Bicycles are a primary means of travel in Amsterdam thus they dominate the roadways while the rider has no qualms about running over a pedestrian if one wanders into a designated bike path or lane. Walking Erin along busy avenues while keeping her from veering into the path of a speeding bike proved to be a challenge as dogs are curious creatures by nature. A chorus of clanging bells and honking horns ring out as the riders announce their position along the pathway's and respect was paid to these metal two-wheeled beasts that whizzed by. When no bikes were spotted I'd occasionally allow Erin to investigate her surroundings and then she'd be promptly retrieved as a bell was sounded, it worked well and all was good for awhile until lightening finally struck.
A girl of college age was glimpsed racing up behind us thus I immediately pulled Erin in my direction but it was too late as the speeding bike was unable to slow down and it plowed into her chest. The collision produced a yelp as she landed upon her side but it caused no physical harm, mainly it startled her and those soulful eyes implored "What the heck just happened?" Immediately I offered reassurance to my girl while apologizing to the young lady for allowing this incident to happen but she believed it was her fault for not sounding the bell so she repeatedly expressed her apology. Either way it was an unfortunate event for all involved but we were both so relieved that Erin wasn't serious injured and needless to say I was much more cautious around bike paths and my travel companion was certainly thankful for that.
Kindness often comes from the most unlikely of sources and this was verified while watching the street performers entertain the crowd near the Royal Palace in Dam Square. Erin seemed to be lethargic during an afternoon trek and while I knew it wasn't a serious issue it was still concerning as her health is always of the utmost importance. We found some shade to escape the mid-summer heat and while she drank some water, a pair of grungy disheveled folks sat down near us to strike up a conversation. From their shoddy physical appearance I assumed they were pan handlers, scam artists or any other sort of riff raff that was best avoided so I tried to ignore their questions about our journey to Amsterdam. Dogs never prejudge as humans do hence Erin went over to make their acquaintance while I kept a close eye on her new-found friends; they heaped lots of attention upon her as the floodgate to friendship was opened. If anyone ever wanted to befriend me all they had to do was spoil Erin who seemed to make friends with everyone she encountered.
Turns out they were a married couple from America residing in Holland and they had no desire to ever return home, they loved the nomadic lifestyle and thrill of surviving on the streets of Amsterdam. My travels across Europe with a dog impressed them and our topic of conversation focused upon Erin, I was still concerned about her lack of energy and they showed much sympathy. The man disappeared then returned with some water in a plastic cup which she gulped down but no effect was had so I expressed a desire to see a veterinarian about her condition but the odds of me finding one were slim to none. Our new friends insisted I not worry as they left us in the shade for awhile, they returned to inform me a taxi van was coming to transport us to an awaiting animal clinic and this generous couple even offered to ride along for support if needed. Before departing in the taxi, I repaid them for their kindness with my sincere appreciation and some much needed money which they initially refused but I insisted they take it or risk offending me. The kindness of these strangers left a lasting impression on me, they were obviously downtrodden and saddled with burdens but that didn't prevent them from helping Erin. A valuable life lesson was learned that afternoon, it's impossible to judge a person's heart from their outer appearance...dogs really do know best. Btw, she was fine; I was an over-worried dad as usual.
We departed Amsterdam the following morning after four amazing days of fun and adventure. Canals, wooden shoes, tulips, Van Gogh, and pancakes became a part of Erin's life as she explored this urban doggie heaven, greeting another fur friend in the shadow of a towering windmill is beyond words.
So many smiles, so many tail wags, and so many new friends....