the hill to his favorite spot. He didn’t trot or run, as he’d been known to do
in his younger days. He ambled, telling himself that he could trot or run if he
was so inclined. He just didn’t feel like it that minute.
the Laiken kennel and farm had the very best view of the surroundings. When he
was there he could imagine himself to be protector of all he surveyed; his
people, the land, the wolf dogs.
light snow the day before, but the morning’s bright sun had melted a small
clearing that formed a patch of bright green grass. Bright sun was unusual in
northern Ireland at that time of year, but dogs don’t analyze changes in
weather or atmospheric conditions. They simply accept what is and adapt as best
they can. When the sun shines warm on old bones, they accept it.
a circle three times around the patch of green, Blackie sunk down into a sphinx
pose and indulged himself in a satisfied sigh.
to know what dogs do or do not remember. Perhaps he had crystal clear memories
of his adoption by The Order of the Black Swan and recalled every detail of
every adversity and adventure. Perhaps there was a vague recollection of his history.
Who can say?
hill overseeing his farm. Perhaps old dogs do what old people do. They divide
their reveries between recollection and remorse. Because even the best of us,
human or dog, could have done things better. If there was an exception to that,
it would be Blackie. Because he had never failed to give his whole heart and
effort to any given task in any given moment. Surely dogs as smart as Blackie
are like humans, recalling this corner of a moment or that fragment of a song
at odd and inexplicable times.
was as constant as was the idea of his father, Sir Rammel Aelshelm Hawking,
Black Swan Knight Emeritus and Prince of Ireland, and his mother, Lady Elora
Laiken, Black Swan Knight Emeritus, former Princess of Britannia, Stagsnare
earliest memory was a black muzzle shoved between the bars of his baby bed
resting on the sheet-covered mattress, intelligent brown eyes full of light and
staring at him intently like he was the most precious thing in the universe. At
fourteen he’d never confronted the prospect of surviving Blackie. He’d never
considered it and simply couldn’t imagine the world without the big black dog.
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