Photo by Jordan Bannock.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus

Walking is one of my favorite ways to connect with my city. I can walk in my neighborhood or around the track for exercise, but my walks in Charlotte’s parks keep me connected with the diverse community growing up around me. I continue to be excited by the different cultures and languages I see and hear.

I wonder where our city will be in coming years. We will grow for sure, adding new residents, and we will add different cultures, languages, and lifestyles.

Thinking about the Albert Camus quote above, I realize how much I want our new neighbors to weave themselves into the fabric of this city I love. I don’t want them to follow me, nor do I want to follow them. I just want us to walk together and be friends.

Louisa at the park on her six-month birthday. Photo by Jordan Bannock.
Louisa at the park on her six-month birthday. Photo by Jordan Bannock.

Meet Louisa. She loves the park. She has made it our favorite place. I admire her outgoing nature and the way she enjoys meeting all her new friends.

Louisa likes to see her neighborhood dog friends but she also seems to enjoy meeting the wide variety of new dogs she sees at the park. Both Louisa and I have been told by the experts that this kind of socialization is good and that it will keep her balanced later as a mature member of our household.

I am thinking the same can be true for us all.

Louisa is equally friendly with almost every dog she meets. She doesn’t seem to care whether their parents speak different languages because she seems to be able to talk freely with all her many friends.

Did Louisa know the Albert Camus quote from an earlier life? I don’t know the answer to that question but what I do know is how well she understands his message. “Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Labels go away in the park. We are all just people, with our pets. We are no longer these people or those people. We don’t have this dog or that dog. We are all just walking together, as friends in the park.

What about you and your pup? Do you stick close to home where you know everyone, or do you get out to socialize with people and pups who are different from you?

What is the value of this socialization for Louisa, for your pup, for me, and for you?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


Have you ever seen people walking 20-25 dogs at one time. It is quite a site. This video is from Buenos Aires.