There was a study they did on foxes, on domesticating them. They set up shop near a den and began luring the foxes closer with treats and talking to them sweet. Of course the foxes liked it and started sticking around. But they noticed over time, their ears dropped and they turned stupid. At the end of the study the foxes couldn’t go back in the wild for fear they wouldn’t survive.
My dog’s ears flop on the trail ahead of me; they look like hands inside a puppet making a mouth, flapping. But just an hour after sunrise coming around the bend into a valley that’s all quiet she stops, and there’s only the squeaks and peeps of some birds, and her ears stand up, like a fox.
And for a moment with the sun behind her she flickers in and out, a ghost dog, timeless, the spirit of survival threading through her and every dog that’s come before, all that knowing in the senses.
Coming back down the trail it’s warm, it could be the last scent of summer in the air I smell, the last breath of a leaf coaxed out by a breeze, a reminder, how much is left in me.