Ray and I were headed around the lake. As is our custom, we were stopping to chat with anyone who cared to, mostly people with other dogs. Approaching on the path was Leila, a one-year-old Boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. Leila has the Ridgeback head and bodyshape but her size, energy level, and personality are all Boxer.
Ray doesn't particularly care for Leila, not because she is mean but because, being a Boxer, she boxes, and the last time they met, in her excitement, Leila inadvertently socked Ray in the eye. So Ray doesn't trust her. He tries not to be rude, he just tries to keep a safe distance. This is a bit tricky since Leila is a VERY strong dog and is walked by a thinnish, friendly young woman who is clearly getting a good workout during their walks.
Since I thought it would be a good idea if Leila got used to Ray so that she wouldn't be so excited when she saw him, we turned from our path and started walking with said young woman and Leila.
"So, where do you live?" asked Leila's owner.
I told her my street and asked where she lived. She reciprocated with her street name.
"You live pretty far from me," she said. "I thought you must live around me somewhere because I was talking to the people next door to me and they knew Ray."
I was fairly certain that I didn't know anyone on the street that she had mentioned and asked their names. I didn't recognize them when she told me, but on our walks Ray and I take in a LOT of territory. I knew the street was in the general direction of the grammar school and Ray and I had recently walked that route on more than one occasion. I could think of only one chance encounter during those walks.
"Do they have a baby?" I asked.
"Yes!" she replied.
Ray and I had met the couple in question one morning while they were pushing a stroller with a tiny baby propped up in the seat. As usual, Ray went bonkers at the smell of BABY. I managed to get him under sufficient control and briefly chatted with the young couple about (what else?) dogs in general and Ray in particular. I was holding Ray well away from the stroller, but his neck was stretched way out, his head snaking back and forth, his tongue flicking out over and over blindly licking the air in search of baby. His tail was wagging. The couple "awww"ed. Since they were obviously dog people, I asked if it was alright if Ray licked the baby's feet. Most people are too nervous to let Ray near their babies. This wonderful couple gave their permission. I held tightly to the leash, planted myself firmly next to him, and let Ray at the baby's feet. He frantically licked the baby's feet and nibbled the baby's toes. I was glad that the tray in front of the baby hid Ray's head. I didn't think the couple would be so sanguine if they knew Ray was a nibbler. Ray tried desperately to get his tongue to the baby's face but I was just as determined that he would stop at the feet. I pushed his nose away and pulled him from the baby. I knew that Ray could die happy that day.
"They were saying what a gentle dog Ray was," continued Leila's owner.
I laughed. If they only knew. If Ray had access to a baby 24/7, the baby would be gone in a week. Little by little, layer by layer, Ray would lick it down to nothing.