As I wrote in my earlier blog, I walk early in the morning and expected my walks to be solitary. I was mistaken and encountered lots of activity during those hours. A lot of activity involves dogs. The first dog I met on my early morning walks was Phoebe, a large, aging, shaggy, caramel colored rescue dog who lives in one of the 300 villas on the old section of Hawthorne. Phoebe’s mistress, Anne, walks her at roughly the same time that I am out, and I frequently meet them either on Hawthorne itself or on Magnolia or Peartree. Phoebe is terribly afraid of strangers and still, after all this time, will not let me touch her. But she knows who I am, and if she sees me coming up behind her and Anne, she will set her feet and not move until I have caught up with her and said hello. Anne takes Phoebe on a long walk every morning, and on occasion I have seen them in front of The Fairways or on the golf course next to Appletree. Anne is the wife of a retired UNC professor, and expresses interest in my weekly trips each fall to New York City to teach a course at Columbia University. I like to think that Anne and I have become friends, even though I am not sure she knows my name.
Pearl is as eager to be petted as Phoebe is shy. Pearl is long, low, shaggy, and all black save for a white head. She is walked each morning by Dedra Stockton, the pet sitter who looks after our cat when we go to Paris. Pearl will all but roll over when I see her, waiting to be petted and scratched. Dedra also walks a pair of matched dachshunds named, I believe, Hansel and Gretel.
The dog with whom I have most intimately bonded is Bandit, an energetic little pug-nosed fellow who lives in a 100 villa at the base of the hill that leads to the Fairways. His master, Willie Thompson, first caught my attention because he walks each morning carrying a cup of coffee in one hand while he leads Bandit with the other. Bandit loves to be scratched behind his ears, and tugs on his leash to get to me as soon as he spots me. Willie graciously allows to be pulled over and, summer or winter, I give Bandit a scratch before we go our separate ways.
But the most concentrated assemblage of dogs is to be found on Appletree on the down slope leading to the sharp turn that takes you past the croquet court to the pond. Four or five dogs live in that stretch of 200 villas, and their mistresses meet each morning to greet one another while the dogs sniff one another curiously. I am sure many CM residents have noticed the striking white Standard Poodle, elegantly clipped, who has only three legs. Susie and I first met this dog in front of the Club Center shortly after it was adopted. Poodles, of course, have an elevated opinion of themselves, and this one does not socialize with the common run of Appletree dogs.
I have recently made the acquaintance of Luke, a middle-sized shorthaired dog who lives on Appletree, but even though I have said hello to him several times, he has not yet acknowledged my existence. Having described my early morning canine acquaintances, in my next blog I will describe the two-legged ones I’ve encountered.