Spring has sprung—the old poem went.

After an unseasonably cold first half of April, the air is finally mild and the sky almost clear of clouds.

This and early fall are the best times to take the dogs on a long walk through the park.
But the fine weather came too late for my darling Tess, who left us a month ago—I know she would have loved the hike and the smell of the new grass and leaves.

And it’s too soon for baby Iris, our 3-month-old Airedale pup, who still tires easily and stops every few seconds to sniff and stare at literally everything on her path. In fairness, everything is new and fascinating to her.

So here I am, longing to stroll in the park—but I see no point in going alone.

Let me be clear here: baby Iris won’t replace Tess, as I keep saying to myself, my neighbors, and assorted dog people. In September 2013, at the age of two months, Tess staked a claim to a chunk of my heart and still defends it with the snarling determination of a Giant Schnauzer.

Iris is well on her way to staking her own claim to a part of my cardiac muscle, and it’s probably right next to Tess’s. It’s the best real estate in me and it is where my softheartedness resides.

Iris will be 8 months old in the fall and we’ll hit the park then. I’ll show her Tess’s favorite spots and watch her while she explores them for the first time.

I’ll be sure to wear sunshades and bring a pack of tissues—in case we stumble upon a patch of onion grass, of course.