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A Junkyard Dog General: The Army of Dogs, Toe and Her

Mike is a long-time supporter of procrastination and enjoys doing as often as he can.

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The following

The following picks up a day after the events of The Army of Dogs and follows the dog named Toe in his efforts to find a girl named Julie who was taken by a bear.

Toe and Her

The bear left a trail of scent and destruction wide enough for a blind dog to follow. It had almost a day of a head start, and Toe was working on a splitting headache and sore jaw. Two days ago, Toe had helped a group of dogs take on an army of deer bent on killing off humanity. He was looking for his brother when he saw the battle and knew he had to do something. He had helped a dog that, at one time, had forced him out of a group of dogs. Looking back, Toe could see why Rex had did what he did, and he could also understand why Tac stayed. They weren’t brothers, but Toe didn’t see it that way. The three of them had been family from near the start, and he had hoped they would be that way until the end. This bear had killed their brother Tic, and now it had this girl that fought alongside the army of dogs. He was gaining ground, but he was also tired, too tired to take on a bear.

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Toe found a safe place in the loft of an old barn and went to sleep. The barn was a long way away from where he started, A lifetime ago. His first memories were of her. He never knew her name; she was just her. Toe was just a puppy surrounded by other puppies in a fenced-in area waiting for someone to come and adopt them. He doesn’t remember his mother or his real brothers and sisters. His earliest memory was of her picking him up and saying to her father she wanted him. From the start, Toe knew there was something wrong with Her. She had this scent the other humans didn’t have. She was also hairless wearing a scarf or what he came to know to be a wig. On the good days, they played in the yard, on the bad ones he lay next to her in bed. Soon, the bad days overtook the good ones, and she died.

Cancer wasn’t a word a dog could understand. She died long before her time, and her parents didn’t want anything to remind them of her. One day, Toe found himself in a metal box in someplace called a pound with two other dogs. One of the humans called them Larry, Curly, and Moe, while the nicer human called them Tic Tac and Toe. The three dogs were still puppies, but Toe was older by about a week. Toe watched how the humans worked, how some dogs were taken into one room and came out with people, and in another room, they came out dead. The dogs going to the dead room were given a last meal of hamburger, and a tag was placed on their door. Time passed, and no one wanted him or the other two. Soon a tag was placed on their door. One night the nicer human came in and leashed all three dogs. He took them out a back door to a waiting truck and a cage. Toe’s life became about cages from then on until the fall of man.

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The human put them into a bigger cage and fed them raw meat for about a week. Toe could remember how the meat made him feel angry like it was laced with something. One night he was brought into a room filled with hostile shouting humans and was tossed into a larger cage. A side opened, and a larger dog came in. Toe had never seen anything like this dog. He was four-times his size and covered in scars. The human call Toe bait, saying he was a warmup for the main event.

The dog lunged at him, snapping and biting. Toe backed away until his back hit the cage. Something sharp bit Toe, and he jumped into the air over the angry snapping dog. The crowd cheered. The bigger dog was slower than Toe. Someone in the crowd yelled, “kill the bait dog.” The bigger dog’s eyes went wide, and it lunged at Toe, just as Toe lowered his stance, hoping the bigger dog would jump over him. The bigger dog bashed into Toe, biting down into his fur. In more of a reflex then any kind of attack, Toe bit the big dog in the throat. Toe was covered in blood as the big dog yelped in surprise. The crowd went silent. The big dog ran to a corner with a blood trail following, it went into a ball, whining and panting. Toe could remember the feeling of horror he felt watching this dog die; then, the crowd came to life cheering for the small dog that killed the champ.

The rest was more of a blur; then, he knew it should be. He could remember being taught how to kill, first as a solo act; then, with the other dogs, he came to know as brothers. He could remember all the faces of the smaller dogs they killed, the bait dogs. When the deer struck killing off all the people at the dog fights, Toe didn’t feel any kind of loss. The alien boxes offered them the ability to understand each other and a way to get back at the humans that used them as entertainment. The humans made them killers, and he would make sure they would pay for that mistake. This was when they met Rex and the others.

The Story where Tic Tac and Toe met Rex and the others

After Toe was chased off by the others and the bear that killed Tic, he had walked around the countryside looking for a way to fit in. He found another group of dogs heading west looking for the deer. One night, Toe had separated from the pack and was watching a beaver build a dam. It worked at its life’s calling as if nothing had changed in the world. He came back to find his new pack dead among the bodies of fallen deer. One dog lived just long enough to tell him the deer had turned on them.

Toe woke the next morning and ran following the dwindling scent of the bear. Off in the distance, he could hear a human girl saying, “stop, help, stop it.” Toe came over a hill to find a landfill. The bear was on top of an old van. The girl was on the ground being attacked by something small. The closer Toe got, the more the girl’s pleas seemed more like laughter. Toe came around the corner to find the girl with some puppies as they licked her face and ran around. Soon all the words she was saying made more sense. She wasn’t in trouble; she was happy.

A booming voice came from on top of the van, “what are you doing here, little dog thing.”

Toe said, “well, I thought I was coming here to rescue the little girl.”

The bear had made itself a family with the small puppies only to come to understand they would eventually need someone to watch over them when he went into hibernation. The bear wanted to help the puppies learn to live in the human world, so he went looking for a dog-friendly human.

The bear said, “I killed someone important to you, and I am sorry for what I did, but if you want to do the same understand I will stop you from hurting my family.”

Toe looked at the girl who looked back at him.

Toe said, “I promised a good dog. I would find this girl and help her get back to her family. I have no interest in hurting you and yours; I don’t want to kill anymore.”

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A week later, Julie stepped out of the small cabin near the landfill onto a porch. She sat next to a white German Shepard as it watched over a group of puppies playing in the yard. From on top of an old van nearby, the bear watched them and the surroundings making sure it was safe. Using a radio, Julie called her sisters every day, letting them know she was safe. Her new strange family would keep her safe while she did the same for them. She stroked Toe’s head. Toe looked up at Julie, thinking about how he had felt about the girl he had only known as her and remembered how he felt all those years ago when just being beside someone you care about was the best thing in the world.

© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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