There are dog people, and then there are dog people. Eileen was dog people. They were her passion and her life’s work. I met her through the Muttley Crew – a dog hiking group through Meetup.com. She introduced me to so many local trails I would never have known existed – places near Toronto that have hidden away from the urban life. She brought together a group of people whose only real commonality was dogs, and made sure to socialize with everyone on the hike. And their dogs, of course. She hardly knew me, but she still checked in on me when I didn’t make it out to any hikes for a few months.
She was the treat lady, she was the go-to person for pettings. She was in the creek with the dogs, encouraging the more timid of them to try swimming. She got Gwynn deeper into the water than he’d been before. Ten minutes into the hike, she wsa the pied-piper, leading the dogs on a merry chase. You’re having issues with your dog jumping up, not responding to ‘come’, being timid, toy guarding? She would give you encouragement, advice if you wanted it, and absolute positivity. She believed 100% in your dog.
She worked to get her own dog out of his own anxiety and wariness so that he could, completely comfortably, join a large group of people and dogs in the woods.
Dirty dogs are happy dogs – by the end of our hikes, the dogs were certainly happy!
She was doing what made her happiest – hiking with dogs – and that knowledge makes me glad. While I wish it could have been years and years from now, she died with her hiking boots on.
Eileen will be missed. I have no doubt that wherever she is now, there are happy dogs, wide open spaces, and forests for miles.