Today's dog park tale....
I could tell they were new to the dog park before they even got there: bounding down the street, two pre-teenage boys looking like Italian war refugees from World War II with perfectly combed and parted black hair, neat white shirts tucked into black pants. They let their bouncy black lab puppy pull the lead. Trailing behind was their father, an amiable-looking chap in the standard blue windbreaker of the service industry, wearing a big grin and the kind of exuberance you rarely see in any of the usual dog parkers.
They caught my eye because they seemed slightly out of place, and I anticipated their fumbling over the eccentric and faulty latch on the fence, briefly leaving the gate open. Ever since Coney's accident, I am like a hawk watching out for possible gate openings and chances for bad meetings with cars.
I was correct about their puzzlement over the latch, but C. was too excited about the black lab puppy to escape, and off the two dogs romped. The boys romped after them, shouting to each other breathlessly in both Italian and English. I wondered why they weren't in school.
Per custom, we exchanged details about our dogs with the man in the windbreaker. The man spoke in a heavy Milanese accent (note: I have no idea what a Milanese accent sounds like, I'm just trying to sound literary. I could have said, "He sounded like Chico Marx", but that'd be bad).
After some gushing banter about how great each other's pups were, the man leaned in and lowered his voice. "These boys...they don't know. Two weeks ago I was walking their puppy, and he got loose from the leash...he ran out into the street and got hit by a car and died..."
Now I was pretty sleepy this morning, and not quite thinking straight, but I thought for sure his next words were going to be, "And that there is a little GHOST PUPPY!" But he didn't. He continued:
"... So I go to North Shore and I am so lucky! I find a dog who looks just like the old puppy! The boys, they never suspect!"
I looked over at the boys, running in circles around the newly-bonded dogs, laughing and playing and seeming much younger than their American counterparts. I wondered if the truth about their beloved pet would ever catch up with them, or if this was something that only we, complete strangers, would know.
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