Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Whining confusion, the dog looked up where her head lay in the old man’s lap. She first looked up at her favorite human through one eye then another, then lifted her head to stare across the swollen mud-choked stream where the rest of the pack just crossed with their herds and looked back in question. Her human just raised his hand and patted her matted, wet fur between her ears, settling her jaw onto his leg as she continued to stare at him.
A sneeze took her, finally clearing the mud from her nostrils allowing her to smell the spring flowers surrounding them. The churned soil from the passing of their many beasts and peoples provided a pleasant underscent to the floral smells, nearly overpowering the wet odor of ice snow melt and rain runoff from half-frozen ground carried by the waterway.
She was sick of the water. The sky fell in broken drops nearly every day since the family had started walking from the flat den to the mountain den. Everywhere streams, trickles, rivers, and creeks carved new passages, stealing the joy of running and herding into an arduous task with sucking-slipping paws. She wasn’t sure why her human had decided to leave the others.
He had gone down to the water with everyone else, her pups and their mates and their pups and humans. Even gone into the twisting waters with the others. But the water was deeper than the others they had crossed on the walk since the snows started melting. She barely paddled across and collapsed on the far shore panting. When she realized he hadn’t followed, she had to swim back and nearly didn’t make it. Swimming wasn’t like running; it tired her. Maybe that was it. He was tired and needed to rest before swimming.
Her nose nudged into his palm, and he lifted it to pet her again. Down the neck and across the back, soothing the soreness in her joints and spine. She had lived a long time with this human, and her body creaked nearly as much as his did.
Finally, he said something in that strange soft speech of theirs ending with “Come on.” She started for the creek again before realizing his scent was getting more distant and looked over her shoulder. Blinking once to clear her failing eyesight, she verified he was walking AWAY from the pack scent trail. A whine escaped between her teeth. But he was her human, so she ran to catch up with him.
(words 420 – first published 4/24/2016)