The puppy was weak and scared - it takes a while to recover if you go two weeks without eating, and I didn't even want to imagine what he had encountered in his young life to make him so scared of venturing away from the house to the road.
But Charly was counting on our walk.
"C'mon, puppy, it'll be okay. I'll walk slow. I won't let anything happen."
He followed us along the road, very slowly, stopping every so often to rest. I waited with him, talked to him, explained our routines to him while Charly ventured off into the woods exploring, checking out his territory.
We did this every morning. Slowly he got stronger and braver, until he looked forward to the walks more than Charly, pouncing and playing with him, and sometimes dashing off alone into the woods after a rabbit or deer.
This morning, I was walking along, enjoying the mild weather, lost in my thoughts, when I realized I was all alone. The dogs had abandoned me, and Frankie, who I can usually count on to stick with me, had decided not to go on the walk today.
I almost turned around - what was the point? Oh, yeah...I skipped my run this morning, and since I had at least five hours of computer time ahead of me, I figured I better get SOME exercise and go all the way to the curve, even if everyone else had pooped out.
I hit the curve, turned around, and was halfway home when I came around a bend and saw Max down the road, sitting on his haunches facing me...this huge black dog sitting in the middle of the road, waiting. Charly was already turning around at the sight of me, and starting back toward the house. Frankie was skittering up to where Max sat - I guess he had changed his mind about the walk. They both waited until I was almost on them before turning around and heading home with me.
He was waiting for me, just like I waited for him.
"Thank you, Max. And Frankie."