I never hear them howl.
In the movies, their mournful yodel fills the night. In the suburbs, we know them only when our bichons go missing from the back yard.
Her I see on a gray mid-morning while out for a walk with Rose, a real dog, 35 pounds of meat packed tight as a sausage in a thick, furry skin. I don’t know why I assume she is a female. What do I know about the wild? She has a delicate narrow face. Purposeful eyes. An oddly comfortable stride. I’ll give it to her.
She is sauntering eastward down the middle of Milburn. At George, she stops and looks both ways, apparently pondering which to choose. She hasn’t noticed us yet. She continues west.
We follow. It is our territory now. Our time. Our morning. Is this why we never hear her howl?
Midway to Albert, she stops to scratch and spies us. She scratches more but does not share our curiosity. Rose strains at the leash. Her breaths saw forth in anxious, husky rasps. “Rosie, behave! Heel,” as though she will pay any more attention than the skinny gray beast we stalk.
At Albert, the wild dog stops literally in the middle of the crossroad and squats. I consider trying a picture, but, sadly, ill-fitted for the age, I am not all thumbs. The camera phone is an awkward brick in my hands. Besides, who wants to see pictures of a hunching arc of mange shitting in the street?
Though I bet that’s not something you seen often. Facebook would surely love it, with some witty social or political statement about Obama or Cruz or Trump or Clinton or Mondays or the Opposite Sex or merely Life Itself overlaying.
Still, I want to respect her dignity. Though dignity doesn’t seem to be her concern, having chosen about as wide open a spot for defecation as you can find in a suburban neighborhood. She finishes, then scurries southward down Albert too quickly for Rosie and me to catch up.
She is gone. Back to the silent black and the nightmares of white bichons.
I cannot resist scatalogical curiosity. Rose and I wander into the middle of the street. I wonder if her shit might suggest what she’s been eating. I cross my fingers for bits of skunk. No such luck. Pretty much just a moist pile of amber mud. Rose aches to sniff it. I am not THAT curious.
One last thought. This is the second time I’ve seen her in the past month. I understand now the term “coyote ugly.” Her regal diffidence notwithstanding, her matted mantle brings to mind some tufted, molty shag rescued from the attic. I cannot imagine her, if her she be, singing in the dark.