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30th October

My unexpected companion

On my walk through a mountainous landscape in Asturias in the north of Spain, I passed by a small hamlet of barely six houses. Out of nowhere, a dog jumped from a porch and joined me. He looked like a Border Collie but had golden, somewhat ruffled fur and kind, amber eyes. I expected him to accompany me until I left the hamlet, but he stayed with me even when I continued my hike uphill.


My new buddy walked in a brisk almost cheerful gait; sometimes he’d lag a bit behind, sniffing at the grass or running ahead to a tree to leave his mark. But he would always come back.

When I gently stroked him, he nuzzled his head closer to my hand, just as our dog Lucy does.


Each time I’d tell him where we’d be going, to the shed where the wood was stacked, to the bend in the trail with the bushes, to the little stream that cascaded from the mountains, he looked back at me as if he agreed.    


When I pointed to the clouds hanging low in the valley like a wool blanket, he seemed to follow my gaze.


I was struck by his friendly and content expression, as if he too were thoroughly enjoying our walk together. He strutted beside me naturally, as if we’d known each other for years. This moved me—and I was actually a bit flattered that he had chosen me as his companion.


After an hour, on our way back I led him into the hamlet where we had met and he quickly disappeared. When I greeted one of the villagers, an elderly man leaning on a cane, he told me that the dog—a Basque shepherd- walks with passersby all the time. “He’s just bored, there’s nothing to do here,” he said.


I was one of many and only good to break the tedium of a far too quiet life, but that didn’t change my feelings. I was still convinced that the bond between the dog and me went deeper than the one he had with others he’d gone for a walk with.


A frowzy dog from a mountain village made me feel special. I’m not sure if that means that I’m open to whatever comes my way or that I project my emotional needs into situations I encounter. Whatever it is, I’m sure my unexpected companion doesn’t care in the least.

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