As a matter of fact these attentions and endearments were exceedingly unwise, for they were invariably directed toward the very dogs who were most apt to over-value physical charm and ingratiating tricks of manner.
But there was one thing more objectionable still that could be laid at her door—she was constantly lowering the general tone of the Kennel.
The stables where the Racers were kept gave shelter, also, to a few others whose merits warranted their sharing in the special care bestowed upon the fleet-footed Sweepstakes Winners. The latter all carried themselves with a conscious dignity that befitted their fame and aspirations; but gradually Baldy noticed that through the Woman there were being introduced a number of ordinary strangers who made use of the place, and were housed and fed, till it began to look like a transient dog hotel.
She brought them because they were tired and hungry, lame, halt or blind; or worse still, just because they “seemed to like her.” No reason was too trivial, no dog too worthless. Matt shamelessly upheld her, “Scotty” submitted, while Baldy sulkily glowered at these encumbrances who were more fit for the pound than the Allan and Darling Racing Stables. For Baldy had but one criterion; that of efficiency as the result of honest endeavor. And it was indeed a trial for a conscientious plodder to see the ease with which idle canines possessed themselves of the comforts and privileges that by right belong alone to those whose industry has earned them.
Had Baldy been a French Poodle, with little tufts of hair cut in circles round his ankles, and a kinky lock tied with a splashing bow over his eyes, he would probably, with delicate disdain, have thought of her as lacking in “esprit de corps.” As it was, being but a blunt Alaskan, he growled rather sullenly when she came too near, and considered that she had no more dog-pride than an Eskimo; and Baldy’s contempt for her could suggest no more scathing comparison.
There was no jealousy in his objections, for he now fairly gloried in the sensation that Kid, Irish or McMillan created when they were in the lead; and as the two latter at least were dogs that were coldly indifferent to him, this was surely a test of his unselfishness.
He was perfectly willing, also, to welcome “classy” dogs, as George and Dan called them, like Stefansson, Lipton, or dainty Margaret Winston, from Kentucky. He even understood there were dogs, neither Workers nor Racers, who had gained a kind of popular distinction that was recognized by both the human and canine population of the City; and while it was impossible for him to comprehend the reason, he accepted the fact philosophically.