She continued to grow through that first winter, and we were together several times a day. I could now put my arms around her and hold her, and pull any unwanted intruder from her lovely coat and silky ears. The trust and bond between us became stronger as the winter began to blow away with spring winds that always whirled in a frenzy at the end of March and softened into gentler breezes as the end of April approached. They all rested on our hillside in the warmth of the afternoon sun, their tranquility and contentment a part of the landscape. It was a piece of the beauty of this place that I loved so much, and never a day passed that I did not give thanks for it.
Walking into the yard one day, early in the spring, she approached me slowly and stood at a distance for a moment, rather than advancing in her normal, friendly walk. The gaping wound showed immediately, and I realized without a second thought that she needed medical attention. I dashed for the house while she stood in the yard waiting for my return. Having called the appropriate doctor, who was aware of my experiences with this amazing family, I reappeared with medication that I was directed to use. The doctor had warned me that this sort of treatment, no matter how firm the bond between us was, would most likely not be allowed. Squeezing an entire tube of medication on my hand, and speaking to her softly, we touched noses, which was part of our daily ritual and communication. The medication was applied quickly. She stepped back, but not as abruptly as I had anticipated, and walked towards her mother. My fear of losing her forever was quickly eased when she looked back at me, took a few steps towards me and returned to her mother. I understood the thank you that I had received, even in the silence, as our communication was on a unspoken level. The medication was applied once a day until I was satisfied that no infection had set in, and she was safe.
It was time for her to leave with her family for the summer, and she had left her heavy winter coat behind. Their departure was never announced, as silence and calmness were a part of their being. Their withdrawal never left sadness within me as I understood their unspoken reasons, and looked forward to their return after every leaf of the golden Aspens had fallen in October.
To be continued..........