As a student of human nature and someone who enjoys people-watching, I am fascinated by the way pets bring people together. Whether you’ve moved to a new city and are looking to make some new friends or you simply wish to expand your social network, one of the best ways to connect with others is to step out with your pet. Of course, this is ideal if you’re a dog owner. Whether it’s a visit to your local dog park or taking your pooch for a walk, you are sure to meet other dog owners and inevitably strike up conversations. Initially these conversations center on our pets.
It is this exact scenario through which I met Pat. I can’t recall the first time Pat and I actually spoke and introduced ourselves. But we first encountered each other one morning when Pat was walking her Maltese, Sam and I was walking my two Shih Tzus, Lucy and Ethel. It was an instant doggie love-fest. To describe Sam as adorable is an understatement. How could I not reach down to pat his head, scratch his bum and rub his tummy as he rolled over on his back exposing himself? Last year, Pat and her husband Larry expanded their family by bringing home a second Maltese named Sadie. Sam and Sadie make a perfect duo.
And so, on most mornings, Pat and I would meet on our respective dog walks and we would talk. I do not recall the substance of every conversation; however, I do remember a compliment that Pat once paid me. She looked me straight in the eye and said that Sam and Sadie clearly adored me and that was because I must be a good person. She believed (as I do) that dogs possess a heightened ability (far superior to humans) to sense authenticity and kindness in people.
Over the months, our conversations continued. On occasion, I had the opportunity to visit Pat and Larry at their home, and even walk Sam and Sadie. And through this all, my admiration and friendship for Pat and Larry grew. What most attracted me to Pat was her larger than life personality. She was a powerhouse! The kind of person you could never forget once you met her. Physically she was slight in stature with red hair, so visually she should stood out amongst others. But it was her personal demeanor that captured one’s attention. Her warmth and genuine kindness coupled with her high-pitched voice, sharp wit and one-of-a-kind laugh were magnets that would draw people to her. When she would see me, her face would light up. And my own heart would skip a beat with joy in anticipation of our conversation to come. While we always talked about our four-legged children, our conversations also broached other topics.
Last week, Pat passed away after a brief illness. I’ve wanted to post a tribute to Pat in my blog since then. However, every time I tried, the words would not come as I choked up with emotion and sadness enveloped me. Until now. The most fitting tribute I can offer to Pat’s life is that going forward, every time I walk my own dogs or my clients’ dogs or for that matter, place my hand on a kitty client or some other adorable pet and gently stroke its head, I will think of Pat and the indelible mark she left on me. She and I were like-minded. We met through our pets, we grew to admire each other and developed a “simpatico” of implicit understanding. It truly is amazing how pets bring people together and forever change our lives. The word “simpatico” best describes my friendship with Pat. Moreover, her name is embedded in the word.
May her memory be a blessing!