Last week my wife and I were walking in Runyon Canyon, stopping to say hello to the two chestnut horses and one goat that stand in a small space behind a wire fence before you reach the iron gate entrance. Small children like to look at these animals. The goat seems to be friends with the horses, and the horses seem to deal with their boredom as best they can. But when we returned from the walk and passed the animals on our way home, one of the horses was laying down. I thought that odd. You don’t really see horses on the ground unless they’re giving birth, though I believe there was a famous race horse that liked to lay down in his stall.
A few days later we walked to the canyon again and the horse was still on the ground, breathing slowly. The other horse was behind him, and the goat was a distance away. I figured the horse was sick. And two days after that, the horse was gone. I don’t know what happened to him, but I imagine the worst.
On the day the horse was gone, a man lost his dog in the canyon. He approached us and asked if we had seen a large grey dog, but we hadn’t. He was near the top of the canyon and had to choose between going all the way back to the parking lot, hoping his dog went that way, or going back down 2.5 miles to Hollywood Blvd. I sympathized with the owner and told him it once happened with our dog, who ran away as we walked down to the bench, pretty far down the canyon. As my wife was with my sister and I was with my brotherinlaw, we each thought the other had the dog. As it turned out, neither of us did, and we began to ask people if they had seen our dog. I was pretty distraught about it and thought the worst, but what could we do? I figured we’d just have to go home and start putting out flyers. But when we got home we found our dog on our bed! She had found her way home, had gone up the back stairs, pushed open the screen door with her paw, and jumped into our bed. She seemed happy to see us, but not enough to get off the bed and give us the kind of greeting dogs normally do when they’ve been left alone.
I like living near Runyon Canyon because you get to see so many breeds of dogs, so many birds catching thermals overhead, all the little moles and gophers who dig their holes on the sides and pop their heads out to annoy the dogs. I like being among nature. I like to look at the people who are pushing strollers or carrying their kids on their backs or riding bikes, jogging, listening to their iPods. Sometimes we walk into people we know, but most of the time we just smile at those who pass us and they smile back, and we acknowledge the day.
Then there are the days when a horse takes sick or a dog disappears and it affects you. The elation of being in nature and walking in a canyon turns to sadness for the animal or the owner. Hopefully, the chestnut horse was brought to a vet and he’ll return. And the lost dog was found, waiting for his owner to open the car door and take him home.
Best to imagine happy endings.