A Dog's Life

The secret path

In Greyberry Woods we found a path barely visible along the edge of a mowed field. Sam had long legs and loved to walk in the woods, and together we explored it one day to see what lay between the trees. The path twisted and turned, made its way under a fallen branch and over a long-lost stump, finally turning left back to the main trail. We covered every path inch of that park, to extend our walks, to expand our time.

After the first day, Sam would lead me, eager to make his way along the now-familiar path, looking back occasionally to be sure I followed him.

Sometimes he took the stump like a hurdle. I loved that. I taught him by going over it myself, instead of around. “Come on, Sam,” I would say, smiling at him. “Up and over!”

Those were the days when he still took off after the squirrels, the Grey Berries he prayed would fall from the sky into his waiting mouth.

Hoagie and I don’t go there often. It’s Sam’s place and mine, just the two of us. We learned how to be dog and master there, after Molly, when the two dog family became a one dog family. I learned you could trust some dogs off the leash, and loved roaming with him, finding new patterns to walk around a city park.

Hoagie with his vacation family.

But Hoagie is lonesome for his vacation family, and he doesn’t want to walk in the neighborhood. He wants to go for a ride, perhaps thinking every ride might take him back to that other two dog family we visited. So after dinner tonight, I took him to Greyberry Woods, and I parked on a different edge, in the little parking lot that leads to two different paths, and we wandered rather aimlessly, for he is a dawdler. The mown field has gone wild, the grass almost as tall as I am in some places. No one is throwing a ball for a dog; you might lose both in it.

But something in me wanted to take the little path, just over on the left. It’s better-worn now, though I have never seen another dog or person on it. I walked out ahead of Hoagie, as I always do, and turned back every so often to call him. He remains sublimely unconcerned, eventually resuming his walk after sniffing the delicious odors of the tiny urban forest — other animals, stale beer, moldering pine needles, ridiculously large mushrooms.

Then came a moment when I turned, and realized he was looking for me. And when he found me, he ran! That portly gentleman of a dog ran!

O, how I love the secret path at Greyberry Woods.

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