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A Friend from the Woods
By Mesa Smith
Genre: Fiction Level: Elementary 4-6
Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

The dog ran.

He ran for joy.

He ran for hope.

He ran for a friend.

The dog ran through the darkening woods, jumped over gurgling creeks, and ran through swaying meadows. The dog loved how it felt to have wind in his fur. He loved extending his long lean legs. But most of all he loved being away from the master and his demands.

The dog knew where to go because he had gone many times before but it got harder every time. The master was getting closer to figuring out his secret.

Now all the dog thought about was the joy of running and the joy of freedom. As the dog got to the clearing he sniffed the air, and caught a woody scent. He ran forward and the deer turned and bleated with joy. Both of the animals ran forward and tackled each other play biting the whole time.

They played for hours; running, jumping, and tackling. They played until the big, white moon came out. The dog playfully nipped the deer one more time before heading back to the master.

The dog trembled at the thought of going back but he had to unless he wanted to starve. The dog was a disaster when hunting and all the animals scattered whenever he tried.

The dog arrived at the barn and went around back to find the little hole. He had worked hard to dig down through the dirt floor and under the big rocks. When he climbed through and into the barn, the other hunting dogs greeted him with a wag. The dog went to his corner and curled up, whimpering as he slept.

 

***

The dog woke up to harsh voices. The master and the neighbor came in through the barn door.

''I'm telling you, that dang dog is getting out and going somewhere,'' the master said.

"Why do you keep that dog anyway?" asked the neighbor. "Isn't that the one that can't hunt?"

Suddenly the master turned and kicked the dog in the ribs. "You're useless,'' he hissed.

The dog whimpered and cowered. He didn't understand, why was every human mean?

''We've got work to do,'' the master said as he let the dog out of the barn. "Now listen, this is your last chance dog, so play well."

The dog waited obediently while the master closed the barn door. The dog didn't know where they were going. His head and tail drooped as they headed into the woods. When they rounded a bend the dog saw the deer waiting in the middle of the path. Just standing. Just waiting. The master threw a rock at the deer and the deer ran, but only a little ways before turning and looking back at the dog.

"A little pitiful thing that deer is," the master sneered.

The dog whimpered and looked up at the master, hoping for kindness. But the master turned his back. He grabbed the dog's scruff and dragged him back to the barn. ''Get in there, mutt,'' the master demanded, "You're useless."

The dog slunk in and curled up in his little corner. He was so lonely on the farm. No one to play with. No friends.

***

The dog woke up. He got up and went to the edge of the barn where his hole was supposed to be. It was not there. The dog dug another hole, his paws aching, and climbed through it just to face another problem: he was on the neighbor's property. His guard dogs turned as one and charged. They were strong, but thankfully they were dumb and slow.

The dog sprinted the other way diving around barrels and hay bales. He was smart and fast, so he soon lost the guard dogs. He slowed down to a trot than to a walk, panting heavily. When the dog regained his breath he sped up again to follow a well-worn path.

When the dog arrived, the deer was waiting as usual. She was curled up on the ground but disentangled herself when she saw the dog. The two animals started to romp around, diving and weaving around trees. Suddenly the deer turned and headed off in the opposite direction. The dog was curious, so he followed.

Minutes later, the deer stopped on a small hill and looked back. When the dog caught up, he watched her nose at a small bundle of fur. The cat opened her big green eyes. Suddenly something took over inside the dog, something he had only felt once before: love. The dog curled up around the little animal keeping him safe from the harsh winds.

 

***

In the morning the dog woke up cold and hungry wishing for a warm bed. He looked for the kitten and saw him a little ways off meowing loudly. The dog went over and picked him up by the scruff, bringing him back over to the hill. The dog looked around for the deer but didn't see her. He whimpered at the thought of going back to the master but he had to because he needed food and so did the kitten. As the dog turned to go, the little cat started to yowl in big heaping breaths causing such a ruckus that all the birds in the field took flight. The dog ran back and gently picked the little guy up, being as gentle as can be. Both animals headed toward the dreaded farm, the dog going as slow as possible.

When they arrived, the dog put the sleepy kitten behind a tree and walked out by himself. He went around back to where his hole was, climbed through it, and smashed his face right into the master's boot.

"There you are," the master growled looking down on the dog.

The dog whimpered, looking as sorry as he could.

"Someone just arrived and is demanding to see you," said the neighbor who just came up behind.

"Really, well tell him to wait.''

"It's a woman," the neighbor stated.

"Yes I am a woman," said an old woman indignantly.

Both men spun around, both looking as flustered as a chicken.

"What are you doing to that poor dog?" the woman asked.

"Just disciplining him ma'am," the master answered meekly.

"Humph."

"Well than ma'am why are you here?" the master asked. "We don't usually get a lot of visitors."

"Well I can see why but I am here because I want to buy some of your do-,"

"They ain't for sale," interrupted the master.

"Really, because I can give you something you deserve."

That made the master perk up.

"And what would I deserve?" the master gloated.

"Jail!"

Just than the police arrived around the corner, "You're under arrest for animal abuse."

"You can't do this," the master argued, "my dogs are perfectly fine here! My dog right here"-- he pointed at the cowering dog -- "always comes back when he leaves. That is true devotion!"

"No it's not. I see him sometimes walk by my house to go see a deer; that is true devotion."

The police put on the handcuffs with a sharp click and led the master toward a parked car.

            "There-there, its ok, I'm not going to hurt you," said the woman gently. "Come on let's go to your new home."

The dog followed the woman like a good dog should but then the dog stopped, turned around, and trotted toward the trees. The old woman watched him go with a happy smile.

The dog gently plucked the kitten up and carried it to the woman, setting it in her lap.

"Oh poor thing," cooed the woman.

The dog wagged his tail and barked, but suddenly he stopped, remembering that whenever he barked, the master always yelled at him to be quiet.

"Ok, let's go." The woman led the dog to the car, putting him in the back seat. She put the car into gear and headed down the road.

Suddenly the dog jumped up and barked and pawed the window.

"It's ok dog, you will see your friend soon."

The dog whined pitifully but he laid down.

      

*

When they arrived at the woman's house the dog jumped up and ran as fast as he could into the woods bumping right into the deer! The dog yipped and stared at the deer in astonishment.

"Ha ha ha ha ha," laughed the woman, "didn't expect your friend to be here now did you?"

The dog and the deer played all that evening, but not in the woods; they played in the yard. They had the best of fun.

The dog left the deer and trotted back to the house. He went inside and followed his nose and it brought him to a big slab of meat. The dog jumped up and then down, up, down, up, down.

"Wait a second," laughed the woman.

"Woof," complained the dog.

 

As the woman cleaned up, the dog watched.

He watched with joy.

He watched with hope.

He watched a new friend.

 

 

The End

 


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