One of my ongoing difficulties is making friends. While I’m not always shy, I am definitely introverted, and it takes a lot of work to get me to go to a place where I will interact with strangers. I take almost any available excuse to dissolve into watchful silence, or better yet, not even go in the first place.
I’m totally fine with people I already know I like, and it’s not that I don’t have any friends. I have some really stellar ones. The only trouble there is, most of those people live in another state than this one. At any given time, the chances of finding a friend available to hang out in my physical vicinity is slim.
From time to time, I get the notion to ‘do something about it’ (not about the introverted tendencies – those aren’t in need of fixing, but the lack of friends in my own town). All this to explain why I recently downloaded the meetup app on my phone.
I joined several meetup groups when I arrived in Nashville three-ish years ago, and promptly stopped reading any of the notifications ever because Teacher Life. So I plugged back in.
And I was scrolling through the group names and descriptions idly one night last week and I saw an upcoming event called “Hike Shelter Dogs for…”
‘N I was like, sweet. Further clicking led me to “Tails of the Trail,” and I signed up for Saturday morning’s walk.
You guys. If a magic bartender were to mix me a volunteer opportunity, this would be it.
When I lived in Japan, I had the opportunity to visit something called a “cat cafe.” Many opportunities, though I only went to one ever, since I’m not really a cat person. This is a place where you pay a fee to to hang out with a bunch of cats, with toys and space provided.
I had been heard to have first asked if there were any dog cafes to be had (respondent was like: “You mean a place, where they… provide dogs for you to enjoy?”) and then to complain that the nearby dog cafe was NOT a dogs-provided cafe but rather just a dogs-are-OK-on-premises cafe.
I couldn’t have pets while living in Japan, and I don’t have pets now for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle (during TeacherLife) and living location/living space. I’m not in the market, really.
But this organization, you guys, to get back on track, has us pick up shelter dogs (who need attention and exercise anyway), take them to a nearby park (sometimes they do stay onsite), and hike with them. It’s like they took everything I wanted and made it a meetup event. Being outside, playing with dogs, visiting state parks, helping.
It’s the best idea ever! Even though I can’t have a dog right now, I can still do this.
Today I walked with this guy:
…and took that photo by the Hidden Lake of the Harpeth State Park.