Avanti had recently implemented a wonderful new program called “Fuzzy Friends Are Welcome,” where you could bring your pet to live with you if you were still fully able to care for it. As a pet-friendly community, they offered convenient outdoor doggie stations on manicured lawn areas, water, toys and yes—you guessed it–and endless supply of poop bags to pick up after your pet. Residents were encouraged to walk the beautiful grounds—perfect for dog strolls and/or jump on the Avanti Private Shuttle and head to a nearby dog park whenever one felt like it.
It was Day 2 since Wes’ son brought “Lucky” back for him to keep. Lucky was about 10 years old, a mix of Beagle and Corgi with an all white “senior” face. This dog absolutely loved Wes and Wes absolutely loved Lucky. And after months of hearing Wes talk so lovingly about his beloved dog, it was truly a joy to see this “dynamic duo” back together again at Avanti.
Early this morning my Avanti Tablet lit up like a Christmas tree with messages from Wes to please be his “date” at the dog park today. I texted back “yes,” donned my sneakers, grabbed by purse and headed out the door.
What an adorable sight to behold! There was Wes in his motorized wheelchair coming my way. He was walking Lucky who was having trouble keeping a straight line, because every couple of seconds he would look up at his “Daddy” with those big brown eyes and shake his tail so hard with excitement his whole body practically started dancing and he’d lose his balance and sort of flop over in glee.
“Up, up and up,” said Wes as Lucky tried his best to jump into his Dad’s lap, but it was not working. See, Lucky, well had been lucky in life: overfed and overloved. His belly scraped the ground as he walked and there was no way he could possibly jump up six inches from the floor—let alone about three feet into the air to make it into Wes’ lap.
I scooped up Lucky and handed him to Wes. Gotta love our pet-friendly community.
“Thank you. You look beautiful today, Darlene,” said Wes.
I love it when Wes compliments me. It feels like a rain of confidence washes over my whole body and for moments I feel young again. I bent over and kissed Wes on the forehead and then patted Lucky with my hand.
“Thank you, sweet man,” I said.
Wes, grabbed my other hand and kissed it.
We boarded the fancy Avanti Shuttle and headed out for The Sawdust Dog Park, about a 2 mile drive from where we lived.
When we arrived, Lucky was already excitedly barking—he could see and hear the other dogs at the dog park through the van’s tinted windows.
William helped us out of the van and into the dog park and brought us three water bottles (one for Lucky too). He sat us under a shady oak tree near the entrance gate so we wouldn’t have to walk too far.
Wes unhooked Lucky’s leash and watched with tears of joy as his furry friend bolted to the outer rim of the park, his low-hanging belly barely clearing the ground underneath it. He was ecstatic—running with the other dogs in a pack, and then every few minutes looking in Wes’ direction making sure his beloved “pet parent” was still there. Once assured, he’d run some more. Then he’d take a break. He was an older dog and needed rest after these spastic-like spurts of liveliness.
Wes was really loving watching Lucky. He kept hooting and hollering every time Lucky rounded a corner or could be seen near the head of the pack. I couldn’t help but feel this exhilarating energy too as all the dogs were off leash and running so wild and free. It was such a joy to watch. Then, suddenly, Lucky broke from the herd and went the opposite direction.
“Oh boy, there he goes,” said Wes in a hushed and fatherly tone.
We watched as Lucky found a quieter part of the dog park and sniffed out a spot to relieve himself. It’s always one of the funniest moments in life to me—to see an animal doing his or her “business” while looking over their shoulder to you.
I grabbed the plastic poop bag William had kindly given us from my purse and walked beside Wes. He was already rolling towards Lucky’s “area”. We kept some distance to give Lucky his privacy, but were close enough to let other dog owners know we knew what to do—how to pick up after our dog.
As Lucky “finished” his business I walked right over and scooped up the poop with the bag by first inverting it. Then I tied the bag up with a knot. Wes looked at me with an expression I’ll never forget.
“I love you,” he said quite matter of a factly.
“What?” I said holding the bag as far from me as physically possible.
“Before I could even try to figure out how I was going to scoop the poop from my wheelchair, you were there doing it for me and with such skill and confidence,” Wes declared as he cracked his signature smile.
“Marry me?” he said grabbing my free hand.
“What?” I said still holding the bag as far from me as physically possible.
“Marry me Darlene!” said Wes. “You, Lucky and I could be a family. Our home…Avanti.”
And just like that I had been proposed to while carrying a bag of fresh, warm dog poop. Not the kind of proposal I had imagined in my dreams, but at this age I’ll take it!
“Yes!” I said to Wes as I flung the bag of poop into the trash can behind my betrothed (I made the shot!).
I hugged him tight.
I wasn’t sure if Wes was serious or not, but it was fun to be proposed to nonetheless, and, even more fun to “accept.” We were just two sweet old dogs running free with reckless abandon…feeling loved and taken care of “off campus” today at Avanti’s pet-friendly community.