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9d6b671a6cd3f1aaa10ce7071129e9dfOn my walk home today I met a man and his dog. He was doing the thing that responsible dog owners do and picking up his dog’s business while she nosed around in the sand and then rolled happily in some smell or another. As she did so I smiled and said to him something about hoping it wasn’t a particularly vile thing she was rolling in. He laughed.

“She does that right after I bath her, too.”

“Is she a mum?” I ask as she writhes now on freshly mowed grass – at least that smells good. I had noticed her swollen teats as she rolled blissfully about

“Yeah, ten puppies, here let me show you a picture!”

“Ten! oh my goodness!” No wonder dog was enjoying herself outdoors.

The sheer joy and pride he took in showing off her babies to me was endearing. We chatted a little about how hard it was to find a place to live that allowed dogs – which these days is basically nowhere unless you own your own place. Mama dog nosed me, but she wasn’t really all that interested in anything but rolling in some more dirt.

I had been feeling a little flattened out, depressed even for the last little while, but seeing the simple joy he took in his pet, who obviously adored him right back, made me feel better.

I think it’s easy to lose sight of the simple things in life – which are often the more important ones: moments like that one where he could share his joy with someone else and not be afraid. There was nothing else, just a man and his dog and me sharing in his adoration of her and her puppies.

These days people are so caught up in things they have no control over, bigger things that are far too vast to deal with: global warming, electing Trump or not, Syrian refugees, war, bombings, economic collapse you name it. All these things are important, but we forget that half our problems start with something as simple as how we treat others.

No one ever had to teach me to feel empathy or compassion. I had an over abundance of it as a child in fact, which caused my mother some worry, and some laughter. (I wouldn’t eat baby carrots because it was mean, and went so far as to ‘rescue’ them by hiding them in weird places where I’d forget them until mom unearthed them.) But I had a hard time learning that compassion could cost me, and that I needed to have some for myself, to find a balance.

It was nice to be reminded that it is the simple things that help you get there.