Friday, February 4, 2011

Cane Man

He has a heavy limp that borders on hobbling. The leg with the least damage is the understudy to his cane, but he tries not to overburden any of his limbs with his full body weight, lest he do more damage or lose balance. It's painful to watch him walk, but walk he must. His heart and doctor demand it.

The other day my doctor asked me if I was getting any exercise for my heart. "Yes. I have a dog, now. He has three jobs; he forces me to move no matter how much pain I'm in, keeps me company and gets me outside for a little human contact. Better than a gym membership."

This soft spoken, slender, calm, Indian man--who so utterly lacks pomposity that he won't even post his degrees on his office wall--gave me a look of skepticism that would shrivel a grape into a raisin in an instant. Though I've done nothing outright careless, I can easily consume half a pound of sugar in a week. I walk a mile or two a day, but to give my doc credit it isn't exactly aerobic. He further showed his lack of faith in me by scheduling glucose and cholesterol tests.

The man with the cane has an unruly, frisky and overly sociable collie puppy. Whenever our dogs spot each other, they both get wound up into a state of glee one usually only sees in game show contestants. It's a struggle for both of us sore and/or disabled humans to keep our footing. I have arthritis in my lower back and hips (my "buttritis"), but I'm still slightly less likely to fall and break something so I always offer to hold both dogs until the jubilation fades to that of lottery winners.

Yesterday the man with the cane said, "Eh. I just need to get him some training. He'll pull me right over if I don't. Meantime, I don't want him hurting you." I learned his cane is the result of a knee injury sustained while he was in boot camp, that wasn't tended to properly. His pension is small, but thankfully supplemented by disability insurance.

He thinks the breeder who sold him his dog lied about the pedigree, and lied about giving proper shots and medications to their sale pups before foisting them on new owners. He had to start all over with rabies, kennel cough, etc. and found out later his puppy had worms. By the time he knew the extent of the expense, he was deeply in love with the dog. There was no going back.

I learned he despises people who aren't nice to cashiers at grocery stores. He doesn't like onions. Some day he hopes to start his own business, doing what? He doesn't know. And his rent is too darned high.

This was all disclosed to me after I'd suggested we walk along together to see if that would calm the dogs, and it did! A miracle. We almost made some serious headway before a third dog bounded into view. We quickly decided to part ways or risk being knocked over and trampled to death by a hairy, wiggly, slobbering mass of joy.


  1. Made me smile, which I haven't done all day.

  2. Thank you and you're welcome in that order and again in reverse.