Recently, my husband and I experienced a Colorado bluebird sky kind of weekend. You know the type. In typical springtime-in-the-Rockies fashion, it didn’t start out that way. In fact, Friday began with alarmingly strong wind gusts, bringing snow flurries that pummeled the landscape from all directions. But the following morning, golden sunshine appeared, warming everything within its reach, prompting happy birdsong that filled the sky. It also seemed to have a group effect on the human population. The sunshine and warmth seemed to spread into a kind of collective giddiness. And that giddiness translated into venturing out into the world, dogs in tow.

My husband and I were drunk on sunshine too, and it motivated us to go out to soak some in. We tucked our toes into sandals, ignoring the white glare of our feet, left our jackets in the car, and took to the streets of downtown Golden. What did we encounter? Many, many people of all shapes and sizes, all manner of dress, and every age imaginable—all out and about like us, soaking in the sunshine. We were thrilled to see that a large percentage had their dogs in tow.

Hardly two steps were taken before encountering a Golden Retriever puppy. I’ve mentioned before how dogs react to my husband. It’s almost as if they recognize in him one of their own and their body language speaks volumes. It becomes clear in seconds that they want to meet him and ideally become best friends forever. A casual observer would swear he must have pockets full of jerky to earn such devotion from every dog he meets. It’s the stuff of wonder. This Golden puppy saw him and began a wiggle-butt, leash-straining appeal. Luckily, the pup’s owners were generous, and he got a good chin nibble out of the exchange. Next, at a crosswalk, there was a ridiculously huge Great Dane on the right, pulling its owner sideways to get close. On the left was a white-faced Cocker Spaniel that pranced and whined to get some attention. Hand to God, Rob is a rock star in the canine world.

Every patio where people were lunching, dogs rested at their feet. Every tulip-filled planter doubled as a parking spot for the pups of shoppers. In a single block, it seemed that every breed was represented. We saw giant dogs and pocket-sized dogs. We saw puppies and old gentlemen. We encountered Bassett Hounds and Labradors, Chihuahuas and even a pair of Tibetan Mastiffs that sauntered down the sidewalk like royalty.

For dog lovers like us, it was a little slice of heaven to be out in the sunshine, mingling with happy people who were thoughtful enough to share the day with their dogs. They couldn’t have known what a boost it was for us. How could they know what effect happy dog energy would have on us? They couldn’t have known how recently we lost our sweet old girl, Mimi. They couldn’t have known that our hearts were broken. What they did know is that there was sunshine and gathering and happiness to be found and they did their part. The dogs seemed to know. Maybe they can see right into the hearts of humans and find the little fissures that appear from loss. At the very least, I’m sure we put off a welcoming, loving invitation to come say hello. And we were often rewarded. To the human passersby, we probably looked like everyone else out and about enjoying the day. Smiles plastered on our faces, eyes behind sunglasses, an easy, unhurried stride, we peeked into store windows, admired the blooming tulip beds, stopped every few feet to pet a dog, and generally absorbed all that good energy. Like sponges, we soaked it in, nourishing our psyches with sunshine and dogs and happiness. I believe we sighed audibly—more than once.

We enjoyed a patio lunch overlooking the creek and the busy pathway below. A wedding was getting ready to begin and we caught a glimpse of the bride as she whisked by in a flurry of white tulle, her bridesmaids surrounding her like colorful flowers. Am I romanticizing a simple day out in good weather? Perhaps. But it is the appreciation of the atmosphere and all it has to offer that makes it so enjoyable—romantic even.

With the exception of the bride and groom on their way down the aisle, it was not a day for lovers. Although we did hold hands, it was a day of sunshine and dogs and happiness. It was a healing slice of heaven that filled the senses. At least that was my takeaway. I, for one, would like to schedule many, many more of those idyllic days to come. I invite you to encourage them as well. My hungry heart says, Bring on the sunshine and bring on the dogs!