I have many stories to tell from the last week or so. but as I am not always one to follow chronological order, I'll start with the end, and Joseph.
on our way to the restaurant, we passed him. he was sitting on a bench, obviously one of Boulder's many homeless. he commented on how beautiful TheDog is and gave her a few pats as we passed. we said thanks, and wished him a happy day.
as we sat on the patio trading silly stories, he walked past. stopped. and returned to pet TheDog. again exclaiming what a beautiful dog she is.
his name was Joseph, and he started to tell us that he missed his dogs. he had five. most were still with his ex-wife and ex-car.
he began to tell us a story of his 230 pound, St. Bernard and Great Dane mix named Namath. (yes, after Joe.)
one night, Joseph stopped at a bar for a quick drink. when he left, some surly individuals followed him out to his truck. but before he could reach it they began to stir things up a bit. he couldn't get to his gun in his glove box.
he called to Namath. Namath simply stood up in the back of the truck, and the surly individuals took one look at the gigantic dog, and retreated. that night Joseph bought Namath a steak, in appreciation of the dog saving his life.
Joseph also told us of the difficulty with which he had his loyal companion, Namath, put down at the age of 13. how hard it had been for him. and how he asked to have him cremated and kept his ashes, still.
he is now homeless. he lives in a tent in the park at the base of the Flatirons. he has a fox for a friend. her name is Foxy Lady. he had a moose for a friend. his name was Bullwinkle.
Bullwinkle stopped coming around. Joseph asked the park ranger if they had seen him. they told Joseph he had been shot by a poacher. Joseph asked if the caught the man that did it. they hadn't. they only had a truck type and color.
Joseph took it upon himself to hunt the truck down. he confronted the guy. asked him if he enjoyed being a poacher. the man stood, a much larger man than Joseph, and asked Joseph what he was going to do about it.
as Joseph began to shrink away, the park rangers walked up behind him. the poacher was sentenced to five years in jail.
Joseph, apparently out of stories for the moment, asked if we had licenses to be so beautiful. we laughed.
he apologized for continuing to talk even after our dinners came. we told him to not worry, asked if he needed anything. he insisted he didn't need anything. he had everything he needed.
and then with tears in his eyes, Joseph told us that although he was tough, (after all, he served his country in two tours of duty), he missed his dogs. terribly.
then with a few more pets for my beautiful blonde dog, he wished us a long and happy life. and walked up the hill.
I know the profound affect my dog has had on me. but it was so incredibly touching to see this older, homeless man shed a few tears for his departed friends. he neither wanted nor needed anything from us. except maybe someone to listen to his stories.
sometimes in the face of all the chaos that life has become, particularly recently, just listening to another tell their story is perhaps the most generous gift we can give another.
Joseph, I wish you a long and happy life, and I hope more Namaths and Bullwinkles and thirty-something women have the great privilege of hearing your stories and knowing you, if even for a brief moment.