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The parade is diverse and continuous in the warm morning sun. It still starts my day with a smile.

"Good morning, Ricky" I called out as I tended my flowers early in the morning by the sidewalk. He turned his handsome head with its dark curls my way briefly, then continued his walk up the hill, unimpressed. His companion, on the other hand, gave his usual cheerful "nice morning!" and let Ricky imperiously lead on. Although he appeared to be a bit of a snob, perhaps Ricky was determined that he would not be known as one of those trendy "doodle" dogs but rather a purebred standard poodle, my favorite breed of dog. Like European aristocracy, he was proud of his pedigree and wanted to show it off. COURTESY PHOTO: PEGGY KEONJIAN - Keonjian

My love of that breed started when I first moved to New York City many years ago. I was warned that New Yorkers never make eye contact with strangers in the crowded city, much less introduce themselves. Since back home my parents had enjoyed their daily walks around our neighborhood by greeting every dog and cat whose names they had obtained, I decided it might be safe to do the same in New York. A few floors above mine in my NY apartment building lived two dog "brothers" who were often on the elevator on their way out for a walk as I went to work. Abercrombie was a large chocolate brown standard poodle, and Fitch was a sleepy-eyed basset hound. As I greeted them both, Abercrombie would give me a huge doggie smile and a tail wag. He seemed to be saying "Hi, have a great day!" as his eyes sparkled, while Fitch merely seemed to be judging my choice of shoes that day. It started my morning with a smile.

Today, like my parents, I still like to greet the many dogs who pass my house if I know their names. I know few of the owner's names, however, and as we were trained as children, never reach out to pat their companion's furry head. Most walkers and joggers today have in ear buds (as do I), so I've learned to recognize their haunted "please don't make me stop to talk to you" look. I don't want to be the cause of people crossing the street to the other side as they get near, fearful I will interrupt their podcast, music or phone call with a yearning look for conversation. So I briefly greet the dogs instead.

Those dogs bred to guard often regard me with suspicion lest I approach their human. Ellie originally watched me with scary pit bull eyes but turned out to be a sweetheart who munched my plants. Sunny always barks as though she has never seen me before, while Maggie the Havanese waddles happily down the sidewalk, giving me a tail wave. Lucy the Aussie will bolt like lightning across the street to greet me when she is supposed to be climbing into the car for a trip, so I ignore her, not wanting to get us into trouble with her humans. The beagles wait patiently as I chat with their owners, old friends, while sniffing the nearby grass to see if their own friends recently passed by. The parade is diverse and continuous in the warm morning sun. It still starts my day with a smile.

And perhaps as you go by you could give a wave and cheerful smile as you pass. We can't wag a tail, but we can wave and smile back.

Peggy Keonjian is a member of the Jottings Group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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