The powdery shape stitches paw prints into the snow blending with dusk as both fall across the stretch of railroad tracks fading into convergence in either direction. I slow down, study the lope of border collie, head slung low, eyes trained on my car. Slide the stick out of gear and park atop the rock-hard rails. As I open the door, he turns to counter-inspect, then begins moving toward me. I wait, calling softly. The white belly fur swishes as he approaches. I’m thinking “hungry stray,” wondering whether he’ll accept a ride, and then what? He doesn’t let me ponder long and scurries off down the tracks, with furtive glances back. He seems uncertain, so I call again and he doubles back, then stops, stares, barks once and makes it clear I’m to move along. I turn; he turns; we continue on.

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