The Short Walk Home

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My neighborhood looks quaint and congenial, but after four years, I had given up on loving it. ,  I knew only my most immediate neighbors and the rest seemed too busy, unfriendly, or too distracted to return a greeting. Maybe it’s because many people are here for their kids’ education and without a child, I don’t fit.

About the same time I was ready to give up on the dog my husband and I had recently adopted from the shelter. While the four-year-old boxer we named Betty was sweet to her core and great with our cats, her list of “won’t do that” had grown until it began with “won’t leave the yard.” 

For almost a month, for hours each week, she and I stood in the driveway. I loitered at the street end of the leash while Betty leaned toward the house on the other end. After a while, people became curious about us.

I’d never realized how many dogs live in my neighborhood until my month of chatting with dog people in the driveway. They became smitten with shy Betty and conspired to woo her each in their own way. My neighbors with their fox-like dog eventually charmed Betty into following them around the block. My neighbor and her two exuberant Springer Spaniels at first seemed too loud and chaotic for our nervous girl. But while I petted her dogs, she swooned over Betty, kissing her nose and plying her with kosher organic dog crackers, thus becoming Betty’s Fairy Dog Mother. The woman who comes and goes to yoga gently calls Betty’s name as she walks toward us and crouches to Betty’s level for a proper full wag greeting.

Betty will usually venture around the block now. Despite her limitations, she has expanded our connection to many of our neighbors and their kindness. I’m glad we didn’t give up on her. And we’re enjoying the community she helped us find here.


With a Perspective, this is Blaze Farrar.

Blaze Farrar works in the University of California, Office of the President. She lives in Alameda.