find out. But we almost always meet them at a corner, and when I've crossed the street, thinking ahead to avoid that, they've done the same thing and we meet anyway. Another bark-fest that's soon over.
On our corner, Steve, our good friend, is walking Hunter, a Basset with the oddest voice and a long tail with three inches of bright white at the tip that you can see, even in the dark. Hunter and Cheyenne are a little like Sofia Loren and Carlo Ponti (if any of you is old enough to remember that life-long love.) Cheyenne is three times his size and bangs him on the head with her paw, but he loves it and comes back for more. Steve, a teacher, can't linger, so we have to drag them apart and go our separate ways, telling each other to have a great day.
Cheyenne seems as happy and invigorated to have met her friends as I am to have met mine. Our two cats waiting for us on the porch come running up to meet her, I unhook her leash and they run home together. Our day is off to a good start.