Guide Dog

“Chewie” Pet Portrait by Grace Hansen

The paths in the woods behind our house have different qualities that make them special the smaller of the two has a large population of house wrens that sound their alarm calls in the spring when we hike past their invisible nearby nests and a much smaller patch of hard to find fawn Lillies their pale faces nodding over their deeply mottled spear shaped leaves, each year there are more of both though I’ve never seen a single fawn lily on the other path which is found on the other side of a large clear cut depressing but for the wild Columbine their fiery red and yellow blossoms dancing on thin spring green stems and the morels in spring that path is an animal trail cut into the forest by the elk through a stand of blackberry brambles our stock dogs are the first on both trails followed by our terrier then the chihuahua, my husband, daughter and finally me though the trail is well used by the elk it is not particularly clear vegetation laps over our feet like waves at the beach and I don’t hike it often also I am heavy and easily winded so I am slower than everyone else, soon I find myself alone in amongst the fir trunks like columns in a mosque stretching out in every direction above a surface of vegetation as thick and impenetrable as a floor of marble, there are so many switch backs leading up the hill soon I can hear but not see the others I stop now and then to get my bearings, to recognize a leaning maple sapling, scan the false Solomon’s seal to catch a glimpse of the trail amongst the heavy growth, brush my fingertips against the shining yellow faces of the sunny wood violets, tap the delicate lavender twin flowers making them dance, pick up clumps of lichen and place them gingerly into the pockets of my sweatshirt so I can take them home and draw them later the air is so still and quite I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t find my way out but then I hear one of the dogs bark and another then my husband call to them the stock dogs get all the credit for their herding abilities, their athleticism, their smarts and the terrier earns all the accolades for her voracious hunting prowess, her wildness, her ability to find us no matter how far we’ve gone from where she left us but it’s the chihuahua who’s thought to be good for nothing but sleeping and barking incessantly who comes racing back down the path pushing through the sword ferns that grow over his head to find me standing alone breathing heavily with the elevation trying to remember the next turn he’s the one who’s noticed I’m not there and finds my absence unacceptable, he’s the one who’s come to guide me out of this lost place.

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1 thought on “Guide Dog

  1. Grace

    G O. O
    G. GGGG. O. O
    G. G. O. O

    O. O. D. DDDD
    O. O. D. D
    O. O. D. DDDD


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