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How My Dog Inspired Me to Renew Old Friendships

An unlikely setting provides the realization of what new, good habit must be practiced in the new year, and the next.

Edward Grinnan with his dog, Gracie.
Credit: Katye Martens Brier
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It’s funny. Sometimes a good, new habit finds you, right out of the blue. Something you wouldn’t have thought of on your own but suddenly you know you must do and must make it a new habit going forward. In this case, to renew old friendships.

Today was an unusually warm day for the week of Thanksgiving. I was in the city with Gracie to see a few friends for the holiday. I had the afternoon free and promised Gracie a long, aimless walk through our Chelsea neighborhood after we did errands at the post office and the bank. She loves errands.

Visiting Old Haunts

My golden appreciates the bustle of the city as a change of pace from the solitude of the country. We stopped at a few of our old haunts we hadn’t visited since before the pandemic. Amazing how Gracie still remembers all the business owners who have a treat behind the counter for her. “Hey, it’s Gracie! Welcome back!”

We ended up at the Chelsea Waterside Dog Run, along the Hudson River. By now the sun was skipping rays off the water after having made its ever briefer appearance in the sky. Winter loomed.

To our surprise, the dog run had undergone a big reno since our last visit some four years ago. A nice soft surface, some colorful artificial hillocks, a little plastic stream. It was now divided in two, with an area for small dogs and one for big dogs, designated by weight. We accidentally blundered into the wrong area where all the little dogs gathered around Gracie like she was Gulliver. Finally, I got her into the big dog section.

Finding an Old Friend

Gracie politely but perfunctorily greeted the few dogs that were present. I wondered if any of her old friends, the ones she had bonded with so closely as a puppy, were still around. Things had changed so much in the last few difficult years. I sat down and stared at a tour boat gliding upriver, Gracie at my feet.

The dog run gate clattered as a new dog and his owner entered. Gracie sprang up. Across the space the two dogs’ eyes met. Could it really be? Was this really Jazz, a Great Pyrenees that Gracie had gown up with? Jazz, her old dog run pal?

They bounded toward each other and met atop the hillock in the middle, bumping and wrestling, then they were off, running and chasing and barking gleefully.

Starting in the New Year

I watched as they played and renewed their friendship. It struck me then. Why couldn’t I do that? Renew old friendships that had fallen by the wayside. I thought about it. I would start in the new year. Easily at first. I’d commit to just finding one old friend and restarting the friendship, whatever the reason it ended. I’d make a yearly habit of it. Imagine the goodness that would be brought back into my life over time. Making new friends by reaching out to old ones, friendships I’d let lapse.

God brings people into our lives for a reason. Renewing those lapsed friendships renews God’s gift. Watching Gracie and Jazz cavort, I couldn’t imagine a better habit to form. The habit of friendship.

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