“But I want to extol not the sweetness nor the placidity of the dog, but the wilderness out of which he cannot step entirely, and from which we benefit. For wilderness is our first home too, and in our wild ride into modernity with all its concerns and problems we need also all the good attachments to that origin that we can keep or restore. Dog is one of the messengers of that rich and still magical first world. The dog would remind us of the pleasures of the body with its graceful physicality, and the acuity and rapture of the senses, and the beauty of forest and ocean and rain and our own breath. There is not a dog that romps and runs but we learn from him.
The other dog—the one that all its life walks leashed and obedient down the sidewalk—is what a chair is to a tree. It is a possession only, the ornament of a human life. Such dogs can remind us of nothing large or noble or mysterious or lost. They cannot make us sweeter or more kind.
Only unleashed dogs can do that. They are a kind of poetry themselves when they are devoted not only to us but to the wet night, to the moon and the rabbit-smell in the grass and their own bodies leaping forward.”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
There is a particular hour at dusk, just before the sky turns from deep shades of indigo into ink black, when I see a shift in Bowie. No longer is she content to lope around my feet as I go about farm chores, no longer is she interested in belly rubs or ear strokes, and no longer (quite frankly) is she interested in any of the two legged creatures still hanging about in her company.
Instead, she takes up her night time post – the one from which she can see the house, the barn, and both pastures – back erect, and eyes scanning up and down our farm. At a second’s notice, she can leap up and race to wherever she senses danger, her booming bark echoing down our valley and up into the hills beyond. Often, that is the last sight I have of Bowie at night: a lone white wolf, flying from one end of the pasture to the other, keeping steadfast watch over her sheep and her people, poetry in motion.