"Who told you that?" the woman asks.
"Umm. A man outside here yesterday..."
The woman shakes her head and picks up a cell phone. She looks at me while she talks:"There's a lady here who says she was told she could walk Fella... Yeah, she says someone told her yesterday... Ok... Bye."
She puts the phone on the counter and shakes her head again. "No. The owner says no. You can't walk the dog."
"Ok." It stings. But I tell her, "Ok. Thanks for... you know... checking for me."
Back outside I break the news to the dog. There's still a little time left in my lunch break so we make the most of it. Just the two of us, a beautiful fall day, and a padlocked chain-link fence. I'm about to leave when one of the men from the shop comes out.
"I just started working here," he tells me. "But I pet this dog every day."
I think I smiled. Or maybe I cried. "Bless you," I say, belying deep atheist tendencies. And then, "Could you make sure he has water too?"
He nods and says, "I'll try."
**** Wednesday The barber's dog is lying on the cement under the truck when I get there around lunchtime. There's no sign of the bathmat I'd brought on Sunday morning. The toy is gone too. I'd seen both yesterday, which makes me think the barber has only been by once since Sunday. The piles of shit in the corner have also been removed.