But another strange visitor appeared, without making the slightest sound that a mortal could hear. It was a great dog, seeming to materialize out of nowhere, which made its way back the alleyway and to the rear yard.
I’d caught its scent as soon as it approached, but I did not see the animal until I came over the roof to the back of the house. I’d expected to hear from it before this time, for surely it would pick up my scent, know instinctively that I wasn’t human, and then begin to sound its natural alarm of growls and barks.
Dogs had done that enough to me over the centuries, though they don’t always. Sometimes I can entrance them and command them. But I feared the instinctive rejection and it always sent a pain through my heart.
This dog had not barked or given any clue that he knew I was there. He was staring intently at the rear door of the house and the butter-yellow squares of light falling from the window of the door onto the deep snow.
I had a good chance to study him in undisturbed silence, and he was, very simply, one of the most handsome dogs I had ever beheld.
He was covered in deep, plush fur, beautifully golden and gray in places, and overlaid with a faint saddle of longer black hairs. His overall shape was that of a wolf, but he was far too big to be a wolf, and there was nothing furtive and sly about him, as is the case with wolves. On the contrary, he was wholly majestic in the way that he sat staring motionless at the door.
On closer inspection, I saw that he most truly resembled a giant German shepherd, with the characteristic black muzzle and alert face.
Indeed, when I drew close to the edge of the roof, and he at last looked up at me, I found myself vaguely thrilled by the fierce intelligence gleaming in his dark almond-shaped eyes.
Still he gave no bark, no growl. There seemed a near-human comprehension in him. But how could that explain his silence, I had done nothing to enthrall him, to lure or befuddle his dog mind. No. No instinctive aversion at all.
I dropped down into the snow in front of him, and he merely continued to look at me, with those uncanny and expressive eyes. Indeed, so large was he and so calm and sure of himself, that I laughed to myself with delight as I looked at him. I couldn’t resist reaching out to touch the soft fur between his ears.
He cocked his head to one side as he continued to look at me, and I found this very endearing, and then to my further amazement he lifted his immense paw and stroked my coat. His bones were so big and heavy he put me in mind of my mastiffs of long ago. He had their slow heavy grace as he moved. I reached out to embrace him, loving his strength and his heaviness, and he reared back on his hind legs and threw his huge paws up on my shoulders, and ran his great ham-pink tongue over my face.
This produced in me a wonderful happiness, really near to weeping, and then some giddy laughter. I nuzzled him, and held him, and stroked him, loving his clean furry smell, and kissing him all over his black muzzle, and then looking him in the eye.
Ah, this is what Little Red Riding Hood saw, I thought, when she beheld the wolf in her grandmother’s nightcap and gown. It was too funny, really, the extraordinary and keen expression in his dark face. ”