We slow from a crawl to a stop as I park the car. A whine of excitement escapes from his throat. PARK!
Two paws, four paws hit the pavement. We weave down the street to the entrance. Nose immediately to the ground. Jungle Fin has emerged. He is a detective, a hunter, an explorer, taking in as many scents as he can. It is a dance – bob, weave, rush, halt. He steals a look back at me as he flashes his signature grin. His ears are radio antennae, taking in a faint trickling sound as we approach a stream. Stepping stones are new. I teach him – hop, pause. Hop, pause. Hop, pause. Behind me, I hear hop, pause, licklicklick. Hop, pause, licklicklick. He drinks as if this moment is the stream, and there will never be another moment (or stream) this delightful again. Sunlit green surrounds us. The Emerald City. A smile now plays at my lips. Has there ever been a calmer, quieter, prettier afternoon?
I could continue. I could tell you, dear reader, about how our afternoon went from dream to nightmare when two unleashed dogs approached us minutes apart. About how their owners were either not to be found, or turned up their noses at us. At the royal we – a sweet, anxious, leash reactive dog and his well intentioned, anxious, boiling owner. But don’t you prefer to remember it how I’d like to?