I was once a frequent walker at the beautiful Bonne Terre pond. It’s a fantastic way for me to relieve work stress and watch the seasons change. During that time I noticed a man and his golden retriever there every day at basically the same time doing the same thing I was. Weeks and months passed with the occasional hello and pat on the dog’s nose —all the while me keeping my earbuds in so I wouldn’t have to make small talk with some “strange man”. When the dog would see me from a distance he would about jump out of his fur to get to me as fast as possible just to get that head pat and the breeze of my passing—the man seems equally excited. It went on like that for quite awhile. Some time later we began conversing and soon we were on a first name basis. Yep, Fred and his dog Duke were becoming my friends. We talked about our love for the St. Louis Cardinals, Mizzou football and the beauty of our small town. We talked about his years of activity serving our community and how he is a widow to a once terrific seamstress. We talked about his grown children and their own successful lives—the closest one living in St. Louis and some even overseas. And we talked about me and my life. Fred lives all alone in the world, except for Duke, his main man!