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He Lays Out The Welcome Mat

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Little David was playing with a blur, Christopher saw as he stepped from their house to the near side of the front path.

"Having fun?" Christopher asked, though the answer was obvious. Only a considerable amount of fun would keep his son outside in the wintery (if not yet snowy) weather.

As Little David turned, Christopher saw the small stick in his hand. Which meant it was likely that the brown and grey blur was...

"A dog I get to play with!" Little David called. He was so excited the fur at the side of his face was visibly fluffed up. "Can we keep her?"

"She'll have a home of his own already," Christopher said. He looked carefully at the shape that had settled from blur to dog, noting the rather vacant expression to the pale eyes on the white-blazed grey face. "She's out of one of the human places, by the looks of her."

"She doesn't have a collar," Little David said in a rush. "So no tags and we don't know where she's from!"

"We don't," Christopher admitted reluctantly, all too easily seeing where that train was going.

"It's cold," Little David said, and he might have been trying to sound casual about that but Christopher heard the implied pleading.

Christopher concealed a sigh in his mane. "You and the dog can both come into the house for now."

Little David put the stick into the the checker-edged front pocket of his overalls, and lead the way importantly to the door. The dog followed readily enough, her white tail waving, but then stopped short when Little David held open the door. Perhaps twenty seconds passed before the dog tilted her head and started making noise.

"Eeee..." It was a high-pitched whimper all too likely to turn louder.

Little David's idea of luring the dog into the house by waving a toy around had been of surprising effectiveness.

Likely the sheer variety of balls and small shapes available had something to do with the dog's interest. (Out of thoughts of Little Miriam, they didn't have any of the usual mouse-shaped toys. Having something pale, round-eared and fluffy for the cat to play with would have been just too much. So instead, all the more bells and little rattling toys and so forth.)

The cat stared, a fluffed grey shape by the couch, as the dog rushed from one end of the room to the other. The dog had a squeaking, round plastic toy in her mouth, and seemed very content indeed to be inside.

Little David was sitting on the floor, watching the dog with a happy expression to match hers.

Christopher could feel his ears drooping. They'd end with the dog as well as the cat, he could see that. Well, at least the adults weren't outnumbered yet.