Every morning after breakfast, just as the blackness outside our windows is diluted to a cold blue light, Bear gets up from her bed with a grunt and heads for the door. With a glance over her shoulder and a stomp of a paw she demands to go outside for her morning wander in the woods. Sometimes she is gone for more than 20 minutes. We're not sure exactly where she walks, sometimes she comes back up the path from our driveway and sometimes down the trail from our woods, the trail that eventually leads up the path to that dog on the hill.
One morning as I sat at the kitchen table drinking my tea and waiting for her to return, I caught sight of her black shape swaying confidently down the trail, weaving around errant sticks and sprays of dogwood emerging at precarious angles from the hardened snow. I imagined the sound of crunching ice beneath her feet as she marched proudly past the kitchen windows, her prize clamped triumphantly in her mouth.
Where did you find that, Bear?
A week later, she came home with the other one.