The Homeless Man in the Park

Monday through Friday, I take my one year old beagle, Ralph, for an early morning walk. If I forget, he will remind me. He will go get his leash and bring it to me. He is that smart. And, to be totally honest, I look forward to our early morning walks too. On Saturday mornings, however, we go for a walk at a nearby park. Lots of activity going on during Saturdays such as youth baseball, soccer, volleyball and people just walking for their heath. There is a paved walkway about a mile around. So, after two or three trips around this thing, people are usually had their exercise for the day.

But, since there is usually so much activity on Saturday, Ralph and I get up especially early (about 6:30AM) and go for our walk. Ralph insists on two trips around the park. I don't mind it because it does me good also. I tried jogging for a while last year. But, it just took too much out of me. So, I do my treadmill routine and go walking with Ralph.

Ralph is not your usual beagle. Most beagles are generally friendly toward people. Ralph is not that way. He has even snapped at people in my neighborhood who have tried to pet him. So, for that reason alone, I urge people not to try and pet Ralph. I've scolded him about it. But, Ralph is just Ralph. He's not likely to change. We had just made our second trip around the park when I decided to sit on one of the park benches to rest. Ralph needed to rest too since his tongue was hanging out and he was panting pretty good. I let him have some water. As Ralph was lapping up his water, I noticed a homeless man pushing his cart across the park with what few possessions he had in the world, I suppose. I've always had great empathy for the homeless. But, for the grace of God, there go I is my feeling about that. The homeless gentleman noticed Ralph and I on the bench and started making his way over to us. I suspected he wanted some change for breakfast or whatever he needed for Saturday morning.

So, as he was coming our way, I got out my wallet and I was going to give him a couple of dollars. He came over, said hi and asked me if I could do him a favor. I immediately thought about the money and started to hand it to him. He shook his head and told me to keep my money. It wasn't money he wanted. Now, I'm starting to get a little alarmed. He said, "I just wanted to know if I could pet your beagle." I started to tell him that would not be a good idea when he suddenly squatted down and started petting Ralph. Unbelievably to me, Ralph started wagging his tail and licked the man's hand. It was a double shock to me. He stated he had a beagle like Ralph one time when he was a small boy in California. And seeing Ralph brought back memories. He thanked me and went on his way out of the park.

So, what is the point of this blog entry today? Maybe there isn't one. But, if there is a point, I would say it was me being ashamed of myself for making a quick assumption about the man.  I hate stereotyping.  Regretfully, that is exactly what I did. Perhaps, more importantly, maybe for just a few moments, this man wanted to feel some normalcy in his life again. If that was the case, then I'm glad Ralph and I were there for him. 


I'm glad for you too. How amazing that Ralph allowed the man to pet him, when he won't allow others! I guess he knew that the man needed this special contact. Enjoy your walks!


Ralph never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have him figured out, he goes and does something like last Saturday. I think maybe Ralph could tell this man needed a moment that brought some sanity into this world. I think Ralph helped provide it to him. Thanks for commenting.

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