Doggie in the window

By Dan Dunkle | Dec 05, 2013
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle This is Leo. I took the picture with my cell phone, so it is a little fuzzy, but I like the way the lights of the parade are reflected in the glass before him.

We were surprised by how many people turned out at the Festival of Lights Parade in Rockland this year.

Driving down Limerock Street, we saw cars taking all of the available parking spots between the funeral home and the courthouse. The courthouse lot was full too, and people dressed for the cold were grouped together, hoofing it down to Main Street.

Finally, after two or three circles around the block, Christine found a parking spot and we dismounted the Equinox. We came prepared, lugging camp chairs and a bag of blankets.

People lined both sides of Main Street just like at the Lobster Festival parade even though it was cold and dark. We set up in front of Dowling Walsh Gallery. Here there was a long storefront window, right down to the corner, and warm yellow light was spilling out onto the sidewalk.

There were only two camp chairs. I had envisioned them serving Christine and me, but the kids ended up taking them. Samantha and Wesley looked pretty snug in their coats and under blankets.

So the parade started and all of the brightly-lit floats started going past. Pulled by trucks, they were strung with Christmas lights. People wore costumes, and each float had its own theme. There was a professional looking one from a hair salon, several from area churches, one with a psychotic, too real-looking snowman waving to people.

At one point, the animal shelter vehicle appeared, making a kind of "meowing" noise. As this went past, an unbearably cute brown-and-white dog with floppy ears and mushy eyes and the whole bit appeared in the gallery window. The dog's expression was easy to read:

"What in the world is going on out here? What are you people doing?"

This dog kind of stole the show for me. He just highlighted how strange we humans are.

The dog's name is Leo, according to Kirsten Bierlein, who works at the gallery. He is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belonging to Jake and Mary Dowling.

"He comes to work with us every day," Kirsten said.

There are two dogs, actually. His companion is a black dog named Sadie, who I did not see. Sadie is, apparently, less inclined to watch parades.

"That's Leo's spot in the window."

There is no way to be sure whether or not he liked the parade. At one point he did turn his back to the window and lay down. I think once he determined there was no cat to be seen, he decided he had seen enough.

As for the rest of us, it was just what it claimed to be, a festival of lights, a chance to score some candy canes and way to make the hot cocoa back home taste all the richer.

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