Brown Eyes

She looks tired. Started the day out early chasing rabbits over on the rainbow trail. Then she followed me around the farm when I drove the ranger back in the woods and hauled up a bunch of firewood. We let out the whole pack and went on our usual two mile walk. Fed and watered everyone and went up for lunch. By then it was hot so we turned loose about six more dogs and went down to the river for a swim. Walked upstream a long ways with Buttercup and the rest walking through the shallow parts and swimming when we have to, or just want to.

Lisa’s pride and joy. She used to love to brag on Buttercup to the boys when they came up to hunt. “Which one is Buttercup?” they said. “She’s the one with the soft, brown eyes” Lisa would say. They still call her Brown Eyes.

She’s always there somewhere close by. Never underfoot or begging for attention but always keeping track of me. When you look in those brown eyes you see more intelligence than is common for a dog.

Mostly good but sometimes kind of scrappy with the other dogs. She slips off to go hunting sometimes when she shouldn’t. She’s getting older. Seen some things out there that scared her pretty bad. We have some things in common.

Late at night, no one there anymore except Buttercup, putting me to sleep with her soft snoring, sometimes growling and barking in her sleep, keeping the wolves away.

Last winter was rough. Plenty of deep snow and deeper cold. Buttercup hunted hard, getting it done day after day when the other dogs couldn’t or wouldn’t. Hours at a time. I like the cold. One day in the deep snow the wind was so bad there were trees going down. I couldn’t take it anymore and called her in. She wasn’t happy with me.

The vet said she has a grade 4 heart murmur. Said it’s loud. I can almost hear it without the stethoscope. Maybe she misunderstood what she heard. Maybe a stethoscope isn’t the right tool to listen to a dogs heart.