by Karen J Mossman
From my diary of 2011
Every day at lunchtime, I come home from work and take my Yorkshire terrier, Jodie, to the local park, Victoria Park, Stretford, in Manchester. There are two big fields and a few nooks and crannies to wander around. At lunchtime, I just walk around the perimeter of one field. Weekends are lovely, I go in around at 9 am and have a leisurely stroll, often bumping into the same people. Then I go again mid-afternoon. Weekends are usually a bit of an adventure. Something interesting always happens.
That particular morning, I arrived at about 9.15 and stepped out of the car as my foot slid on the icy floor. At the same time, an elderly lady fell flat on her back on the pavement. Jodie and I went quickly over as a man parked up his car and got out, and a bloke across the road came running over, too. Between the three of us, we could get her to feet. Luckily, she was unhurt.
“Where are you going?” the man from the car asked.
“Just to the precinct,” she replied.
“I’ll give you a lift.” She got into the back of his car and the second man got in the front. I hadn’t even realised they were together. It struck me how my Mum always said never to get in a car with strangers, but I expect it was okay as none of them were under 65!
Jodie pooped as soon as she got on the grass. She must have been desperate as she never does it there. I picked it up in one of the little black plastic bags. Funny how you get used to doing that. It’s a bit like changing your child’s nappy. You’d hate to do anyone else’s, but you and yours are okay.
A man and his shitzu were standing across the way, watching us. His dog was very interested in Jodie’s presence. I bid him good morning, and he said it back. I kept to the grass as I’d already stepped on an ice rink and had to stand still for a moment, afraid I would slip. We walked in the nooks and crannies, and over the white hard grass. There were a few other dogs and owners stomping round, but none I knew. Jodie didn’t mind where we went as she sniffed and wee’d her way around every tree and clump of leaves.
As I came back around after depositing the black bag in the poo bin, I squeezed through a hedge as an old lady with an elderly King Charles spaniel came through.
“What’s it like over there, is it safe?” she asked. “Everywhere is like a millpond.”
“Oh, I know. I’m stomping around here carefully. Yes, it’s fine.”
“That’s good,” she said, and off she went.
I’ve only been a dog owner eleven months and I love that I belonged to an elite club. Other dog owners talk to me and I speak to them as if I know them. I would never do that with a stranger as we pass each other on the street. Pass a dog owner, and the least we’ll say is hello.