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  • When I was young, childless and living in the inner-city, I was barely conscious of the fact that people didn’t say hello to each other. In the street. At cafes. Waiting for a bus. Now that I’m older, a parent and living further out, I’ve noticed how often I have conversations, meaningful ones even, with complete strangers. And I put it down to two things - dogs and children. They are the great removers of barriers between people - I can’t exactly pretend I didn’t see the lady who lives a few streets away when my child is waving at them, or my dog is sniffing their dog’s bum.

    Young children and dogs don’t know or care for the conventions we have around not acknowledging other humans. And thank goodness for that. I suspect I would be far more inward and keeping to myself if Poppy and Penny didn’t thrust me into these social interactions.

    One time, after talking to this sweet old lady who lives near our park, Penny (my dog) did this enormous poo. I had no bag with me to collect it and dump in the bin, so instead of offering me one of her own spare bags, the lady proceeded to pick up my dog’s poo herself. It was such a strange sight, after thanking her and bidding her farewell, to see her disappear into the distance with my dog’s poo in her bag. But it left a smile on my face for some time after; the generosity of that act, the recognition that with my arms full with a toddler, collecting dog poo was a bit of a struggle.

    It’s made me realise, all these afternoon chats with other parents, other dog owners, how generous people can be with others they barely know. And how joyous it is to open ourselves up to sharing with new people. Kinda like Cowbird really.
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