I’m holding hands with my husband in Porto, one of the most romantic cities in the world. We are strolling along with bellies full of wine and heads full of that fogginess you get when you are somewhere new.
A car honks and I turn to see a black dog crossing the street, a bag dangling from his mouth. And I don’t know if somebody gave it to him, and I don’t know if this is how he gets his dinner, and I don’t know if he has a home. All I know as I watch him is that he’s a pro at opening up a plastic bag in search of food. I know that he is alone.
His snout is white; he is old. And he runs to me like a friend I used to know when I call him over, when I drop my husband’s hand so that I can touch this sweet boy. My lastima-meter goes from zero to a billion as he rubs his thin face against my body and kisses my wrists. His eyes are so gentle. And he is tender and he is good. And I want to take him home.
I remove the belt of my coat hoping to make it a leash, hoping I will give this pup a better life, one with no more cars to dart through and no more scavenging and no more roaming. I can picture him in my bed in Los Angeles, snuggled and safe. I wish on every star that I can take this Portuguese dog home!
And as I look around for someone to claim him, I am met with only shrugs. And as I beg for him to follow me, whispering my undying love into his velvet ears, he leaves. He runs off despite my calling, despite my promises, despite my questions. And despite my husband’s hand reaching for mine again, I’m not sure I can go on with my vacation. Because I am still pulling my belt-leash behind. There’s no dog on the other end, but it’s not empty either - I am tugging my lastima along. And it’s so heavy.
p.s. Wherever you go, wherever you are: old dogs need warmth and oh-so-much love.
p.p. s. We did have a great trip, you guys, I’m not 100% downer!