Liam is running flat out in a long curving line over the uneven ground of the enclosed paddock; when he stops, it is sudden, his muscles quivering as if he were an arrow just thunked into wood. His tongue lolls out the side of his jaw, and he leans forward, jerking his head to track noises and movement I can neither see nor hear. He hesitates only for a few seconds, and then he begins again, circling me, not looking but aware. When I walk towards a fence line, he alters his sweeps to keep me in sight.
Most of the day he sits quietly on the outside of his kennel, neither barking nor pacing but alert, his eyes active. Of all the dogs in these runs, he is both the Zen master and the samurai, the observant contemplative and the wielder of his body in pure, swirling motion. When I step into the cage to leash him, he lowers his head gently to allow the loop to fall over it. In here I may stroke his head and look directly into his eyes. He does not jump up. He waits patiently. When I step outside, he begins pulling like a Clydesdale, his eighty pounds fully engaged in_moving_forward. Once unleashed he explodes, his coiled energy burning up in strides which eat up the ground, his feet barely touching, his body arcing, stretched out, ecstatically free. Every minute or so he turns and heads right at me, his reddish hue catching the light. I do not move. When he is within about ten feet, I bend my knees forward, feeling like a matador, and he hums past me by inches.
Ten minutes later he is ready to go; he comes easily, takes the leash, and we both walk away, glowing.