So let’s suppose one is about 4,392 years old. OK, I’m actually 67. And male, further negatively compounding any possible social-circle expansion. (Males tend to have difficulty making new friends in the best of times.) Then heavily sprinkle these variables with a wrathful and even fatal dose of planet-wide pandemic and one has the chance to become a shut-in, depressed, fatter and perhaps even claustrophobic.

Initially, dogs walking their owners was one of the very few legal ways out of one’s home during the early stages of lockdown. And, faithfully, every day she walked me. Nine fifteen every morning, we drove exactly one mile to Del Monte Forest, Monterey County, California, where upon few if any other souls walked. Except for one day. On that day, a lovely German shepherd we will call Romeo said hello to us. You know, a sniff of the leg, a nose in the crotch, a lick of the face if one were to bend down. I did of course. Then a happy gallop in a growing circle around Winnie and myself. A man name Dave belongs to Romeo. He, too, has been trained to bring his beast to the forest. Winnie likes Dave and Dave also likes Winnie.

So, the four of us have sauntered in the forest now for perhaps four or five months. Each of us is happy. We have a COVID-19-schedule-meet-up. Nine fifteen each day rain or shine. If it rains, we wear heavy-duty rain gear. Dog rain gear consists of a towel and a thorough drying before getting back in the dog transportation vehicles. A much easier job for me with a Frenchie than Dave with a very long-legged German shepherd. Plus, Romeo loves water. Any form will do, puddles, brackish streams and even the one small but deep pond. Winnie, as a Frenchie cannot swim, but she does not know that yet. She will be informed most cautiously at some future point.

And so, Dave, Romeo, Winnie and I have become fast friends. We’ve ridden e-bikes together. Had lunch more than once, and Dave is helping me build a fence that needs replacing. Oh, and of course we do wife therapy. That entails commiserating on our many and long-remembered marital faux pas (real and imagined, I’ll add, because neither of our wives will probably ever read this).

COVID-19 has caused me to have two new solid friends, something not so easy for an old guy these days. Winnie is pretty happy about the arrangement, too.