When the weather is very windy, I don't take Nero through the woods because: yanno, hyperactive imagination and fallen branches. Instead we go to the park and if it's quiet (ie dog and deer free), he gets to slip off his lead and go for a wild run in the wide expanse of green.
A couple of days ago it was one of those BOTH days and I opted to take him for a quick walk around the football pitch and home. We were leaving the park when Nero looked up the road, up the hill. His ears were pricked and forward, the way he is when he sees a *whisper it* cat.
But there were no cats to be seen. I scanned the pavements and the bushes - no deer, no cats. Only a man wearing a parka with the hood up, hands deep in his pockets, walking towards us down the hill, quite some distance away.
I tugged at Nero's lead and urged him across the road. He was not for budging. His tail started wagging hard, whipping me in the legs. He began to get quite animated too, having a bit of a yelp and clearly terribly excited...
...to see this man in the Parka.
"I'm really sorry!" I called out as the bemused stranger grew closer. "My dog thinks that he knows you!"
The man nodded and I dragged the still waggy-tailed Nero off across the road.
The man went into the little toilet block on the edge of the park. Nero stood on the opposite pavement, nose quivering, ears forward, tail wagging and whining, never taking his eyes off the door where the man had disappeared.
And I felt happy and sad.
Happy that my dog clearly loved someone in his former life as a racing greyhound so much that he was THRILLED to see him.
Happy that through the fog of at least two years (a year with us, a year in kennels) this parka-clad figure emerged as a lovely memory for him.
Sad, because he is never that excited or animated to see any of us as he was to see that stranger in the Parka jacket.
Dogs have memories.