The pup weighed about twelve pounds, and even after he was grown he wouldn't be a very practical dog, but he was company, too - more concrete, perhaps, than memories and feelings.
"Passenger, you watch," I told him. "It's going to be a good trip."
In the firelight he registered disbelief...
In a moment a woman, harried-faced, peeked down at me, and I repeated, trying hard not to look like an itinerant rapist but handicapped by three days' beard, that I was harmless. She frowned.
Beside me the pup started barking, tainting my kindly aura. I kicked at him lightly but caught him hard in the ribs. Bellowing, he lit out for camp. The woman disappeared. I picked up my bucket and carried it on, feeling guilty and brutal and grubby.
He was an affable little brute, impractical but comic and good to have with me, philosphical under scolding and the occasional sleepy kicks he got when he wriggled too much in the bottom of the sleeping bag at night.
In a few days he had developed more than in weeks in town, giving up his abject station at my heels to run about the woods on our shore excursions, learning to evade the cold by staying in the tent or by hugging the fire, sitting like a figurehead on the food box in the bow as we slid down the river in the long bright afternoons.