While trying to complete ten kilometres for my daily walk plan, I come across a variety of living beings. I wear a baseball cap to avoid eye-contact with the homo sapiens but the cap does not prevent eye-contact with smaller species.

There are about 4-5 adult cats. They shy away from humans and can be seen lurking under parked cars, behind the green badminton-court fencing, behind the waist-high bushes and behind the parking lot pillars all throughout the residential society. They peer at me with wary curiosity. Sometimes they dart across my path to shift from under one parked car to another. Sometimes I confuse them when I mew. There’s also a new litter of kittens. These can be seen scampering about with one of the adults. As soon as they spot a human though, they lay low, hide and disappear from view.

One tabby in particular, likes to rummage through garbage. I’ve caught it red-pawed on my door mat, after it had ripped open the garbage bag and caught hold of the chicken bones. It sat on the door mat, patiently chewing each bone. When I walked up on it. It looked up at me in alarm, paused mid-chewing, waiting for me to do something, scoping its exit route. It left a pile of bones on the doormat when it darted. This cat visits the doormat once every month. Sometimes it finds chicken bones in my garbage, sometimes it leaves pigeon bones.

I’ve rarely spotted any of the cats during day time. Mainly because the majority of my walking time is at night. But when I have spotted a cat during the day, there’s usually a pigeon clutched in its jaws. I love cats.

Stray dogs are not allowed inside the premises. If one manages to get through the tough security at the main gate, it will not be long before someone spots it and it is rudely thrown out.

Pet dogs are always on leashes or in harnesses and I spot at least a handful when I’m walking.

This past month, I’ve been smiling at a Golden Retriever each time I see him. His humans are two ladies – a Mom and Daughter – who walk him late evenings after dinner. He’s a very handsome dog and he makes me smile. I’ve never actually spoken with him, or petted him or spoken to his humans either.

I’ll be walking along and despite my baseball cap, I’ll spot this dog in the distance, being walked towards me. I smile. I continue to walk and at some point the dog is in front of me. My smile widens. I think the dog’s humans know I smile at him. I hope they don’t mind. Then the dog and I cross each other, at a short distance, and it is goodbye till we meet again another day. Not a word is exchanged.

This has been playing out over the last month and has happened on eight to ten separate occasions. I keep telling myself and coaxing myself that I should just pet the dog but it hadn’t happened. Until last night.

I was walking with my baseball cap on. Again I spotted the dog in the distance, smiled. We crossed paths. My smile widened. It was just another day.

Then on my second round, I saw the dog again. In the distance. I was confused. This had not happened earlier. I smiled some more! He’s a very handsome dog! As we approached each other, this time, I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t smile at him or his humans. They must think I’m truly weird.” Just as I was thinking these thoughts, the dog lunged at me. I immediately threw away my baseball cap and lunged at him and spent the next whole minute petting him and scratching his neck.

Clearly, Ginger had had enough of being stared at. He stood patiently, looking up at me, while I ruffled his mane. He wasn’t mad happy tail-wagging. More like he was probably thinking, “Ok, you’ve been staring and smiling at me long enough. Just pet me and get it over with. Here.” Ginger’s humans were a tad appalled. “But he’s so dirty! He’s filthy!” I couldn’t have cared if he was covered in wet mud. The grin on my face was the biggest one yet as I said goodnight to Ginger. Maybe we will meet again.