When I was about 12 years old, someone abandoned a half-grown pup on the road near our farm. This pup ran wild through the woods for I don't know how long, appearing to us periodically as a flash of orange and white bolting through the field. One morning, my father spied him eating the gravel off the road. In time, we were able to coax the dog into the yard, and he become "my" dog, though, considering that he refused ever to come into the house or even allow a collar to be put on him, it was difficult to know who was adopting whom. We guessed he was half collie, half German shepherd. I named him Prince. For some reason, during those years, there was an explosion in the skunk population, and Prince took it as his sacred duty to corner any skunk that trundled into our yard, keeping the animal trapped (often under the bathroom window) with what was to me a mortifying and fascinating singlemindedness, an electric ferocity in his movements. My father, worried about rabies, forbade us from going outside when this happened; he would go to the gun case and fetch his shotgun and trudge out the back door. Long before he arrived on the scene, however, Prince would have been soaked with scent, repeatedly. I spent many summer mornings making Prince stand still for a bath, scolding him. I remember his response: an unrepentant, almost prideful, gaze, which seemed to say, "No regrets. I can see what's right and wrong."

The connection between Prince and Forte and the Sawtelle Dogs Watch


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