Detlev felt exhilarated and full of life when he started his usual jog at 6:00 am that morning. At that time it was still very quiet in the small forest near his home. It felt good to be alone and still be outside. But it wasn’t just the morning freshness that put him in such high spirits, but he hoped to see the girl with the red curly hair and the big brown dog again, who also regularly ran here. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as he found out. And sure enough, after taking the first bend and seeing the only slightly longer straight ahead, they came into view. Quickly, but without haste, the two of them, harmoniously side by side, covered the distance, whereby the dog with its long legs just needed a light trot to keep up with its owner.
Detlev would have spoken to her long ago if it hadn’t been for his fear of dogs, and this specimen was a relatively large one. Of course, there were bigger ones, but above all more frightening ones, because this one was muscular, but not beefy. Nevertheless, he plucked up courage and put on a little to catch up with the couple. When he was level, he spoke to her.
„Hello!“ he said.
„Hello!“ the girl replied and gave him a smile that seemed genuine and open, so that he dared to bother her with her request.
„You have a nice, quiet dog there,“ he said, „I’m afraid of dogs. Do you think I could use him for exposure therapy?” She stopped abruptly and looked at him.
„Are you serious?“, she asked, „You don’t even know my dog. Maybe he is not suitable at all.”
„That’s why I’m asking you, you know your dog,“ Detlev didn’t let himself be dissuaded from his plan.
„That’s true,“ she replied, „Well, let’s see what he has to say about that.“ With that she turned to the dog, who had sat down in the meantime and seemed rather disinterested. „What do you mean Bakari, would you like to get to know this person here?“ When his name was mentioned, he looked into his mistress‘ green eyes and then followed her finger, which pointed to Detlev. He looked at the other human for a moment before slowly getting up and walking towards him to sniff him out. Then he sat down again at his feet.
„What does that mean now?“ he asked, so quietly that he could hardly be heard.
„Now you can pet him if you want,“ the owner replied.
„And how?“ he said unsure. Instead of an answer, the woman crouched down and gently stroked the dog’s flank. „So,“ she said simply. Detlev did the same. Although he was convinced that the dog she had named Bakari sensed how insecure he was, he sat calmly and relaxed and let Detlev’s first tentative stroking pass over him.
„You’re doing very well,“ the owner encouraged him and smiled at him, „However, he is also fabulously suited to it. He is calm itself.”
„Yes, I notice that“ said Detlev, „By the way, I’m Detlev. Thanks for your help.“
„My name is Sabrina,“ she replied, „and this is Bakari, but you already know that.“
„May I ask you something?“ Detlev replied hesitantly.
„Of course, always out with your question,“ Sabrina asked him.
„What’s wrong with his fur, I mean, the stripe on his back, that’s where the hair grows backwards,“ he said, amazed.
„That’s right, it’s a trait inherited from this breed that gave it its name, Rhodesian Ridgeback,“ explained Sabrina.
„Interesting,“ said Detlev, „I’m glad to meet you,“ he added, turning to Bakari, suddenly realizing that he was actually talking to a dog. He never would have thought that this would be possible.
„Have you had bad experiences with dogs or where does your fear come from?“ Sabrina tore Detlev out of his thoughts.
„I was bitten once as a child,“ he said succinctly. „The dog seemed huge to me at the time, although it was probably not half the size of yours, but I was a child at the time and I think it rather pinched me when bitten, but the fear was there with it.”
„And how are you now?“ Sabrina asked.
„Very good,“ said Detlev, „but he also seems to be a special dog. Well, I won’t approach every dog with an open mind, but I won’t run away anymore either.“
„I’m very happy about that,“ she replied and gave him her gentle smile again, „speaking of running, what do you think, do we want to run together?“
And that’s what they did, on this morning and on many others, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.