The Spaniards are fond of their dogs.
My husband Peter and I are staying for a month in an Airbnb in the oldest part of Pamplona, Spain. Every morning, Peter hikes the lovely trails that seem to go on forever along the river that winds its way through Pamplona. The path regularly passes coffee houses selling delicious pastries, so I would not say Peter is exactly “roughing it.” I wander the streets, getting slightly lost, until I discover I have walked in a giant circle and am back where I started.
And everywhere we go, we see dogs.
I’ve always been a dog lover, but I’ve been noticing dogs more than usual since my own dog, Milo, died in September. I adopted Milo shortly after my divorce, and losing him was hard. He was a “pound puppy,” a black and white dog with spots on his nose.
He loved meeting new people and visiting new places and was a perfect pet for a newly-divorced woman who wasn’t sure what was going to happen next in her life.
I readily admit that traveling without Milo at home — always worrying about how he’s doing — is easier, but every dog I see pulls at my heartstrings a bit. And in Spain, there are dogs everywhere.
Dogs roam alongside their owners as they walk the trails, dogs walk politely down our cobblestone street. There is at least one dog at every outdoor café, patiently waiting for the inevitable tidbit to fall.
Outside every store there is usually a dog tied up, looking slightly offended that it is not allowed inside. There are tiny purse dogs (one riding the handlebars of a motorized scooter) and packs of large friendly dogs.
There are even three small dogs, carved in alabaster, lying at the feet of King Carlos III and his wife Leonor on their mausoleum in Pamplona’s cathedral. And every dog makes me think of Milo.
So, it was almost a relief to not be constantly surrounded by dogs when Peter and I got on a bus and traveled over the Pyrenees to hike a portion of the Camino de Santiago, hiking for three days over the mountains and back to our little home-away-from-home in Pamplona.
Toward the end of the second day, I had a stone in my shoe and, looking for a spot to remove it, I spotted a bench. Just as I sat down, a dog came running towards me.
Thundering across the field was a black and white dog, a dog that looked so much like Milo it made my heart lurch. He ran straight up to me and promptly dropped his head on my lap and looked up at me.
“Okay.” I pet him for a while and then I stopped. He poked me with his black and white spotted nose in precisely the way Milo would when he was similarly neglected.
We sat like that for quite a while, after the stone was out of my shoe, after I had seen this dog was clearly well-cared for, with a brass plate on a hand-tooled leather collar stating his owner’s name and address. I do not know the dog’s name.
But I know he did me a great favor that day. He recognized me — from all the way across a field — he recognized me as someone who might need a black and white dog, a dog who loved to meet new people and be petted. He knew a soft heart when he saw one and — from across the field — he came running.
Till next time,
Visit Carrie’s website www. CarrieClasson.com to drop her a line or for the latest news.