Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy times (from the Novel)



[This is when Hope and her litter brother were growing up. Enjoy! I you want to read all of the excerpts from my novel-in-progress, simply click on the "novel excerpt" label at the bottom of this story.]

Hope loved everything about her farm. She loved the smell of the horses. She loved to devil the barn cats, and couldn’t understand why the Woman didn’t see them as Vermin. She loved the sun, oh how she loved the sun. She loved to bake in it in the summer, and to worship its hidden warmth in the fall. She and her brother Proper would hunker down together in a pile of leaves and let that autumn sun reach through and warm their souls. They shared their heat, as was their nature, and took turns sleeping and feigning sleep. She loved the pretending best. Watching through one seemingly closed eye. When a squirrel would carelessly scan and miss them entirely and twitch his evil tempting tail and chatter his insults, she would move nothing; just change the pattern of her breathing. She would feel Proper’s heart race next to her, but he wouldn’t move as much as a whisker. Wait. Wait. The pounding of their two hearts was deafening, pumping oxygen like bullets, getting ready. Wait. She felt Proper shift just a fraction. Wait.

And then the leaves exploded. She would beat her bigger brother, though she saw nothing at all but the idiot squirrel. Got it. And now the Woman was out in the yard, yelling and stumping along and the idiot squirrel was dead and it was hers, but her brother thought it was his, and what was the silly Woman doing? Arrgh, that moment she took her mind off the carcass, Proper got it and took off, and the silly Woman was stumping around the yard after Proper and the idiot dead squirrel, and so was she. She was just inches away from grabbing it out of her brother’s jaws, only he turned just then, well, he learned that trick from her, now didn’t he? And the silly Woman was panting like a bellowing bull, and screaming “Leave it! Drop it!” As if Proper would. And life was so grand.

After Proper chomped down the idiot squirrel’s head, he stopped playing Dodge the Human and allowed the Woman to have the rest of the carcass. She retched and gagged and took the thing by the very tip of its tail and threw it over the fence. Humans were so wasteful. Why disgrace the idiot squirrel by letting the good parts rot? It should be eaten, and rolled in as perfume, and then let the flies get what’s left. She noticed that the Woman was still huffing and was all red and sweaty, so she thought she should see if she were all right. She trotted over, wagging. The Woman took them inside and cared for their wounds in her odd, clumsy way, by putting some cold bubbly liquid out of a bottle on them. This she followed with an ointment, smelling unnatural and medicinal that at least they could lick off. The Woman asked Proper please not to throw up the idiot squirrel’s head on the living room rug. Perfect example of the Human’s lack of understanding. What did she want? If the idiot squirrel’s brain was full of sickness, did she want Proper to absorb the sickness? Humans!

There were lots of days of chasing squirrels. When Hope and Proper went on the walks with the Woman and the elders in the Big Back Fields, they were attached to the Woman so she didn’t get left behind and lost. The Woman would release an elder from the obligation and they would run and tease the rest of the pack. Hope’s sire was especially good at finding deer, fox, rabbits and those vile groundhogs. When they would hear the Sire sound the hunting alarm, they would all try their best to help the Woman run to catch up. Whippets can go from zero to thirty in less time than you could say “OOF” so more often than not, the Woman would end up on her belly, and a couple of them used to get to go off and help the Sire. With the attachments still around their necks and dragging behind them, though no longer in the Woman’s hands, they could not be as helpful as they would like, but they tried. If it was a deer, they would turn the deer to come back to the pack. Usually by then, the Woman was just getting up and assessing her bumps and bruises. The sight of a big old buck, heading right toward them, with their Sire and pack mates on its flagging white tail, would cause the pack to try with all their might to help the Woman run towards the deer, and down she’d go again on her slow, useless Human belly.

The Pack thought that by repeating this scenario on every possible opportunity, the Woman would either learn to run faster, or would relieve them of their obligation to her, at least for the walks. But Humans just don’t learn, and so off they’d go, morning, noon and evening, tethered to the Woman, with only one or occasionally two at a time running free.

Hope loved more than anything when it was her time to run. The Woman was at least smart enough to pair her with the Queen or her Sire. So many lessons to learn! The first time she was let free out back, she was running hell bent for leather, when suddenly pie-yow there was an explosion and Hope was turning head over heels in the hay field. She looked up, once she stopped seeing stars, to see her Sire grinning down at her. He had intentionally crashed into her, sending her ass over tin cups. “Watch out. Respect your elders. Pay attention.” But Hope was very young, and full of run, and finally free of the tethered Woman, and she took off just as fast as her spirit could fly, in big silly looping butt-tucked circles. Another explosion sent her tumbling, and this time when she finally stopped, her Sire had her gently by her throat, his tail wagging and his eyes shining. “Watch out. Respect your elders. Pay attention.” He held her still, on her back for a moment, with his jaws as strong as his character and as gentle as his soul. When he let her up, Hope trotted off, looked around, and carefully started running. But having no desire to be a doggy bowling pin yet again, when she heard her Sire thundering up behind her, she ducked down and hugged the ground. Her Sire jumped clear over her and looked over his shoulder, daring her to run with him. They ran in big circles, grinning around their tongues, and any time her Sire would look at her, she would crouch and wait until he dared her to run with him again.

When she was completely out of breath, she trotted back to the Pack and the Woman, and sides just a-heaving, gladly accepted the Woman’s tether. The Woman carried a squirt bottle of water, which Hope gratefully gulped. Then she strained at her tether as Proper got to run with the Queen. When Hope saw the Queen bearing down on him she barked an excited little warning, but Proper was all about running and then boom it was all over as the Queen sent him sprawling. “Watch out. Respect your elders. Pay attention.” It took four explosions for Proper to learn, but sure enough, he did. It was a lesson that served them all their lives; no matter how fast they were going, they stayed aware of their surroundings. They honed their peripheral senses.

8 comments:

  1. Yay! Brilliant.. just brilliant.. :)

    Hugs, Ane

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  2. I don't understand what humans problems are either, throwing away a perfectly good squirrel.. What were they thinking?

    Gus and Louie

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  3. Oh look!! It's my leetle Nearly.

    Vee

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  4. Choosing a squirrel dog is not an easy task.You sound like a great one .
    sniff-sniff



    Lot's of Lick's
    Sam

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  5. If you want help with videos give us a shout. It's not hard (if ma can do it anyone can, believe me!)

    Toodle pip,
    Harry x

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  6. Be careful not to publish the whole thing HERE, Miss Patience-it is really SO SO good-I can't wait for publication!! Whippet-ly your-martha and p-doggy.

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  7. You could have had perfectly good squirrel stew.

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  8. We love the perspective. "Respect your elders. Pay attention."

    Dog teaching dog in ways that humans really can't.

    The more's the pity for pups that get taken from their moms way too early to be sold to ignorant humans who don't bother to teach their own "pups" respect foer their elders and pay attention!!

    Very satisfying reading!!! We want more.

    Jake and Just Harry

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