Walking a dog, even someone else's dog, every morning has surprising benefits, chief among them socialization.
The kindness of a neighbor and her dog Panda eases Gracie into new territory: friendship with a previously unfamiliar canine. Yesterday, after previously barking at the same pair several times over the course of different days, we happened upon Panda and her human on our way to the lake. We were invited to walk along beside, at some distance, and Gracie was allowed to sniff Panda's markings, and Panda to sniff Gracie's. After an enthusiastically boisterous beginning, Gracie settled into a companionable stroll. Today, when we met them on their way home and on our way out, Panda and Gracie shared a lovely moment of rest while the humans chatted.
A bit later, as we crossed a Lake Cheston bridge, we encountered two students taking advantage of their late first class (11 AM), soaking in the sun and blue sky and strangely (uncomfortably so) warm weather. Instead of barking at the seated young women, as has been her wont in the past on encountering unknown people, Gracie wagged and wiggled and they giggled and stroked her and took cell photos. Then, about halfway to the dam, Gracie spotted her first slider (my first slider of the year) sunning on the fallen tree where they often are. Instead of charging full-out toward it, Gracie assumed a position and stared a good long time. Still later, at the dam, as a gaggle of children and parents approached, Gracie stopped, accepted their smiles, and then moved on.
Even the players at the baseball field were just other points of interest, for us both, and we headed home feeling happy to have made such good relaxed acquaintance with those along our way.