We stopped at Starbucks at the craziest point in the morning, on a day they were shorthanded, and while one of the baristas was busy setting up a new pot of coffee to brew. I got some raspberry/peach/yogurt/granola parfait thing and something for George and drinks for both of us. I realized belatedly that I couldn't eat the parfait while driving (though George did offer to spoon-feed me and make airplane noises -- I declined). So after I dropped him off, I parked in some shade and ate my breakfast and then headed to the park for walkies.
It was the Best Walk Ever.
This was not necessarily because the pups were being particularly well-behaved (though... they were, actually), but had more to do with a bit of a chance encounter with a group of about four special-needs kids who happened to be on an outing to the park that day. I am by no means an expert when it comes to identifying various conditions, but I could tell one little girl had Downs Syndrome, another little girl seemed to be autistic (judging by what -- admittedly little -- I know of behaviors), one little boy was in a chair (he seemed to be largely unaware of anything going on, but I fully admit I know jack squat about these conditions), and the final little boy seemed to be a bit more functional, and it is my guess that his condition was a bit milder than the rest.
Anyway, the pups seemed curious, and they're both really very good with kids, so I figured no harm could come of asking if the pups could say hello. The teachers with the kids seemed a little hesitant, but said as long as the dogs were well-behaved, they could see no problem with it. (Darwin almost ruined everything when he started to woof at the chair, but he got over it quickly.) So we went over and I sat on the ground, and made both dogs sit. The final little boy I mentioned above was ALL ABOUT THIS, and Darwin took to him instantly, licking at his hands and face, and eventually D stretched out and lay down against this little boy's leg. Sydney was amazingly good, and was very, very gentle, licking the kidlets' hands when the teachers told them to let Syd sniff first. The little girl with DS was petting her (the teachers kept reminding her to be gentle, but Syd just let her do whatever, and eventually rolled onto her back and asdfjk; SO CUTE I NEARLY DIED).
The other little girl seemed kind of afraid of them at first, but was eventually coaxed over long enough to pet Sydney (Darwin was busy being BFFs with the aforementioned little boy), and it was Syd who was recruited to say hello to the little boy in the wheelchair; she sniffed and licked and nuzzled his hand and arm, and then Darwin came over and followed suit.
All in all, it was about 15 minutes of sitting down and sharing some puppy therapy, and it was completely awesome. I'd been giving a little thought about training Syd to be a therapy dog, and seeing her interact with those kids today is making me think more seriously about it.
The rest of our walk was phenomenal. We stopped and talked to some people, and it seemed the more people complimented them on being well-behaved, the better they behaved. XD
Now we're home, and the dogs are sacked out after a long walk and a good meal, and I am left with enough warm fuzzies to last the entire day. ♥