As we began our return, Blue-Eyes chose to squeeze himself between the Padre and me. No longer feeling the need to scout on ahead, Blue-Eyes took to eavesdropping on our afterglow of recollection and reflection, I recalling what one or the other of the Brother Owls had taught, the Padre adding one more nuance of understanding to the teaching.
Halfway back to the comfort of fire and hearth, Blue-Eyes suddenly made a dash toward a thicket of lilac bushes. At first, I expected him to make a quick investigation of this bramble ... but then he continued on beyond our eyesight, over a rise and down the other side.
I started after Blue-Eyes but was suddenly jolted to a stop, when the Padre's voice behind me shouted, "Squire! Squire, get back here!" I turned around, begging with eyes some sort of explanation. The Padre offered none. He simply sent forth a beckoning whistle and one more call, "Squire!" Two answering barks turned me back around. There poking his head above the rise, was Blue-Eyes, or apparently, Squire. After a momentary check to see if he had understood the Padre's command, this now named stranger of a dog came galloping back. It was clear now. Blue-Eyes was the Padre's dog and had been so all along. I hadn't found Blue-Eyes out there on that midnight ice; the Padre's dog Squire had gone out and found me, retrieved me from the frozen waters and had brought me home.
I had to deal with a stirring of sadness within me. I suppose I had started down the road of adopting this canine vagabond as my own. "Hey Squire!" I knelt down to welcome him back. "So your name is Squire. You know that name fits you just right. Squire." Sensing my struggling, the Padre gave the top of my head a tender rub.
"Boy, let's be getting back to the Lodge. Your Grandfather will want to hear all about it.
As the light was beginning its fade into twilight, Squire returned to his work of scouting the way, more or less retracing our footprints in the snow. And outside of Squire pursuing a couple of diversions - a rabbit got chased back into the scrub brush and a family of deer was set to running into the woods - the trek back to the lodge was quite uneventful. The Padre shared some good-natured stories about Squire as a pup. And I told him about Granddad's dog. I even told the Padre without the Padre asking, how Granddad and I both missed that old dog, so much so that we keep remembering him, every so often, now and then.