Song of the dog at the door

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The house can barely contain her now, its four-cornered world no match for what calls to the dark forest from within. A flimsy summer cottage of a house, full of strangers, windows thrown open, their screens torn away at the sill, the better to admit small animals in the night.

She’s at the back door with the leashed dog, looking out across grass to a scene at the forest edge. A man and a boy are there with four German Shepherds, an adult male and three pups. The middle pup is posed on an overturned garbage can, its throat tied with a complicated rope, its wild enthusiasm spilling over. The man works hard to pose it while the boy aims a camera, but the puppy is too rambunctious and won’t stop moving.

The dog at the door can barely contain her enthusiasm. The woman works hard to control her, tugs on the leash, causing the dog to yelp. The leash has rubbed a sore red line across the base of her throat, an indictment of self-censorship.

Ah, my dear companion, so long domesticated, your wildness seethes just beneath your skin. Even when asleep, you dream of running, of chasing rabbits and squirrels, of guiding your master through the depths when she has lost her way. You send this reminder in the night: speak up, find what you have lost, be loyal to the inner voice of truth.

Release me and watch as I bolt across that grass to the edge of wildness to join my kindred. I do not fear the unknown, nor do I turn away from death. I dig in the moist ground; I bury and unearth, an ambassador between worlds.

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