Many of us have daily routines, but something I only realized recently is how often our routines are shaped by things we don’t control. I like to think I set my own routine but circumstances help shape it. This occurred to me when my afternoon walk home from the bus stop changed. Every day for years I walked by a neighbor’s house that had a fenced front yard. And every day two dogs would come running up to the fence. They had their names stitched on their collars in bold letters so I knew they were called Major and Minnie. Major was a gray and white mix of, well, who knows, but at least part Boxer judging from his broad head and muzzle which I think makes Boxers look very thoughtful and distinguished. And Minnie was at least part Labrador retriever, but she was small and leggy with a splotch of white on her chest. I’d say hello as I went by. Major would whine at me and Minnie would bark and jump on him, clearly saying, “Play with ME!”
One day I walked up to the fence and they both stood up on their hind legs and wagged their tails. I didn’t put my hand through the fence—never, ever do that, kids—but I did put it up flat against the fence and let them sniff it. This made them happy although I’m not sure why.
A few years later a For Sale sign went up in the yard in front of the fence. I didn’t really think about it until the house was sold and one day as I went by Major and Minnie weren’t there. Then the new owners tore down the fence, and that’s when I realized that not only were my canine friends gone but there wouldn’t be any others to take their place. They weren’t my dogs and I only saw them for a few minutes a few days a week but they were part of my routine—a part I looked forward to. I missed them.
And then as I was passing another house I heard barking from the fenced in backyard. He’s some kind of Terrier mix and I have no idea what his name is, and I’m not going to cross someone’s yard to get close enough to let him sniff my hand, but we say hello to each other. We’ve become part of each others’ new daily routine.