6:15 a.m. on a Saturday. My local Starbucks is empty, save for two baristas behind the counter and a clutch of old coots, man-spread across the cushiest seats in the store.
Just shy of the entrance, an elderly dog rests on a makeshift bed. His leash is tethered to a sycamore tree. My heart pangs for the grizzled pooch, left to fend for himself on this near-dark morning. Laughter wafts through the thick glass doors. He stares mournfully into his water dish, whimpers slightly.
Wonder if he’d let me pet him?
I extend my hand, but then…the dog starts licking his private parts. As canines do.
I wrinkle my nose, ever so slightly, and scurry into the coffee shop. “Latte please,” I say.
Loud chatter becomes stage whispers. Rheumy eyes are fixed on me. I’m pretending not to notice, tra la la, scrolling through text messages while my coffee’s brewing.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch another customer approach the door. He’s wearing paint-spattered clothes, steel-toed shoes and a baseball cap. Aforementioned dog–who’s apparently finished his morning hygiene–peers up at the man with soulful eyes. Painter guy squats down to pet him, and the dog licks and licks and licks his beaming face. Just a boy and a dog…oblivious to anything that came before, basking in the joys of this singular moment.