“Can she see your dog?” he asked, seeming to appear out of nowhere amidst the throng of tourists navigating Duval Street.
I was perched at my favorite outdoor bar, Rouletta on my lap, sipping a fresh grapefruit and rum while waiting for my great guy to finish his shift at the restaurant a few doors down.
I turned to face the man, fully expecting to see a daughter or granddaughter eagerly extending her hand to pet my dog.
“She’s really cute and looks very sweet,” the man said to the petit blonde woman he pushed in a wheelchair. The woman smiled and adjusted her sunglasses.
“May I?” she quietly asked me, raising her hands slightly, both palms up.
I gathered Rouletta in my arms and reached toward the woman. The man pushing the woman’s wheelchair took her hands and placed them on the top of Rouletta’s head. The woman slowly moved her hands across Roulettas’s ears and around her muzzle.
“Oh, this is a very nice dog,” smiled the woman.
“She’s brindle and white and has a round spot on top of her head,” the man said.
“Is her face as cute as it feels?” asked the woman as she stroked Rouletta’s brow.
“She’s a Boston Terrier,” I said. “She looks like she kissed a truck,” I laughed.
“No, this is a beautiful dog, I can tell,” said the woman delicately moving her fingers over Rouletta’s wrinkled nose.
“She has a little gray around her eyes, and each of her front paws has one black nail,” laughed the man.
Rouletta, who only grudgingly puts up with the noise and hustle of Duval Street, who barely allows strangers a moment’s glance as they call out to her, began to gently lick the woman’s right hand.
“She clearly knows a person who loves dogs,” I smiled at the woman.
“She’s a dog who is clearly loved,” answered the woman as she gave Rouletta one last pet around her ears.
“Thank you so much for letting her see your dog,” said the man.
“Yes, thank you. She’s beautiful,” said the woman.
“You’re welcome, of course. Anytime,” I said to both, feeling almost shy after this quiet exchange.
I held Rouletta on my lap once again and watched the man push the woman’s wheelchair away from me and into the crowd.
“Oooooh, a Boston! Can I pet her?” said a dazzlingly beautiful woman a second later.
“I have two at home! Can I take her picture?” said an older woman five minutes later.
“She is sooooooo cute! Is she still a puppy?” said a 10-year old girl a minute after that.
I smiled at each. Rouletta reluctantly allowed each a brief moment of attention.
We both wished we had spent a few more minutes with the woman in the wheelchair.