When walking Maní in Nicaragua, she’d sometimes get away from me. She’d get into a neighbor’s yard and run around, play with their dog, bark at their cat, stare at their horses, or chase their chickens. The whole family would laugh and help me chase and catch her. I’d introduce myself and they’d tell me a little about themselves. Maní and I would walk away lightheartedly as I cooed her and pulled her away on the leash.
When walking Maní in the States, she stays on the leash. It’s a long leash, though, and sometimes she gets away from me. Today my neighbor and I exchanged pleasantries. —Neighbors talking about the weather. I used to walk around La Dalia and do this with just about everyone I passed. I joke that when I started my service, it took me 15 minutes to walk between my home and the hospital. By the end, it took a half hour. And when I walked with Alma, it took us an hour and by the time we got home, we’d be stuffed with dinner and coffee.— And then Maní got away from me. She rolled in my neighbor’s dirt by the curb of the road. His dirt. He yells, get her away from there. I pull her leash close and apologize. Go away, he shouts again, closer this time. I’m working on it, I’m really sorry. And then Maní and I walked away in silence, hollow, stiff, and mortified.