The bright autumn afternoon heated the back of the house. The garden and deck spread out below in full sun. It was too wonderful a day to be inside. That’s what her dog thought. At least that is what Nevada imagined he was thinking.
Henry, her black and silver Keeshond, stood and paced in a circle. When Nevada didn’t rise, he laid down next to the French doors, letting out a long sigh. Even though she had asked him, he didn’t seem to know what was going on, either.
After twisting her fingers in messy-amber waves and pulling most of it off her neck, she picked up a thick book, promising him, “We’ll go out, later.” She returned to flipping and scanning pages for reasons people set fires. There were several sections. And it wasn’t a book that twelve-year-old’s usually read.
Henry barked. Nevada dropped the book on the sofa and turned her head toward the front of the house.
Someone yelled, “Hey!”
Nevada hobbled to the front door, flinging it wide and as she did, her dog, Henry, flashed by her. He must have heard Amy.
“No.” Nevada saw that her friend was not on Valley Oak Circle. And Nevada, suddenly desperate, charged after her dog. “Henry!” she called, limping halfway down the street before realizing her mistake.
Swiftly, she turned, calling his name, heading toward the house. Clapping and whistling on the porch, she grinned as Henry raced home. He dashed after her into the house. Having narrowly avoided disaster, she slammed the door, pressing her back against the wall.
Henry was panting too. His pink curvy tongue bounced up and down. He was safe yet her heart was still slamming as if she had run a fifty-yard-dash. He leaned against her leg while she slumped to rub behind his ears. I should have made him chase me. Over and over, she reminded herself that he wasn’t hurt. She rubbed under his upturned chin, trying to stop the memory, taking deep, quaking breaths.
She knew even when families have only one dog that dog thinks it’s a member of a pack and looks for a leader. She murmured, “Most dogs have to lead their people because people don’t know. I didn’t know.” Shaking her head, she said, “I didn’t know I was a dog leader. I have to start thinking like a leader.”