"Can I say hi?" I ask the dog's owner, but the tail wags and eye contact my new furry friend and I have going speaks of a connection far beyond some human's capacity to affirm or deny.
Before the permission has faded from the air, I am on one knee, the back of my hand toward the dog in a relaxed way, just like I was taught, and after a perfunctory sniff and a lick, I am enveloped in the wiggly charms of a bluish-gray french bulldog.
She open mouth laughs in that way that bulldogs do, her entire body an ode to joy as I rub her sides, scratch her back, wobble her jowly cheeks.
"You know that customer service has treats, right?" I say out of politeness to the owner, so she doesn't feel left out, and she nods politely back, like the retainer for a very popular member of royalty, knowing her place while her majesty's subjects adoringly worship.