The students were all ears as I was running around merrily, not really knowing what they talked about.
And then the trees parted. I looked and froze in awe. Underneath my paws was a huge canyon, its stormy river roaring and winding below and its rocks so white and mighty that it took my breath away.
I couldn't help howling. I howled at the top of my voice until night fell, unable to handle the impact of my awe and that great beauty.
At night, lying by the fire, I listened to my owners telling the students about how they went on expeditions in the Soviet years, how they studied and defended their theses, how they met and travelled all over Russian North, and how they took their beloved daughter with them.
"What can humans learn from nature?" one student asked excitedly. "Nature is blind. Natural selection is cruel. Only the strongest survive, leaving the smart and the decent behind."
"Take this impassable river, for example. It had been patient enough to make its way through all these stones. Nature teaches us to accept the world as it is, to be patient workers and keep hope," replied my owners. "It is strong personality that makes a man, not strong fist. Even our shaggy friend knows it's true. He'd been in the streets long enough before he finally found his home."
Not sure I remember exactly how they put it, but I surely got the point.
When embers died and everyone went to sleep, an unknown force rose inside me. Suddenly, having torn through thorns and rocks, I found myself being swung and carried away by ice-cold torrent. My paws came to life and I rushed to the shore desperately, overwhelmed with fear and overjoyed with delight. Once on shore, I climbed up the hill and ran around the cold fire for a long time. Alas, there was no one there to see my triumph, no one to praise me, for no one knew that it was me, a dog with the fear of water, who had heroically conquered the Porzhenka.