WHERE EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY
Baldy’s entrance into the Allan and Darling Kennel had failed to attract the interest that the arrival of a new inmate usually created. He was an accident, not an acquisition, and the little comment upon his presence was generally unfavorable.
Even Matt, who took care of the dogs, and was a sort of godfather to them all, shook his head dubiously over Baldy. “He don’t seem to belong here, someway,” had been his mild criticism; while the Woman complained to “Scotty” that he was one of the most unresponsive dogs she had ever known.
“He’s not exactly unresponsive,” maintained “Scotty” justly; “but he’s self-contained, and it’s hard for him to adjust himself to these recent changes. It’s all strange to him, and he misses the boy. You can’t watch him with Ben and say that he’s not affectionate; but he gives his affection slowly, and to but few people. One must earn it.”
The Woman regarded Baldy with amused contempt. “So one must work hard for his affection, eh? Well, with all of the attractive dogs here willing to lavish their devotion upon us, I think it would hardly be worth while trying to coax Baldy’s reluctant tolerance into something warmer.”
“Scotty” admitted that Baldy could hardly be considered genial. “He’s like some people whose natures are immobile—inexpressive. It’s going to take a little while to find out if it’s because there is nothing to express, or because he is undemonstrative, and has to show by his conduct rather than by his manners what there is to him.”
It was true that Baldy was unmistakably ill at ease in his new quarters, and did not feel at home; for he was accustomed neither to the luxuries nor to the restrictions that surrounded him. His early experiences had been distinctly plebeian and uninteresting, but they had been quite free of control.
Born at one of the mining claims in the hills, of worthy hard-working parents, he had, with the various other members of the family, been raised to haul freight from town to the mine. But his attachment for Ben Edwards had intervened, and before he was really old enough to be thoroughly broken to harness, he had taken up his residence at Golconda.
Here his desultory training continued, but a lesson in sled pulling was almost invariably turned into a romp, so that he had only acquired the rudiments of an education when he came under “Scotty’s” supervision.
His complete ignorance in matters of deportment, and possibly, too, his retiring disposition, made him feel an intruder in the exclusive coterie about him; and certainly there was a pronounced lack of cordiality on the part of most of the dogs toward him. This was especially true of Tom, Dick, and Harry, the famous Tolman brothers, who were the Veterans of Alaska Dog Racing, and so had a standing in the Kennel that none dared question. That is, none save Dubby, who recognized no standard other than his own; and that standard took no cognizance of Racers as Racers. They were all just dogs—good or bad—to Dubby.