Dale’s ears twitched and pulled his head around. After a moment the boy heard it too, rumbling over the creekbed like floodwarning, so that he tensed for a second, thighs tight with suppressed movement. Dale followed the sound, head high and far from the ground. The boy followed Dale, digging his hands into the dirt and grass of the bank. Dale was a purposeful brown line in the distance when he rested at the top.
It came again, the sound, more clearly here above the wash, a high man’s voice or a low woman’s crying “Breathe!” He whistled to hold Dale and dodged between the bushes after him. Dale was whining, wanting to be after the voice. The boy put his hand between the dog’s shoulders, worked his fingers deep into the shaggy coat. Dale leaned into him but didn’t stop whining. “Go,” said the boy, and Dale was off again, tail stiff with purpose.
The voice rang from the gnarled windburned pines and the sharp, low-growing sage. Dale was crouched above a hollow, belly worked in among the dry reeds that bearded the edge. “Breathe!” sang through the air, ruffled Dale’s fur, plucked at the boy’s clothes.