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Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 7

Updated on October 25, 2017
PegCole17 profile image

Peg is an avid dog lover whose collection of rescued strays spans decades. Her dogs live in the house as members of the family.

Buddy Lee on his own.
Buddy Lee on his own.

Rover stopped at the edge of the lake and took a long, cool drink while Buddy, unfamiliar with a body of water this large, splashed in up to his elbows enjoying the feel of the cool, mushy sand under his paws. Their arrival startled a family of ducks floating along the marshy bank. They took flight skimming the glassy surface with their webbed toes.

“Ducks are good for eating, too,” Rover explained, “but they’re harder to catch since they can fly.” With that reminder Buddy’s mouth began to water at the thought of a duck for dinner. Mealtime at the house had always come at the same time every day. He missed the regularity of it. Perhaps his master would call to him soon. He envisioned himself scampering toward the sound of the man’s voice and napping in the truck bed and on the cool floor of the garage.

“Let’s go!” his new friend called from the bank of the lake. “Maybe we can flush out a squirrel.” Rover seemed knowledgeable in the ways of the woods, but as he crawled up the muddy bank beside the water, Buddy noticed how thin Rover appeared; how each of his ribs stood out clearly. One of Rover’s ears which normally stood up like his own had a ragged edge and was bent over forward. “Got that little souvenir in a fight,” he said, noticing the other dog’s gaze at the damaged ear. “Coyotes live in these woods. Best if we keep moving while it’s still daylight.”

Buddy realized what a big mistake he’d made jumping out of the truck. The truth of his master’s words rang clear in his memory. “Stick close, boy. You don’t want to get lost.” And yet, here he was in the woods following a strange dog deeper into the tall weeds and trees inching steadily away from his hopes for home.

Call Me to Come Back Home

Buddy Lee at six months old.
Buddy Lee at six months old.

His tail drooped and he carried his head lower as they resumed their pursuit on the rabbit’s elusive trail. Buddy trudged along behind Rover, following his lead as they made their way through the underbrush. Several times, he stopped to show Buddy things of interest like when they stopped at the site of a burned out campfire. There they found a pile of crumbs inside a crumpled potato chip bag. They tasted good, but the salt made them both thirsty again. Too far from the lake to go back, Buddy was unsure if he could remember the paths they had taken.

He held a fleeting vision of his nice clean water dish that always sat next to his food bowl on the kitchen floor. He wondered if his master was looking for him and if he would ever see him again. Night closed in on the two dogs as Buddy’s hopes began to fade. They chose to rest in the small clearing of the campsite.

Cool, Clean Water

It was the largest body of water Buddy had ever seen.
It was the largest body of water Buddy had ever seen.

He was lost in thought when an ear-piercing howl sounded nearby. Both his and Rover’s heads came up simultaneously. Rover’s undamaged ear came to attention and remained at full alert. “What was that?” he asked.

“Shhhhhh!” Rover hissed, his body trembling at the sound of a second voice that joined in the howling. “Coyotes,” whispered his companion. Rover and Buddy froze in place, suddenly alert. A chorus of howling was building in the distance as the shrill whistle of a far off train sounded. The closer it came, the louder the whistle. With each blast, more voices seemed to join in.

Buddy had seen a train once when his master’s truck stopped at a railway crossing in town. Their progress had been delayed for several minutes while railroad cars rolled slowly past on the tracks. His master had been displeased at the interruption of their journey through the neighborhood. He wondered if it was the same train he’d seen back then. If he could find the track, maybe he could follow it back to his old yard. He made up his mind to search for the tracks when daylight came. His hopes were lifted by his new plan and he felt so invigorated that he began to howl along with the sound of the whistle.

When the rumbling noise of the train faded into the distance, the howling died down and finally stopped. Rover and Buddy settled back into their places by the old campfire. After the long day’s journey, they fell into a restless sleep. Buddy had grown accustomed to sleeping indoors at the foot of his master’s bed. The night noises of crickets and flying insects were new to him. He awoke several times with a start not knowing where he was. It would all come back when he spotted the sleeping form of Rover nearby. His belly ached with hunger and he longed for a cool drink.

As he lay awake, bits of his previous life played out in his head. He thought about the neighbor’s children who often came to his fence and talked to him, stretching their small fingers through the chain link to touch his soft, warm fur and the times he and Master had taken the truck on different journeys. Once, when his master and he spent the day together, they’d gone to a field near their house. Master had thrown a Frisbee and Buddy had run merrily, chasing it again and again. Another day, he’d watched Master wash and wax the truck, the suds flowing happily down the driveway toward the street. He thought of his pillow behind the recliner where he was allowed to lie quietly during the evenings as the TV played his master’s favorite shows. Buddy was still a youngster but he already had a collection of memories to play back in the quiet of the forest.

He grew melancholy about disobeying his master by jumping out of the truck to follow Rover. When it came daylight he vowed to find the railroad tracks that would take him home. With that happy resolution, he fell back asleep and dreamed of the joyous homecoming he and Master would share.

~~~~

Buddy awoke to the sound of footsteps trampling through the bushes near the campsite. The full moon cast the shadowy image of a man wearing faded jeans and a flannel shirt carrying an overstuffed duffel bag. For an instant he thought it was his master but the man’s scent was different. Rover listened for a few seconds before dashing toward the silhouette wagging his stubby Doberman tail.

“You still here, boy?” the man asked. “Looks like you found a friend.” Buddy stood on the opposite side of the clearing from the stranger. “I’ll bet you’re both hungry.” The man talked in soothing tones as he pulled out a grocery bag and set it on a tree stump.

He made his way around the edge of the clearing gathering sticks for kindling, breaking the small branches across his raised leg. Then he formed a teepee of sorts using the larger pieces, stuffing the smaller sticks in the hollow underneath. The man pulled a pack of matches from his shirt pocket and set fire to a small twig before holding it beneath the mound of twigs. Within a short time, a warm fire blazed in the pit. He sat down on a stump and arranged some scattered stones into a circle around the campfire. With his pocketknife, he sharpened the long end of two forked branches and stuck them into the ground on either side of the fire. He repeated that process with two straight sticks, this time, sharpening the small ends to a point. Next he pulled a package of wieners and some buns out of the bag. Soon, several hot dogs were sizzling on a makeshift grill that teetered just above the flames.

Source

The dogs crept closer as the enticing smells drifted through the air, their mouths salivating freely. The man chomped the first hot dog down except for the end piece which he bit in two and tossed a piece to each canine. Rover expertly caught his and sat at attention watching the man as he slid another one into a bun. Small packets of ketchup and mustard from his pockets were torn open and squirted across the tops of the beef. Buddy inched closer watching the man intently waiting for another bite. Within a few minutes, the package of wieners and all but two of the buns were gone with each dog getting a fair share of the meal. Rover approached and licked the man’s hand in gratitude.

Stoking the fire with a stick, the man took a pipe and some tobacco from his pocket. He used the twig to light the bowl, sending an aroma of bitter cherry across the clearing. He continued to talk to the dogs as he smoked.

“Yeah, that train ride has me beat,” he said. “I rode that rail car all the way from Kankakee.” He laughed and started whistling a tune about trains. Buddy watched Rover and the man strike up a familiar camaraderie next to the blazing fire. With his belly full and the night grown quiet again, he longed for the company of his own master.

Soon enough the man unrolled a blanket from his back pack and after adding more wood to the fire, he lay down on the makeshift bed. He tamped out the spent tobacco from his pipe, returned it to his upper pocket and fell asleep next to the two watchful and grateful dogs.

© 2017 Peg Cole

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    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Chris, Thanks for your visit and great question. I hope you'll drop back in to find out.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello dear Maria,

      It's good to find a friend in the forest. These guys really needed a solid meal and some human company. Buddy is new to this life and learning things every day. I hope he is reunited with his master, too. We'll see...dum, dah, dummmm. I'm working on tying the loose ends together. Hope I can pull it off. Hugs to you and thanks for coming by.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Good man, sharing his food with the dogs. Is it a passing friendship or will they stay together?

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I'm grateful that Rover's 'friend' stopped to see the guys in the nick of time for a good meal.

      Buddy is living in the moment on sheer trust...wondering if his master is thinking of him / missing him as well ...

      Glad to see you have 15 chapters drafted, dear Peg. Off to Chapter 8. Hugs, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Gypsy, I believe you are right about sharing the loss with our animals and that they sense things that we can't see. I'm sorry about your husband and sorry that I was unaware of your loss. My deepest condolences to you and Sid. Thank goodness for animals to help us in these times of need with their own brand of understanding. Hugs and love to you.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Jackie, I believe that's right. They thrive on it. Nice to see you.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      I know both dogs and cats just need a voice to express the deepest love for the ones who love them. Last night had to return the love to my cat Sid. I has taken to sleeping next to me in bed. Must be missing my husband, his Papa a lot but he does eat like a horse so it's the memories. Suddenly in the early morning hours he woke me up meowing. Know cats I figured he saw my husband's spirit who must have been watching over us. Sid got so excited it was like he was wondering where he had been all this time. Finally when it all passed he went back to sleep as peaceful as can be.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      How sweet. Most animals do just long for love and companionship. Hope these guys find both.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh, Shyron, thank goodness you found Chipper. Of course he thought you should find him. That's your job, lol. Plus, being a dog slave is important work.

      Yes, Buddy is regretting his decision to go exploring. Thanks so much for your visit and the great comment.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago from Texas

      How sad for the desobedient puppy. Chipper got loose yesterday and I found him about half mile from the house

      and he was not concerned at all he was happy to see me but it was like he was expecting me.

      Wonderful story.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Tim, what a pleasure it was to see that you were interested in this story and even went back to find the other chapters. I'm glad you're feeling the empathy response to the tales of these lost creatures. Thank you.

      Here you go. I just cooked up these frankfurters on the George Foreman grill. Help yourself to a couple of them. Mustard?

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Flourish, I'm so sorry about your cow cat, Oreo. My friend Paula had a cat named Oreo, too. Losing an animal is heartbreaking and not knowing their fate must be worse. I've found my share of strays and always wished I could tell their former owners that they were okay, of course, not some of them who abandoned or mistreated their pets. Those, I had other words for.

      Thank you for taking in so many who truly needed you and for getting them fixed. The last cat that showed up here was a polydactyl, an orange beauty. I was so grateful that my vet wanted to keep him. He runs free at the vet clinic now and she's constantly posting photos of him doing funny things. I want to believe that someone nice took in your baby as well.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Linda, I'm so glad this chapter cheered you up. Thanks for sticking with it.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Verlie, I'm always glad to see you here and thanks so much for all your encouraging comments. Hoping to see a new story or poem from you soon.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Barbara, so glad you found this and want to catch up with the previous chapters. Yes, he's a kind man down on his luck. Thank you for the nice comment.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Nell Rose, I'm still working on this story and hoping it'll turn into a novel. So far I have about 15 chapters drafted. Glad you like it and the photo. (Of the fire?)

      BTW, I'm really enjoying reading your Ebook - Gypsies. Almost finished and will drop a few words on Amazon soon. Thanks for coming by!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 3 weeks ago from Escondido, CA

      Read this chapter, went back reading the previous, and am now hooked. Also, I am hungry for hot dogs :-) This series has captured my attention with the different stories unfolding. For me I see a thread unfolding - empathy. I feel the experiences of the characters while think of pups friends and family have. I eagerly await the next chapters . . .

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Thank goodness for kind humans. This story of lost dogs makes me think of the darling “cow cat” I lost two weeks after we moved from Ohio. That was more than 15 years ago. I searched everywhere for him but never found him and was so broken-hearted. He ran away from our new home and just never returned. In the intervening years there have been stray cats that found their way to our doorsteps. I knew that at one point someone had loved them them. I’ve fixed and taken in more than my share, making them family. Two are sitting with me right now. I just hope someone did that for my Oreo.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It was great to read that the dogs got some food. That must have cheered them up as it did me!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 3 weeks ago from Canada

      Peg, what a great Hobo fire, and a great story. What else can I say, except pass the mustard please!

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Paula, They don't seem to mind ketchup and mustard on their food or onions and relish. Ha ha. Yes, I'm thankful he came along, too. And just in time it seems. Glad you came along as well. Thank you! I turned on the radio on the way home yesterday and the first song (Al Green) was playing. It seemed like an omen so I had to add it.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Bill, Thanks for being first to get here and for the nice comment. I imagine life in the forest would be pretty scary. Something to tell their pups, indeed! Thanks so much for the encouragement and for the visit.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 weeks ago from Templeton, CA

      I see I missed a few chapters. I need to go back and catch up. I'm glad the man shared his meal with the hungry dogs.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 weeks ago from England

      These should be ebooks! or did I miss that? love this! and that photo! lol!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Yum!! Hot dogs...Rrrrrrruffff! "Hold the pickles, hold the onion. Just keep 'em comin, we are famished!"

      I feel better now that our furry friends have had some food, some attention from a human & a nice warm fire. I'm wondering how Buddy's master is dealing with his absence?

      Nice tunes added!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great adventures for our main characters. Scary adventures for sure, but stories they can tell their pups in later years. :) Keep them coming, Peg!