My almost-4-month-old pup and I were visiting co-workers in the garden outlet store.
It was a cold, gray afternoon and there were few customers, just a handful of retirees.
Niki was having a grand time sniffing out the dog lovers, sitting in front of them and getting pats and rubs.
"Can I pick her up?" a gray-haired woman asked.
Niki weighs nearly 20 pounds now and much prefers her faster four legs to my slower two.
"She's kind of heavy," I said.
"Oh, she doesn't weight much more than my cat," said the woman as she sat down her chunky purse and picked up Niki.
The pup didn't squirm. Her alligator mouth didn't explore. Instead, she rested her head in the crook of the woman's arm.
"Do you have a dog?" I asked.
"My dog died this summer. She was 11 years old," the woman said.