Crisp and clean the air this day as we walk your favorite trail. The autumn teases us, the rains have come and gone but this day is thankfully, bright. Perfect. We dodge a hailstorm of black walnuts and I threaten to retrieve both hard hats from the trunk of the car. We walk in unison and you, suddenly remembering your independence dance away from me and back as if I plan to stop you. No longer fearful of the concrete fairies in the grass, you run to greet them now. A flock of birds breathe life into the trees above us, beginning their song, then suddenly stopping over and over again. Forever following your nose, you don't seem to notice them at all.
I sing your praises the entire way, telling you more than once how beautiful you are, how you are ninety nine point three percent a perfect dog and that I will love you forever until one of us is dead. You are thrilled as always to be outside soaking up the sun. I love how you know your way around this place, the first trail on which I ever took you walking. You turn the corner into the woods in just the right place bringing us to where the two creeks join each other and the thirty foot umbilical cord between us gives me room to pass you on the right as you stop to investigate something on the ground. Continuing on, around the bend a short distance, I stop and patiently wait for you behind a tree, imagining the entire time that you can feel my heartbeat trailing down the leash and around your still-soft belly.
Breathing in the sweet, luminous air, I eventually drop the leash to test my theory, firm in the belief that you will sense my departure and come looking for me. Nothing happens. I peek around the tree. I gaze lovingly at your magnificently cute backside with those swirls of hair, and your tail still wagging quietly thirty feet away, you are engrossed. I walk slowly back to where you're standing, only to find my reverie set on fire by the fact that you are busy making lunch of a rather large pile of something expelled from the belly of a big raccoon.