“That ther is a gen-u-wine Harbon Hound.” The old man wheezed. “Grow as big as a dire wolf they do.”
I eyed the puppy suspiciously, holding him up to head level. The dog was little smaller then a loaf of bread. It whined softly and tried to squirm free from my grasp.
“A Harbon?” I asked skeptically. I had heard stories of Harbon Hounds, used mainly by the military in the east mountains. Very rare breed known for its loyalty, size, and strength in battle. It’s said that once connected with a master it will defend him to the death. This small dog in my hands is not what I expected.
“I don’t know… doesn’t seem special to me.” I sat the dog back on the cart and looked over the rest of the pups all pawing to get out. Jumping over one another in an attempt to be chosen.
“What ya mean ya don’t know. You ever seen a Harbon before? Tis but a pup. He’ll be showin Harbon size in mere months. Look at his paws, strong, powerful, he’s already bigger then the others and he’s only 2 months.” The Harbon was sitting in alert, his ears perked up folding over themselves. A “cute” trait that would change once he grew into them.
“His ears and paws are rather large for a pup.” I thought aloud, I could see the old man smirk. “Still, something about his coloring, isn’t right. I’ve never heard of a Harbon being spotted like that.” The puppy was a light gray with dark spotting throughout his coat. Although unique, if it were a Harbon then it may not be a pure bred. Not worth the coin in such a case.
“ha ha, boy you talk like you know pups better then this old man in front of you. I’ve been selling to your village for years. The Parton’s dog? Bought from me. Grud’s? From me. I make a livin sellin pups that are strong and protective. I knows a runt when I see one and I knows a strong one when I see em.” He smiled showing missing teeth. He hobbled with his cane over to my side grabbing my arm. “Your gonna be a strong man some day. I can see it. You can’t be no more then 12 years and you already look a man. You gonna need a dog that fits you. A Harbon boy, you need a Harbon.” He smiled and reached into cart. The pups swarmed his arm in a furry or wagging tails and licking tounges. Only the Harbon stood in alert. He picked him up and held him towards me. “I can see it boy”
I looked at the man, his toothless grin, then to the swarm of pups in the cart, jumping and yipping. then to the Harbon. He squirmed slightly in the old mans weak hands. It gave a small growl which sounded more like a squeak and tried to nip him.
“Look at that fight boy, takem.” He handed the dog to me and I held him again at arms length. I looked the dog once over not quite sure.
“Well…. how much?” I asked
“10?!” There’s no way I could get away with buying the pup at that price. My mom would kill me for sure. I only made 3 gold all last season. I was about to put the dog down, put him in the cart and walk away when I caught the pups glance. He looked at me and I could see an intelligence I had never seen before in an animal. It whined slightly and let out a small bark. Call me crazy but I felt like it said, just pay the man already and take me home, I’m hungry.
“boy…. boy? Snap out of it, you gonna pay me or not?” The old man coughed.
I set the pup down on the ground and reached for my purse. My hand slipped in and felt the cold coinage. Turning them over in my fingers I thought of the hell my mother would bring if I bought this animal.
“HEY! He’s gettin away!” The man yelled. I snapped out of my thoughts and saw the pup bounding down the road. “Stop ya damn mutt!” The man wheezed hobbling after the dog. It ignored him and continued on. I brought in a deep breath and whistled, halting the dog in it’s tracks. It turned and looked at me with expectancy. He gave a slight yelp in defiance and sat down. The old man had stopped hobbling and was standing half way trying to catch his breath. I walked towards the dog, handing the man his coin while passing by.
“This dog is special” I thought to myself kneeling down in front of it. It stood and sniffed my hand.
The old man satisfied with his transaction was already hobbling to his cart. Singing an excited tune. He stopped before climbing into the cart’s driver seat. He turned and smiled that toothless grin
“Name him boy, Take care of him and he will take care of you. You will never have another dog like it.”
I let it finish smelling my hands and patted his head.
“He’s not a dog, he’s a hound.” I said quietly, the hound responded wagging his tail. “and his name is Bones.”