Huckleberry’s muzzle turned grey. White circles ringed his eyes. Still, he jumped into the truck bed. He walked down the steep hill from the house to the horses to help me feed twice a day. When I rode out, he trotted along side.
An email from a Karelian Bear Dog breeder arrived, offering me a puppy. To thank me, she said, for helping Huck so long ago. She sent pictures of the litter–eight beauties. I chose one. Late one winter night, Bern and I met a plane at the Tucson Airport. Laden with collar and leash, toys and treats, we rushed to her. She sat calm and serious in her crate.
Her registered name was Black Majestic’s Lahja Kirsti. We named her Dodi for my oldest and dearest friend. I carried her into the house and set her on the floor before Huck. He raised his head off his paws to see himself in her — the prick ears, sharp nose, white-tipped tail curled over her back, like his. She bowed to him, a puppy invitation to play. Slowly he stood on arthritic feet, looked from her to me with exhausted eyes, and growled at her until she turned onto her back and peed. He growled at her until she was grown. No matter her accomplishments, her charm, her love and awe of him, he growled until she rolled over.