Here’s a new excerpt from “Taking Texas.”

Sky followed an interesting scent trail, winding around a patch of fallow ground the humans likely used for gardening in the summer and trotting into sight of the three dogs frolicking together on this patch of lawn between the garden and the large four story building beyond.

With the advent of their war, the humans’ asinine breeding programs had come to an end.  There were few pure breeds, and more often than not it was the dogs themselves deciding who would be mating with whom.  They had slightly different priorities than their human masters.  Dogs had learned the value of intelligence, and now valued it more than nearly any trait… even size and strength.

Sky had already dropped a considerable amount of mass, so as not to unduly panic anyone.  A dog the size of a pony attracted attention.  A dog the size of the average house pet?  Not so much.

These three mongrels eyed her with some interest, though none of them had made any move to welcome her.  The alpha, the piebald herd dog who’d only moments before been rolling around on the grass like a puppy, gazed at her out of limpid brown eyes perfectly captured by a black mask staining his otherwise white head.

The maker only knew what breeds his parents were.  His companions were a large curl-tailed Spitz breed—parents might have been anything from Huskies to Akitas—and a rawboned racing dog of some sort.

Dogs don’t speak among themselves the way humans do.  They vocalize, but much more of their communication is expressed through body language.  The angle of a tail, the tilt of an ear, the gaze itself, is far more useful to dogs than vocalizations.  Though she’d observed some dogs beginning to challenge that perception.

Not this bunch, though.  They met in the middle, tails at half-mast.  No one was wagging yet, but no one had risen the tail to flag open hostility.  An auspicious enough start, the foo dog decided.

The leader’s tail began to twitch a little from side to side, as he decided that he liked her scent.  Even better.  Soon they were all clustered together, noses working feverishly, tails sweeping back and forth with gleeful abandon.

They’d accepted her as a newcomer.  That was well enough.  With a final wag, she put her nose back to the ground and fell back on the trail of the scent that had caught her interest in the first place.

At no point did it occur to her that her disappearance might have upset Kate in any way.  Foo dogs had always been independent.  Raven had made them that way.  Thinking that one would follow along like an ordinary dog, trained to its master’s heel, would be a mistake.


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