I just spent an hour in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park hugging an enormous golden retriever—soft and gentle and boundlessly sweet—who’d mosied over to my blanket from his mom and dad’s. When I first noticed him he was wriggling in the grass, cycling his legs in the air, and I thought: that guy really knows how to enjoy a summer afternoon. They were a couple about ten years older than me, and something about the way he planted himself between them after he was done rolling around suggested they’d had him instead of kids. When the dog–honest to God, his name was Wrigley–approached me, I asked if it’d be ok to say hi and they said so long as I could “handle a snuggler.” I could, and the two of us sat together for a while, his torso leaning into mine until I just went ahead and wrapped my arms around his neck. Both of our noses twitched as we inhaled the good smells of 5 pm sunshine in the July grass, the barbecue the Korean family was cooking on the other side of the trees, and after a beat we began to match our breaths. Finally he nudged me with his head, and I took the hint and buried myself in his neck.
I love my cat beyond measure but there’s something so wonderful about a visit with the right dog. As the three of them were leaving, I said, “Oh, he’s such a nice person,” and the woman replied, a little conspicuously, “Well, he did used to work as a therapy dog.” Okay, lady.