At the trailhead Zora always lingers too long, inhaling the scent of other dogs who’ve peed on the boulder by the kiosk, ferreting out who’s squatted in the sage, heavy with flowering stems.
“Hurry up,” I say. “Spending too much time here is like reading a dime store romance. The story’s way better up ahead, I promise.”
And it is. Off the leash, she frolics, radiating wider and wider until she finds some deer and is gone for twenty minutes. Too long. I worry about her driving the chase into a street over the ridge. I worry whether she’ll be able to find me when she’s finished running that story down, creating and telling it all at once.
Over the ridge I can hear her syncopated deer song, high and yearning, joyful.
She always comes back, tongue out, sides heaving, sharing her adventures through that Sherlock of a nose she bumps against my thigh and those eyes, wild and dark.
I pretend to be mad. I put her on the leash and ask her if it’s worth it to lose her freedom by going so far away.
But I know the answer already. Next to storytelling about others, running to find me with her nose to the ground is her quest.
If she could talk, she’d say she can’t invite me along to chase deer, because then there’d be no me to come back to.