Lying squarely on his broad back, staring quizzically into the pitch black Stan asked his wife, “Did I just say, ‘…the un-reined manifestation of my buddy’s subconscious.’”
Roxanne stopped giggling for a moment and quipped “Sure did.” Then cuddled up closer to her awakening husband.
“Why did I say that?”
“Because I asked you why your buddy’s dog was whining.” Stan could hear Gizmo whimper now. The soft complaints came from the boathouse adjoining the cabin. “Her mate is gone with John and the boys up the river. Do you think she’s lonely? Oh, the poor little dear.” Cooed big-hearted Roxanne. “But we just can’t let her in.” Their family lovingly described Gizmo’s mate as “a big drooling monster”. Gizmo herself though only twenty pounds possessed coarse curly fur that made her look twice as big. Within the grip of her ebony locks lay fallen spruce twigs, dried up sheaths of grass, moss; both from the muskeg and fallen from the alders and the aroma not of the scented woodlands and alpine mountains, but rather of the potent aroma of the muskeg pools she’d swam in several times that day. Plus this close to the ocean, it still rained regularly and both dogs were constantly drenched. “I’ll go tell her she is a good dog, but to go lay down.”
Scan Scamander stayed wake long enough to enjoy the site of his wife donning a shear enticing robe and with hips swaying slip from the room. The last thing he saw was his wife’s womanly form silhouetted against the light of the oil lamp strategically placed in the hall way for the benefit of all the occupants of their summer place. Maybe he heard an ancient lullaby, “Sleep my baby, and let the sea sleep, let our trouble sleep: let some change appear.” The next thing he heard for certain was two hours later; an urgent soft howl. Stan rose naked from the bed like a puppet yanked up by its strings.
“Maybe she needs to go outside.” Roxanne worried aloud, but in her husky whisper clearly something else worried her.
Stan’s massive right hand lifted the lamp from its niche in the wall as with heavy step he passed. “Good girl. Good girl Gizmo.” he whispered encouragingly as his left hand engulfed the door knob.
The boat house was empty of course and yes there were a couple of piles of dog stuff there. Stan didn’t know that on the rare occasions Gizmo has accidents she was normally embarrassed and sorrowful. She would keep her head down and eyes averted. But this night, her entire shaggy body wagged at the arrival of the giant of a man. They went for a stroll around the grounds in the light of a half moon and sheer over-cast that veiled half the Alaskan sky. Gizmo curled up in her bed after their walk, Stan cleaned up her messes, washed his hands…several times and returned to bed.
Roxanne burst into tears when she realized that the “poor little dog” had needed to go outside not to be told by her Aunty Roxanne “to go lay down”. Stan comforted her and absently blamed himself aloud and he returned to sleep as easily as a river flows down its course.
In the morning, Stan rose from his bed early. Most days of his life he spent the morning swimming in the Karamenderes River back home. But, the Stikine would do just fine. The “poor little dog” walked cockily beside him as Stan headed for the glacial water. She circled, sniffed and growled at spots in the grass he’d cut yesterday, but it wasn’t until they reached the sandy bank, that he understood her behavior. There were tracks in the sand, they were too large to be Gizmo’s and too many and too diverse to be old prints left by her huge mate.
Stan’s family always kept an eye out for brown bear along the banks of the Stikine. But, they’d never seen wolves before.