Murdoch stands tense and ready on the shorn grass of the meadow at the end of our road, a strip of green, vibrant and fresh after all the rain and then days of warmth and sun. It is hemmed in by a field of marsh grasses, all flattened and bleached after the snow, and a stand of spruce trees, towering to our right and marching away in straight dark lines. Both havens for ticks, and so we stay on the short grass, where ants are visible on a hill nearby and the blackfly, not yet biting, bounce up out of the ground around our faces.
There is a concentrated stillness in Murdoch’s body even as it trembles minutely, like a spring under pressure. Behind him, the stretch of open green grass rolls invitingly towards the mountain where poplar trees stand guard, white stripes topped with spring green of new growth.
Murdoch’s eyes are glued to the Frisbee in my hand as I wind up, turning my shoulder to him. “Ready?” I say, drawing out the y. His eyes widen, his stance drops, he holds his breath for just a moment, and then I hurl the Frisbee away over the field, snap my wrist to let it fly fast and far. Murdoch is already gone, turning a fraction of a second before I release the disc, tearing at the ground with his claws, sending clods of dirt flying behind him as he speeds away.
The Frisbee, angled slightly, curves off to the left and Murdoch scans the sky above his head while he runs faster, then turns abruptly, suddenly as though he has hit a barrier and follows the Frisbee, pouncing on it as it lands with a rustle amongst the long grasses. “Damn it,” I say out loud to the clouds passing overhead. I imagine a herd of ticks stampeding up the thick white blades, leaping from their broken tips to cling to Murdoch’s fur as he charges by.
Murdoch scoops up the Frisbee in his mouth and pounds back to where I stand near the road. He
hands it to me then backs up, tense and ready as I step in closer to scrutinize his fur, see if I can spot any ticks crawling on him. I can’t.
So we play Frisbee, this new game he just learned even though he is five years old, and he runs and runs, snatching it out of the air, chasing it across the ground, leaping through the long grasses again and again until he sprawls at my feet in the green meadow to catch his breath. And his tongue is a million miles long.