Someday I’ll have to tell you about the neighbor up the street whose house is neglected and in utter decay, with shingles falling off and tree limbs on the roof, rotting vehicles in the driveway, and an overgrown yard that one would be foolish to enter, because of a certain unpredictable four-year old boxer that lives on and in the premises. I had a run-in with the dog just a couple of mornings ago. I’d just set out on a short walk, and was a couple of houses away in the opposite direction, when, out of the quiet misty dark, I was suddenly alarmed by the dog’s wild barking right behind me, and then, just as suddenly, right in front of me, only five or six feet away. Immediately, instinct kicked in, and I yelled so loud at the dog to “get out of here,” followed by a choice expletive, that the thing took off running and ran all the way home. This is what happens, I guess, when an aggressive young male meets a hairy old jackass. I looked at the houses around me, still dark. I expected lights to come on and neighbors to emerge with clubs and guns. Nothing. My heart was pounding. Someday I’ll have to tell you about it. I’ll also have to mention that it’s not the first time it’s happened, and that I’m not the only one in the neighborhood that it’s happened to, and that the owner has been visited by animal control authorities. The fact is, yesterday, a day after this happened, I was thinking of calling them myself, when, on the way home from the grocery store, we saw the neighbor sitting in his one vehicle that still runs, parked by the curb, with his head down, either asleep, dead, or looking at his phone. Back at the house, I said to my wife, “Maybe I should go talk to him.” And so I walked over there, keeping my eyes open all the while for the dog, which turned out to be on the seat beside him. The man’s head was still down. The window was up. I walked up slowly, so not to surprise him. He had a phone in his lap. When he didn’t look up, I finally rapped on the window lightly with my knuckle. This made the dog bark. The man woke up, or came to, and looked at me with a half-dazed expression, and smiled in an almost but not quite embarrassed sort of way. He started the engine in order to roll down his window part way. Even with a gap of only six or eight inches, the dog was hoping to leap out and race off down the street. Anyway. We had a quiet little talk. I’d never talked to him before. I told him what had happened, and how it wasn’t the first time, etc., etc., and he replied by saying the dog just wants to play, and so on, and so on, and all you have to do is tell him, “No, Rambo.” Of course he knows that dogs are supposed to be on a leash, but sometimes it moves too quickly for him — this latter being my observation, not his. The dog has one purpose in life, and that is to run. And the man has him for one reason, and that is for companionship. It’s very sad, very beautiful, and very interesting. The man is slow. The dog is fast. The dog tolerates the man because the man feeds him and gives him blankets to sleep on inside. The dog has an ignorant expression. They got out of the vehicle. He held onto the dog by a small frayed rope attached to a collar. I gave the dog a rub, which it didn’t seem to notice. “I want to run. I want to run. I want to run. And bark. That’s what I want to do.” We talked a little more. I said that if he’s not careful, one of these days someone would call it in and he’d lose him. The man was helpless. He smiled. The dog is his only friend. I can only imagine what the house looks like inside, the leaks from the roof, the dirt, the smell. I think his plumbing still works. And so we parted company on friendly terms, with no guarantee whatsoever that the next time I go out, I won’t be accosted by Rambo. We had enjoyed a quiet few months. I expect the neighbor will be extra-careful with him for awhile. He doesn’t want to lose him. I could go on, about what I learned about myself and the man from the encounter and from our conversation, about what I’m still learning as I write this. But it’s time for my walk.