I sit on the back deck, glass of red wine in my hand, rocking back and forth, back and forth. Tom has to work late, so I'm covering the evening meal for him.
Max is stretched out in front of his food bowl. Belle is just a few feet away near hers. The sun has dropped below the trees, leaving a smudge of pink on their tips. From there the sky deepens to a rich blue with only tiny wisps of cloud marring the perfection.
The air pulses with the beat of the cicadas, a back and forth, up and down, see-sawing song that drowns out everything else.
But Max somehow hears something else through the din and he's up on his feet in one fluid movement, despite his dysplasiatic knees and hips, bounding to the end of the deck in Tigger fashion, barking, barking, barking, assisted by his sidekick Belle, who isn't quite sure what they're barking at, but she's got his back, nonetheless.
I praise his ferocity and courage. Satisfied I'm convinced he protected me from imminent danger, he stops barking and wanders back down the deck to eat, but bending down to the bowl hurts his elbows, so I set down my glass and hold the bowl up off the ground for him, braced against my knees, ignoring the pain in my lower back until he finishes the last morsel.
That's the least I could do for someone who just saved my life, isn't it?
Ah, sweet Max.
Aren't you through yet, Mom?
Just one more, Maxey, I promise. Now smile!
Okay, how's this?