Berkeley, California, drinking a decaf coffee with soya milk, drawing people and smoking my e-cigarette, when a man stops, looks down at Sonya's dog Oliver, gives an airy squeal, sticks his hand out at the dog and cries out, 'Oh, my goodness me, he is the cutest dog I have ever seen,'
I look down at Oliver, who is a foster dog and was abused as a pup and has anxiety issues, to see that he is now reversing away from the excited man as fast as he can and pulling so hard on his lead that I think his little blond fox-style head might pop off.
'We have to be careful around him, he's very timid,' I tell the man, 'He was beaten when he was little so he has some issues...relating,'
'Oh yes,' whispers the man who has big brown eyes and is wearing a checked shirt, Caterpillar boots, a big brown beard and glasses, 'me too,'
Then he throws up his hands and laughs.
And I laugh too and then I look at him seriously and say-'Sorry, I shouldn't laugh that you were beaten when you were little. That's awful,'
'Oh' says the man, standing up and touching me on the arm, 'it was a long time ago. I'm over it,'
'Oh,' I say, 'so there's hope for Oliver, yet,'
The man laughs and squeals out an airy yes.
Then the man looks down at me, touching me again, this time on the shoulder, and asks me what Oliver's name is.
'Oliver,' I tell him.
And the man does another of his squeals again.
'Oh, my god,' he says, 'he so-o-o-o-o looks like an Oliver,'
Oliver is about calf height and blond and has a curled tail and red tips at the end of his hair.
His ears are over-sized for his body and his eyes are dark brown.
He has recently had his testicles removed and when he walks he goes on tiptoes.
'He's very good with my friend, Sonya,' I tell the man as we both stand there looking down at Oliver who is now beginning to relax, 'he rolls around on her like a cat,'
'Aw,' the man says, and then touches me on the shoulder again.
Then he kneels down again, holds his hand out toward Oliver, and Oliver comes toward the man's hand, doing a one step forward, two step back tentative tango.
Then, suddenly, Oliver stops yawns and goes into a downward dog.
'Look,' I say, 'that's how dogs relieve their anxiety and stress. They do downward dog,'
And at this the man gives another thrilled squeal.
'Oh, my god,' he says, reaching over and touching me on the knee and looking up at me, 'he is the cutest dog I have ever seen.'