We were at a dog show last weekend, reminiscing with a friend about Great Dogs of Blessed Memory.
And I can never think of those stalwarts without thinking about the man I met one afternoon when I was walking my dog in Tours, France, where we lived at the time.
“C’est un Schnauzer!”* the elderly gentleman said as he passed Loki and me.
“Oui,” I replied, surprised that a Tourangeau** would recognize my dog’s breed. People were always stopping us, and saying “what breed is that?” or “is that a Fox Terrier?” so to have someone in Tours recognize Loki’s breed was unexpected. (We later learned that Standard Schnauzers are more familiar to Parisians.)
Loki trotted up to Monsieur and greeted him.
Monsieur gave him a warm welcome. “I used to have Schnauzers,” he said, scratching Loki on the back. “I had a very old one; he was blind, and every morning I had to walk him down the stairs into the yard, because he couldn’t see to get down them by himself.
“I got a puppy,” and here he gave me the puppy’s complete pedigree, while I nodded as if I knew the kennel names and recognized the excellence of the bloodlines. “When I brought the puppy home, I was worried about the old dog, because puppies can be rough, and the old dog was blind and very old and perhaps not much of a match for a youngster. But they seemed to get on well together.
“One day I got up to take the old dog down the stairs to the yard, and I couldn’t find him. The puppy was also not in the house. I looked in the yard, and they both were there. The puppy had taken the old blind dog down the stairs to the yard.
“And after that, every morning until he died, the old dog went down the stairs to the yard with his puppy leading him.”
Monsieur petted Loki some more and pronounced him “magnifique.” We chatted about what good dogs Schnauzers are, and then Monsieur took his leave, thanking me for the good memories we had inspired, and leaving me with my own good memories.
*“It’s a Schnauzer!”**Resident of the city of Tours.