Dear Curiosity Journal,

I put a backpack together for hiking down to check the sap tanks. Balio, our Great Pyrenees, watched me, wagging his tail, anticipating our ramble through the woods, but as we were expecting visitors, he had to stay inside. Although he has mellowed out considerably with age, he’s still unpredictable around strangers. If people don’t pass his arbitrary vibe check, he growls, and if they do pass, he leans his big head between their legs, or puts his snout between their cheeks – all frightening and undesirable behavior for guests, so it’s easiest to leave him in. He stubbornly held his nose to the door, blocking me with his bulky body. I managed to shimmy out and he stared at me through the window, looking like I’d broken some unspoken natural law between us. I’d given him some food as a peace offering, which he refused to look at. No deal. Perhaps it was the intensity of his parting look, but I was hyper aware that he wasn’t there. I noticed how accustomed I’d become to the sound of his steps, the way he frequently checks in by brushing up against me or pushing his head into my hand, then running up ahead. I missed his beastly mannerisms and livestock guardian gestures. However, I also observed a nearness to the natural world. Without Balio setting off a predator panic in the woods, the other species only had one intrusive animal to fear. I imagined the woodland creature’s response – just the girl, no guardian, and a sigh of relief.