“Time for walkies.” Len Connor opened the dog kennel and fixed the leash on the collie. He patted her head. “I have the feeling you’re going to be adopted soon.” He led the dog out to the walking yard and made ten laps through the grass. He loved his volunteer job at the Springdale dog shelter. There weren’t a bunch of dogs currently in the kennels but too many cats. He wished he could adopt all the animals, but he wasn’t in any position to be the crazy dog and cat guy. His dog, Cissy, stood at the doorway to the building and watched him.
“Sorry, Ciss. I’ll walk you next.” He led the collie back into the shelter and to her kennel. “Sorry, girl,” he said to the collie. “Your forever parents will come. I know they will.” He patted his hip. “Come on, Cissy. Time to make the rounds.” He’d adopted Cissy from the shelter two years before, and she loved to visit. The Irish setter seemed to know which dog needed comfort. He wished he could be as much of a busy bee as his dog.
He rounded the corner to check on the dogs in the last row and noticed a man walking down the corridor between the kennels. “Isaac?” His doctor was there? “Hey…good to see you.” He sure hoped the man was Isaac or he’d just made an ass of himself. He’d spent a fair amount of time with Isaac, but he still wasn’t sure of himself around the doctor.
“Len.” Isaac grinned. “How are you? You look good. How are you feeling? Are you taking care of yourself? You look like you are.”
Man, the guy had used the word you
a lot. He chuckled. “I’m great. I’m eating right and exercising. I volunteer here and the library. I started swimming again.” He puffed out his chest, proud of himself. “I feel ten years younger.”
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“Isaac?” The question knocked him for a loop. He hadn’t expected to hear it from Isaac. Was he interested? Nah. Isaac probably had a boyfriend. A handsome doctor like him shouldn’t want for a date. Still, the question sounded genuine. Would it be bad if Isaac was serious?
“I remember you were seeing a man I thought wasn’t good for your health.” Isaac leaned on the doorway to the kennel area. “He seemed to stress you out.”
“Ross, and yes, he was a pain in my ass. He’s also history.” He laughed. Less stress meant less of a chance of having another stroke. Perfect for him. He swept his gaze over Isaac. Len always thought the good doctor was handsome, and his son, Aiden, should’ve snapped him up. He’d never asked why they hadn’t gotten together; it wasn’t his business to know.
“Why are you laughing?” Isaac asked.
He gathered his breath. “For a second, I thought you were asking me out. Like you were interested in me.” He laughed again. “Wow. I laughed too hard. My ribs hurt.” And he was hiding his true feelings. Part of him wanted to be asked out by a handsome, younger man.
“Oh.” Isaac’s cheeks reddened, and he pushed off the doorframe. “Yeah, I’m just checking on your health.” He chuckled.
If Len wasn’t mistaken, he’d just offended Isaac. Shit. He had to fix the situation but wasn’t sure how. “I’m glad someone cares about me.” Did that sound silly? God. At sixty-two, he still wasn’t good with dating.
“Aiden doesn’t check?” Isaac’s eyes widened.
“No, he does.” Fucking hell. Now he’d really stepped in it. “He and his fiancé, Matt, make sure we get together every weekend. We have dinner and take the dogs out for playtime. I hooked them up with the perfect dog from the shelter here.” He toyed with the door of the closest empty kennel. “If you’re looking for a dog, then follow my pup, Cissy. She knows how to pair people with dogs. Plus, she’s good at finding the one dog who needs someone most. She’s a sweet girl and loves everyone.”
“That’s cool. She’s pretty.” Isaac petted Cissy. “You’re a pretty girl. I’m surprised no one has tried to adopt you.”
“Oh, they do. Every other day, I have to explain she’s not available.”
Isaac waggled his head “I’ve got a cat, but Ollie needs a friend.”
“Is he a dog kind of cat?”
“He thinks he’s a dog.” Isaac’s blush faded a bit. “I think he’d like a medium-sized dog to play with.”
“He might.” He toyed with Cissy’s leash. He hadn’t hooked it onto her but should. Instead, he thought about the dogs in the shelter. Who would be good for Isaac? “I’ve got an older boy back here… We’ve named him Stan, but I’m guessing you’ll come up with something better. He’s probably who you’re looking for. Let’s see who Cissy picks.”
She led Isaac over to Stan’s kennel. The dog whimpered. Len opened the door and petted Stan. “This guy is a sweet older man who needs a caring owner to love him. Stan is Cissy’s buddy. She knows how to comfort him.” He turned his attention to Stan. “Hey, guy. Did you miss Cissy?”
She scooted around Len and cuddled up to Stan. The hound dog stayed beside her, but sniffed Isaac’s hand.
“Want to go for a walk?” Len asked. He’d already walked Stan for the day, but hey, freedom was freedom. Cissy perked up and Stan wiggled. Len offered the leash to Isaac. “Might as well get used to him. I think he likes you.”
Isaac held out his hand. Stan sniffed him again and didn’t back away.
“That’s a good start. He’s not cowering.” Len smiled. “Let’s walk.” He patted his hip for Cissy, then navigated through the shelter to the fenced-in run. “Let Stan get used to being with you on the leash. Since there aren’t any other dogs out here, you’ll be allowed to let him run with Cissy after a bit.”
“He doesn’t strike me as a Stan, but I kind of like the name.” Isaac petted Stan. “It seems right, but I’m not sure.”
“I don’t know. It would be cute with your cat, Ollie. Stan and Ollie?” He laughed. “It’s kismet.”