Out back of our place is a little piece of trail that leads to some doubletrack. I don’t know what that doubletrack is or used to be, maybe an old mine road, or maybe the town put it in as some kind of service road. Back in the floods they used it after the fact to throw in some gambions and build a bit of a spillway for a seasonal creek, and before then they used it to backfill a couple of mine pits that opened up one spring. But mostly it sits unused for any formal purpose, and it is overgrown with dandelion and plantain, and the odd bits of yarrow growing among the weeds along the side. For the better part of sixteen years we’ve walked that trail twice a day.

Sixteen years ago we walked our first dog, Chloe, along that road, never on leash because back then there was never anybody else back there to wag their finger at us. She wasn’t licensed with the town either. Sometimes the neighbor dog in the back, a little terrier mutt named Winston would come along with us, and he would run circles into the woods and come back to the trail where Chloe would clobber him. We joked that she was telling him to stay on the trail, but he did his own thing.

A few years later we got Maggie. She was the most beautiful dog, pure white with a black nose and dark eyes. When we found her at the SPCA her spirit was destroyed, but we went back a week later with Chloe and the two of them met. During that meeting Maggie eventually grew comfortable and curious, and while I sat on the ground she hesitantly walked over, smelled my face and licked my cheek. She came home with us a few days after.

Along the doubletrack Maggie would run off into the woods. She was a bit feral, so we worried constantly that she wouldn’t come back. One time she got on a scent and was out of sight for hours. But mostly, she would disappear while we walked with Chloe until we would see a flash of white just off the doubletrack in the trees. She wouldn’t walk with us often, but she was never far. She watched us from just inside the treeline, overseeing, protecting.

Chloe passed and then we got Dublin, the big brown dog. He was unlike the other two; submissive and timid, an animal more in need of love and tenderness than food and water. Dublin stays on the doubletrack but runs in front. He follows Maggie who no longer wanders, and if she barks and stumbles toward something he is instantly alert and ready. He takes care of Maggie, and us.

Of all that comprises the Rocky Mountains, I will miss one thing beyond all else, one thing that is more part of my being than any other place. That doubletrack in our backyard where we raised our dogs, where we cried in the woods alone or together, where we laughed and got drunk and played in the snow. Where we ran and biked and mostly just walked, where we harvested poplar buds late in the winter. Of all the miles and miles of terrain available to us, I will miss this four hundred metres of it the most.

Our hearts are closer and stronger than we think.



  1. Jeanette Hingst-Aishford on September 14, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Didn’t know ya’, KD. Love it.

    • K D on September 14, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks Jeanette! I’m curious how you found the post?

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