We meander, me and Boo, along the beach in a looping walk from the deep grey ocean to the beach edge where the bamboo umbrellas have splintered into the sand, to the volley ball net with the rusty poles, to the mountain of flip flops – washed up and piled up.
We wind around the beach shack cafes and into the lanes of An Bang. Taking our time over blades of grass growing out of the walls and broken down home-stays, wrecked by typhoons and crumbling in Covid times.
We meet no tourists, no expats, no beach sellers or backpackers. I wave at fishermen sitting straight backed, legs stretched in front of them on their doorsteps as they stitch their fishing nets back together. I wave and they wave back – no privacy here just gentle smiles and inclusion.
Boo doesn’t pull or bark, just keeps my pace as we both remember to look at the path in front of us, beside us, sometimes circling back behind us. We are wrapped in warm coats- hers fur – mine canvas. The rain doesn’t bother us, or the cement grey skies. She smells the air, reminding me to do the same.
So this is what it is to have a dog.
Quiet companionship and discovering things together. If I was more of an egoist I would wonder at the luck of having a daydreaming dog. But I know when we walk with my kids later Boo will bubble with enthusiasm and fun – just like my girls.
For now I enjoy our slow walk even though my hips sing with pain. Looking out at the sky this morning my heart sank and I began to question why I’ve taken on this task, knowing I will be the one that does the walking and the caring, knowing there is no pause with a dog.
Thank God I have, thank God I am forced to walk in the rain as well as the sun – when I’m in pain as well as pain free.
Because this slow walk has loosened my pain, the solid stone of it has cracked and little pieces of rubble shake out, easing my hips as well as my heart.
As we walk around my village, waving at our neighbours and breathing in the ocean, I say thank you. Thank you for all this and thank you for this blessed life.