The Dogs Tales are a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....
When I take my Person out walking in the woods it is my job to scout the path ahead, to lead us through the dark of the forest and bring us safely home again. With my good, furry ears and my keen, clever nose, I pick up on all the news of the forest: of foxes and badgers who have passed this way...squirrels rattling high above us in the trees...fine spiders' silk spun from leaf to leaf...coarse sheeps' wool caught in the bramble thorns...and the distinctive scent of the hillside's fairies: sweet, pungent, mushroomy and sour, all at once.
But what kind of fairies? Friends or foes? I sniff more closely, but I can't quite tell. Shy moss fairies, kindly root fairies, giggly fungi fairies: all these I do not mind. But the winged ones, buzzing through the air like overgrown bees, are tricksy, and they bite.
I follow their spoor through oak and ash, all the way to the forest boundary wall. The stink of fairies is overwhelming, and yet my Person walks on without concern. She's a gentle, absent-minded creature, unaware of danger. I must guard her closely.
Now fairies, as you know, love boundaries and borders; they love places that lie betwixt and between; and so the wall is riddled with fairy burrows and the evidence of fairy hands and fairy feet. I climb the wall, push my sensitive snout into the ivy, and find moss fairies curled in beds of lichen, green and plump and fast asleep. A root fairy, brown and wrinkled as a walnut, peers up with eyes the pale green of new leaves.
But this is not the danger I've been scenting. My hackles rise and I don't know why. My Person is drifting up the path behind me when I hear the buzz of fairy wings....
Suddenly a fairy swarm surrounds me, visible only as sparks of light, and I bark in warning: Stay back! Stay back! These are not the slow, soft creature of root and soil but the quick, sharp spirits of the forest canopy: shifty, capricious, and volatile. They bear no love for the Canine Tribe, and their fondness for mortals cannot be trusted.
My tail is pulled, my ears are tweaked, and sharp little fairy teeth nip my flanks. I growl and snap. I crunch. I swallow. I've eaten a fairy! I've eaten a fairy!
Uh oh. I've eaten a fairy. And my Person will not be pleased.
The swarm, taking fright, vanishes into the forest. The moss fairies snore. The root fairy smiles. My Person is safe now. She whistles and we walk on.
She never needs to know.