It’s such a delight to encounter my favorite walking companion, Fillmore. He lives about a mile away and I never know if he’ll be in the yard or out on the porch when I walk by. I can’t help but laugh when I see him! He comes running to greet me, his eager brown eyes peering out from under his charming mop of hair and his whole body bouncing with enthusiasm- including his tongue. He leans into me affectionately as I pet him and ruffle up his tangled coat, which hangs in yarn like tendrils from his sides.

He is always in various stages of cleanliness. He had accompanied me home a few times before I met his kind person, who told me that Fillmore routinely visits other neighbors and I needn’t give him a ride home anymore; he knows his way around! So, I simply get to enjoy his endearing messiness and his enthusiastic companionship on my walk home along the ditch.

The tips of the Cottonwood trees lining the ditch path now have gleaming golden leaves and the weeds lining the path have reached their full capacity, creating a tangle along the edges. Fillmore likes to trot alongside me with his nose to the dusty path, sniffing everything and then falling behind my steady strides. I hear his pattering feet thundering to catch up and he passes me, a mess of flying hair and scattering dirt. He always stops not far away, turning to look at me quizzically. He wants to make sure I’m coming, his eyes catching mine under the fringe of bangs. I smile. “Yes I’m coming.” He likes my company too.

I love how the ends of his twirled hair swing back and forth like a dusty skirt as he trots along. He must be impossible to keep clean. Soon he needs a drink and simply pushes himself down through the weeds, alighting in the ditch and doing a little swimming while lapping up the water. Of course, when he gets out he stands right next to me to shake off his sopping wet coat of muddy hair! No matter, he is gleaming with infectious happiness. We wind along together in content silence towards my house, the sun warming us both. It seems like such a simple thing to walk together, but my friend Fillmore gives me a gift every time he accompanies me. It’s the gift of having my heart opened to irresistible joy.