Dog had a mind to keep pushing on into the woods. She felt certain that something exciting lay around the corner. She felt that way about every corner. It was early morning and the sun was blaring low through the trees. There was hot light in Dog’s eyes. Man came slowly lumbering up behind her. He held a camera in one hand and a small glass bottle in the other. Water was coming from his face. He didn’t usually take Dog out this early. He didn’t usually take Dog out at all.
He said “come on now. Come on. Give your Charlie a break”.
He walked just past Dog and crunched himself down onto a tree trunk. Dog padded over to him and rested her head on his lap. Ribbons of drool collected on his knee. Man smiled for a minute, drank, and started to whistle a dirty song. Dog recognised the tune, it was a favourite of his. He had been whistling it to himself in the quiet since Woman had gone.
Dust breezed into Dog’s wet nostrils and she sneezed all over Man’s lap. He stopped whistling, stood up, and wiped at his leg.
“Godsake,” he said. “Godsake”.
Man looked Dog in the face, tutted and took another drink. In spite of herself, Dog could feel her tail start to wave back and forth. She blushed underneath her coat. Man moved off down the track and Dog plunged after him, veering over the path and in and out of the bushes. A rabbit zipped out in front of them and Dog traced its vanishing trail with disinterest. A pair of pheasants went chirruping up into the air. Soon they were out and on top of the hill. Man clung to a fencepost and drained the bottle, flinging it into the grass. He pointed to all the little buildings stretched out below and growled. Dog looked further down the track and beat her tail impatiently.