A Haunting Tail
The girl and the boy, seven and nine respectively, spent much of the autumn playing outside in the yard. On the outskirts of wooded area, there was a particularly large circular patch of dead grass with meticulously placed bedrock around it. The father repeatedly planted grass seed in hopes that it would grow, without success. However, in the large scheme of home ownership it was a minor detail, so the father moved onto more pressing matters.
The mother enjoyed watching her children laugh and play. Until one day, she noticed an odd pattern. When her children played ball, they were not actually throwing the ball to one another, but decidedly away from each other. When they both came in for a drink of juice, she inquired about the game they were playing. The children smiled and said they were playing fetch with the dog in the backyard. Though, they had no pet.
Since the dog's arrival, the boy took to collecting scrap lumber from various home projects and brought it out into the thick woods, much deeper to its interior than his parents would have allowed unsupervised. His mission was to construct a treehouse where he, his sister, and the mysterious dog could romp and play away from prying eyes. Halloween was fast approaching and the crisp air quickened the pace of the boy's labors, who had worked on its construction a little each day.
Halloween morning came and the boy and girl set off into the woods with assorted treats. They did not have actual dog treats, but they figured he would enjoy a stick and homemade butter cookies all the same. The boy sent his sister up the dangling rope ladder first, to drop the retrieval bucket and pull up their wares. As she unloaded the Halloween treats, her brother started climbing the rope ladder. Suddenly, there was a - SNAP - and the boy plummeted. The girl looked out the hatch and saw her brother unconscious on the ground. She called out to him, but he did not respond.
The smoky dark figure of the sizable canine sped through the woods and towards the house. The girl felt a small sense of relief knowing the dog would get help, even if she and her brother were the only ones able to see him.
The midday autumn air blended a warmth and crispness that flowed through the cottage, as the mother went room by room opening the windows. She had a pumpkin pie finishing in the oven for their evening desert. From the porch area, she heard a whimpering under the sill and thought a lost animal had found its way to their home. She opened the door to investigate, but saw nothing. She closed the door and once more heard the whimpering. This time she went to look out the window. As she did, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, although she did not know why. She noticed an oddly formed shadow speeding across the lawn towards the lush trees, but when she looked up all she saw was a crisp blue sky. She rubbed her eyes and thought the fresh air must be playing tricks on her.
Unmistakable baying echoed throughout the trees. The father and the mother stopped what they were doing, dead in their tracks. She rushed out the patio door and the father emerged from the garage. They both gave each other a glance, acknowledging an emergency, and ran toward the tree line. The urgent howling continued to draw them deeper into the woods. Not seeing the animal, they split up into sections to cover greater distance.
The mother once again saw the odd shadow move swiftly across the dense brush, but did not dismiss it. This time, she understood there was trouble. She called out her children's names and listened. Every ten feet or so she heard an encouraging woof and knew she was heading in the right direction.
The girl saw the dog sitting obediently next to her brother. From the clearing, she saw her mother's figure emerge calling their father towards them. She tossed a cookie down from the hatch and said, "Good boy!" She smiled when her mother uttered heartfelt thanks to the phantom dog into thin air. In that moment, the girl understood he would always have a place to call home.
This is Deb Duxbury, for Animal Life, reminding you to please spay or neuter your pet.
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