Absence makes my heart grow fonder of my grand-dog Lily. I didn’t realize the depth of my affection until my daughter Ruth emailed a week ago Friday. “Want to meet us at the dog park tomorrow morning?”

I glanced at October 16 on my desk calendar. Wide open. “What time?”


I’d been curious about the Orion Oaks Dog Park from the day a friend said, “Amy loves to play on the beach and jump off the dock.” A longtime cat owner, I had no occasion to visit the park.

Until Lily came along.

Ruth soon found their “heaven on earth,” a 24-acre plot with a spacious parking lot, paddocks (one for small dogs), woods, trails, lake, picnic shelters, hose to spray dirty dogs, and clean bathrooms for humans. Only twenty minutes from home on Joslyn Road.

A beautiful fall morning, I spied Ruth’s blue sweatshirt within a ring of fellow canine owners of all ages. She held a coffee cup while tracking Lily’s red collar and other dogs chasing one another willy-nilly in and out of the circle.

I hollered for Lily. She raced toward me with a stick in her mouth. After two months of no Lily time, she still recognized my voice. I could’ve cried.

In a tangle of black lab muzzles and paws, Lily and her best buddy Layla blind-sided me. But I didn’t go down.

“Mom, don’t lock your knees. Bend them, or you’ll fall,” Ruth said.

To observe numerous dogs of all breeds play in one communal space is to witness much sniffing, stick stealing, barking, ball fetching, and conversations between adults who stand with bent knees.

Although I cherish the quiet, low-impact companionship of our two cats, and appreciate our mouse-free house, Mittens and Cuddles suddenly seemed boring. Especially when Ruth and I walked a trail with Lily and Layla. They disappeared into the woods and returned with twigs clenched between their teeth. More trophies.

“Lily’s such a sweetheart,” Ruth said.

“I’d forgotten how much fun a dog can be,” I confessed.

We passed a young couple with two Great Danes. Lily and Layla, both one year old, aimed for the leggy Danes.

“This is our first time here,” the man said.

“We just moved from Connecticut,” said the woman. “This place is amazing.”

Yesterday, a week later, I emailed Ruth. “Going to the dog park tomorrow morning?”

“Yes. You coming?”

“What time?”

“I’ll call when I leave for the park.”

Lily and Layla didn’t notice a sparser crowd this damp, chilly morning at Orion Oaks. They rolled and growled and chewed each other’s ears just the same.

Dear Reader, this time of year on Saturday mornings in the early ’nineties, I followed Ruth on cross country courses when she competed for Romeo Schools. Fellow parents cheered on our girls to the finish line.

Nowadays, whenever Ruth calls a Saturday morning, I’m gone to the dog park. For Ruth’s and Lily’s presence also makes my heart grow fonder of my daughter and grand-dog.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.