Snow arrived early this year in Montana and has continued to layer its white frosting here each week. I have two large snow-loving dogs who demand two walks a day. Since the “pups” get bored on the same trails around my neighborhood, my wife and I mix it up and take turns visiting the area dog parks. As you can imagine in Montana these can be large and expansive.
The paths at the park can be hard-packed and at times slippery. On Monday, I took Timmey and Kobey to socialize with the other dogs there. The trail at this park follows the fence line in a big loop, with no trees or bushes at this former hay field, just wide open tundra. As I started on the trail I noticed way ahead of me a slow-moving rather hunched-over individual holding stabilizing ski poles in each hand. By the man’s side, his obedient Golden retriever plodded alongside. My stride and energetic dogs reached him in a few minutes. He paused and turned around as my dogs greeted him and his companion. Usually, I say hello, let the dogs sniff each other, and continue on my walk. This time I introduced myself; his name was Tony and he told me he had just turned 93.
As we walked along at a crawl I learned he was once an architect who helped build the Kansas City Airport back in the late sixties. “We didn’t foresee hijackings or TSA when we designed the place, how would we have known?” If you’ve ever visited the soon-to-be demolished airport you know what he means.
After his wife’s passing, he moved to Bozeman from Arkansas to be closer to his children. He told me about all the dogs he raised over the years and the sad demise of one of his favorites, a Black Lab named Hank. As we returned to the start of the trail Tony paused for a moment and thanked me for walking with him and listening to his story. We said our goodbyes and I walked back to my truck wiping a tear or two from my eyes. We all have stories to tell if someone is just willing to listen.
Telling and listening to stories is a valuable craft from either end. Our OOH narrative needs to be illustrated by well-crafted photos. Each tells its own story of the power and strength of this industry. We can’t allow advertisers to pass us on the trail to some bigger medium. We have a story to tell and it’s a good one.