My daily commute to downtown Atlanta, by run or bike, takes me through several parks, one of which is a unit of the National Parks Service. Auburn Avenue is the heart of the Sweet Auburn Historic District, boasting many historic structrues and sites, not least of which is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
The park’s most-visited structure is MLK, Jr.’s boyhood home, in front of which you will see visitors from all over the world posing for photographs almost any time the sun is up. I am obsessed with National Parks, so it is a great pleasure to pass through or by here several times daily.
And often as I pass, I see Doug Coyle.
I only learned his name last week, when we happened to pass each other on the sidewalk. I glanced down at his name tag. For four years now I have seen Doug and his dog trotting to or from the MLK, Jr. site; occasionally on the train, if I take it; or waiting at corners for traffic to pass. Never walking: always trotting, a slow jog. Since I have seen them on the train, I imagine they get off at Peachtree Center or Five Points, just over a mile away.
I haven’t wanted to know more about them, because I simply enjoy seeing them. They remind me of my mother and her service dog. They seem like two buddies just heading to the office. They are for me as much a part of that historic, varied and interesting streetscape as anything else.
If you visit Atlanta, make certain you check out Auburn Avenue. Go to the MLK, Jr. National Historic Site, the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, walk the Freedom Walk. And if you see Doug, say hello.