Aki and I have spent sometime together almost every day since she arrived on Chicken Ridge. That was nine years ago. Still, I don’t understand her complicated ways. I know that she lacks the focus of a sled dog. Aki would never be content to trot at ten miles an hour as the tail of a teammate swishes before her face. She is capable of love but on her terms. The little poodle-mix never shows the blind affection of a Labrador retriever.
This morning she refused my invitation to take a walk. Only after I left the house did she dash from her nest on the couch arm to cry at the door. When we arrived at the Gastineau meadows trail, Aki shot of the car and showed her usual interest in animal signs. But near the edge of the first meadow, where Mt. Juneau and the Sheep Mountain ridge seem to curl like a giant’s fingers around us, she stopped. Cocking her head in apparent amazement that I wanted to continue up the trail, she refused to move. As she expected, I soon joined her on a quick trip to the car.
Aki whined as the old Subaru struggled up Main Street and turned onto the ridge. She wriggled in my arms as I carried her to the house and burst through the door when it opened. I found her in the kitchen where the scent of tea and toasted rye bread lingered, where a plate with smörgås scraps rested on the counter. Aki stared at the woman who ate the open-faced sandwich and now held up a tiny piece of goat’s cheese. The dog walked toward the cheese on her rear legs. The little genius knew that while she kept me company on Gastineau meadows, someone at home was eating cheese. Rule number one for understanding Aki. It is always all about the cheese.