I feel a surprising amount of courage, coupled with a complete lack of anxiety. I walk toward the barking dog, but he’s so much louder now. The barks are loud, but they don’t seem angry. They seem desperate. The dog starts howling, a deep sad dog cry. The dog looks to be a black lab, female, I think. She runs up to me, faster than I’ve seen a dog run, and she does a running jump against my six foot one frame. I put my arms up to protect my face, while I feel her claws pierce into me a bit. I brace myself for the feeling of teeth ripping into my flesh, but she doesn’t do that. She licks me, licks my arms, licks my hands, licks my face, and jumps on me over and over again. I pet her gently saying: “it’s OK girl. It’s OK beautiful.”
She lays down at my feet and cries, as though she is wounded.
“What’s the matter pretty girl?” I examine her paws, her chest, her ears, her eyes. For a dog that is off leash and off chain, she looks like someone takes good care of her. She appears to be a healthy weight; her fur is dirty as fuck, but her teeth are clean. She lets me examine her without any protest. She just wags her tail and licks me. She lies on her back while I pet her belly. This dog trusts me. This dog knows me. She missed me. I crouch down, which gets her really excited. She’s licking my face as if it were covered with gravy. She has a red collar, with a silver name tag. I look at, while petting her head and seriously say: “stop for one second. I need to read your name tag.”
She doesn’t really know what I want, but she understands the serious tone well enough to stop licking me. The name tag reads: “Tulsa.”