I surreptitiously scan the rim, then the fence, looking for anyone with a badge, ticket book or binoculars. Seeing no one, I reach down and slip the leash from her head. She’s still waiting.
“Let’s hunt,” I tell her. There’s no whistle today and she rockets past the big white sign and its list of rules (No glass bottles. Dogs must be leashed. No hunting…) before she checks back. I hike up near the escarpment coiled leash in hand.
She knows there won’t be hups or yells, so she’s watching closely and only takes a few tenative steps after the big old jack she jumps.
Then she tightens her swing and I know they’re close even before I hear them. It’s a pair and when she puts them in the air, they stay low and only fly 50 yards or so before landing in a shallow wash not far from another sign listing the rules. Breathlessly happy, she comes to heel and I slip the leash over her head.
These are fat quail, gambels and scalies that thrive on sprinkler water and bird feeders before heading back to the basalt and cacti to hunker down at night. Like the patch of open space they inhabit on the fringes of the city, they straddle two worlds.
They shouldn’t be here. According to the big white sign, neither should we.