Two Dogs In The Woods

Jack was a well-known dog in a small community and one of those dogs who could smile. He spent a lot of time out on trails with his family.

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Wild forest creatures

Almost ten years ago my son and his friend went hiking and asked if they could take our young dog, Arwen. Most of you know this story so I won’t go into detail. The boys went bushwhacking off trail and Arwen ended up stuck on a boulder on the Index Town Wall. Luckily she was smart enough (or scared enough) to stay put on her boulder until help came.

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Morning Star climbing route on the Wall

But back to Jack. The search started late so it was getting dark. And it was raining. At one point I was waiting for Jack’s mom, who was coming with a backpack loaded with ropes and gear.

I sat in the middle of the narrow trail in the woods. The rain fell steadily, pattering on leaves and ferns, on raincoat, and dog. The light was that misty twilight where you can still see, but not that well. And being in the woods, it was that special shade of shadowy green that you only get in the rain. The woods stretched out above and below me as we were in a steep area. Everything around me was wet and lush as only a temperate rainforest can be.

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Jack pressed up against my side and I had my arm around him. I was worried and scared for our dog, and getting a bit scared for those out looking for her. Eventually we agreed it wasn’t safe to go further in the coming dark, especially when we didn’t know exactly where she was and the terrain was steep. But at that particular moment, there Jack and I sat.

Every so often Jack would let loose with a single bark that would echo away from us. And off in the distance I would hear a plaintive little bark echo in return. Arwen was out there somewhere alone. Except that Jack was talking to her. I wondered at the time what he told her.

‘Stay put, we’re coming for you.’

‘What kind of idiot dog gets stuck on a rock?’

What makes that particular moment such a vivid memory is that in spite of being almost sick with fear for our dog, it was oddly peaceful. I could have sat out there forever, with the sounds of water and the smells of wet forest and wet dog. I remember shivering, and feeling Jack occasionally shiver, but there was a stretch of warmth between us where we sat against each other. There was the sound and scents of rain and earth. And the quiet peace of being alone in the woods.

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Well, except for the barking conversation going on.

When I was in Denmark in July it was dry and hot. Record-breaking heat, relentless sun beating down on my head, unending crowds of people. I craved rain and rushing rivers and water.

And I remembered that twilight with Jack. Fear and worry and stress aside, it was a perfect moment.

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Getting old, sometimes not too bright, but still a sweetheart