The way Aki is panting, you’d think we were crossing the Gobi Desert in high summer. The little dog and I are on a mountain meadow warmed by the sun to 67 degrees (f.)—what we call Tee Shirt weather. Aki can’t strip off her coat of fur so is overheating.
I turn to mutter something to her about the abundant of bog rosemary flowers on the meadow and find that the little dog has moved to a shady verge. She looks content, like she could stay there until nightfall.
A loyal little thing, the poodle-mix follows me across the open meadow, past pocket ponds dry due to lack of rain. I lead her off the meadow toward the lush corridor of trees and brush drained by upper Fish Creek. Just before we reach it, Aki slips into a mud-bottomed stream and lets herself sink in to her chest. She emerges with her lower half coated in a chocolate-colored mask. Once dried, the muck will be almost impossible to remove. Aki trots toward the creek, acting as happy with herself as someone just treated to a spa day.
We find a spot along the creek where I can wash Aki without concern that the current will carry her away. She doesn’t squirm when I lower her into an eddy of the chilling water. She looks a little disappointed when I lift her back to solid ground. But she won’t bolt into the shade or seek out another mud bath when we walk back to the car.