I stand in front of a restaurant near the Boston Commons waiting for the people I’m with to emerge with sandwiches. I hold Page’s leash and we both watch the throngs of people walk by the in beautiful, sunny weather. Dozens of languages echo off the sides of the buildings along the narrow street. An Asian girl with red-dyed hair spiked into a four-inch wedge parks her bike on the edge of the park and wanders onto the grass. A black woman wearing a shimmering purple dress and glossy purple high-heels walks past looking like she should be making a dash between her limo and a posh night club, rather than tapping down the red brick street in the middle of the afternoon. A older, middle-eastern couple stop in front of me. “May I pet your dog?” The man asks, holding his gnarled hands out. I tell him yes, he’d love it. Page is already moving over toward the man. The old man smiles as his fingers tickle Page’s ears and Page leans into him. When the man is done he thanks me and rejoins his wife down the block.
Greyhounds love people, I’m finding. They will calmly walk over to any extended hand. And there are a lot of hands to greet him. I had a tough-looking, leather-clad guy ask if he could pet him, with a child-like joy gleaming in his eyes. There have been homeless people offering him treats (which I decline) and a group of college-age women stop and take pictures of him. I had a no-nonsense security guard gush to me about the greyhounds he’s owned. We had a twenty-minute conversation about his dogs, the things they used to do together and loss to cancer. These are people who I would never have met had it not been for Page.
The highlight comes a bit later when a ragged couple stops us on the street with another offer of treats for the dog. I politely refuse. They begin telling us about the greyhounds they used to race. The man then pulls out a bag of balloons and twists up a balloon dog. With a flourish of his fingers he, almost magically, twists the tip of the balloon off and presses it inside the balloon-dog’s abdomen to make it “pregnant.” We stand, staring at the creation in amazement as he hands it to my friend Fumi.
I admit, I was resistant to getting a dog at first, afraid that it would hinder my ability to travel freely. As the couple waves and walks away, however, I understand how wrong I was. Page is a great traveler. He loves going places as much as I do, pulling me toward the car every time we go out for a walk. Though I won’t be able to take him on all of my travels, the trips I do will be filled with new connections with people, as he brings down all of our walls with a casual lean and a scratch.