The Adventures of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

zoezestBy Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 23

Zoe and Kaja round a corner on the road, and Zoe can smell her old neighborhood. It’s a light scent, but it is there, on the thin November breeze. She can smell the lake that the road crosses, and she can smell the road itself, and the trees and fields alongside it, and the tumble-down blue house that people are working on, and she’s so excited, she begins jumping and leaping around Kaja, and wagging her tail, and barking, and hopping up to lick her friend’s nose.

But it’s a long way from where they are to where they’re going, Zoe knows. And so she settles down, a little, and trots along behind her big red friend.

They pass the mansion, and turn down the road that goes along the lake. Zoe can smell the water and the pines and the particular grass that grows there. She has smelled this all her life, it seems. Most times, when the man took her out in the car, they’d come near here. Sometimes they’d stop, and the man would just sit in the car and listen, and pat Zoe, and talk to her in his calm voice.

And then, Kaja stops. She stands still, and presses her nose onto Zoe’s head, to still the small dog, too. Day is falling into night, and the shadows are deep and cold along the road. Zoe can hear animals moving. She can hear small branches breaking, and she can hear leaves moving.

Then, a deer stalks out of the woods. It’s a young buck, tall and heavy, the color of the fallen leaves.  Antlers rise from his head. He holds his tail high. His eyes are huge, and his big ears twitch and turn. He sees Kaja, and the two stare at each other. Then, he turns and, with a flash of his tail, leaps back into the deep woods.

They’re starting to move again, when Kaja hears something else. She sniffs the air, and pushes Zoe toward the road. They cross, and hear something else and turn to look. A squirrel darts down a tree, and starts digging, and just like that, a coyote leaps on him and grabs him, closes his giant teeth over the squirrel and shakes him.

Kaja gets behind Zoe and pushes her into a run. They run down the road, and turn onto the main road. They run across the lake and up the hill and down. They run until they can’t run any longer.  And that night, they sleep beneath the porch of a house filled with people and noise and the smell of cooking meat.
In the morning, Zoe is stiff and sore from being hit by the car. There’s frost on the grass, and the ground beneath their feet is cold and hard.

They push on, and as the sun rises, they trot along the edge of the road, and in a while, they come down the last hill, and there’s Zoe’s house, her sweet little house, standing on the corner, smelling just as it did when she left.

But then they get closer, and Zoe realizes she’s wrong. It doesn’t smell the same. It doesn’t smell right. And the car, that’s not his car. But she can smell his car, and his smell, and the woman’s smell, and her own smell. And she knows it’s the house. She knows it.

The two dogs walk up to the house. People are awake inside. The dogs can hear them, making noises and talking, making food. Kaja and Zoe sit in a patch of sun near the car. Zoe trembles from time to time, and whines.

And then the door opens. Kaja barks. Zoe leaps up. She cocks her head to hear his voice. She sniffs the air to smell his scent.

It’s all wrong. All wrong!

“Hey! You dogs! Get out of here!” the man yells. It’s not his voice! It’s not him! And then the man is running at them, yelling and clapping his hands, and Kaja sees that he’s about to kick at them, and she gets behind Zoe and pushes her, and they run away, as fast as they can.

Carrie can be reached at


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