Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 8

Updated on October 30, 2017
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Peg lives on ten acres northeast of Dallas with her husband, their two dogs, stray cats and the occasional opossum.

Source

It was still dark when the hot dog man and the two dogs awoke. The fire had long since burned to smoldering embers before forming a thick covering of gray ash.

“What’s for breakfast?” the man asked in a voice thick with sleep. Buddy perked up at the word and began to drool at the prospect of more food. Rover lay with his head between his paws, his chin on the ground waiting for clues concerning mealtime.

Hot dog man gathered his bedroll into a neat bundle and returned it to his backpack. He made sure the fire was out and scattered the stones before heading toward the lake with the two canines followed faithfully behind him. The path Rover and Buddy had followed on their quest for rabbits wound in circles around trees and thick overgrowth. The direct route the man took was only a twenty minute hike.

Early morning fog began to dissipate as rays of sunlight filtered down through the leaves. The three made good time despite Rover’s side trips circling around in search of fresh rabbit trails. Buddy stayed within eyesight of the man who reminded him of his master. His longing for home and his rightful place at his master’s side grew in the presence of the man.

The fog burned off as the sun rose above the trees.
The fog burned off as the sun rose above the trees. | Source

They soon reached an opening at the edge of the wooded area which led to an expanse of clean, sandy beach stretching for a distance before the overgrowth took over again. The man hung his backpack on a sturdy branch and pulled a bar of soap out of a zippered compartment, then, began removing his clothing. He entered the chilly water and started lathering himself up. The lake was clear and calm like a mirror with an expanse of water that stretched across a vast valley surrounded by trees. After his bath, the man dressed and walked a short distance into the clearing and climbed out on a tree limb that jutted out over the lake.

Perched on the ledge over the water, he pulled out a flat spool of cardboard wound up with fishing line. Toward the hook end were knobs of crimped split shot to carry the bait to the bottom. Using rounded wads of leftover hot dog buns, he threaded the hook and cast the bait into the water and waited patiently for a strike.

He listened to the merriment of the dogs chasing around on dry land along old rabbit trails and flushing out coveys of birds. The sun was high in the sky when the hot dog man pulled in his fishing line for the final time and transferred the hand-sized bream from the hook to the stringer with the others.

The tired dogs rested on the bank keeping track of the man’s whereabouts with their eyes. They watched intently as he carried the stringer of fish to a flat rock where he scaled, cleaned and expertly cut them into fillets. He tossed the guts into the lake where a group of birds hovered on branches waiting to swoop down for the scraps.

“These are all good eating size. They should cook up really nice,” he told them.

Using the soap he’d left to dry on the fishing tree, he washed his hands and packed the fillets into the empty grocery bag. He grabbed his jacket, the duffel bag and headed back toward camp. The dogs hopped up and followed behind him, their noses focused on the smell of the fish bouncing against his knapsack with each step.

They found the clearing exactly as they’d left it. On their way back, the man had gathered branches and deadwood which he dropped next to the cold ring of ashes. He gathered the round stones from the night before and formed them into a circle. In the center of the fire pit, he built a platform using two large rocks that had a smooth surface. On top of those, he balanced a thin, flat piece of slate. With kindling tucked around the platform and a couple of logs underneath, he again set fire to the mound.

Source

When the fire reached a certain point, hot dog man pulled a small pot from his knapsack and filled it with water from his canteen. He set it to boil on the rock platform. He dumped some coffee grounds into the water when it boiled. A tin cup came from his bottomless knapsack and he expertly poured the brown liquid into it adding a packet of sugar from another pocket.

He found his mess kit and flipped open the handle on the frying pan. One by one, he squirted mayonnaise on each of the fillets and dropped them into the hot pan. The sizzling aroma of fish frying had the dogs salivating where they rested lying as close as they dared to the blazing fire.

Source

Off in the distant forest the shrill whistle of a train sounded and the low rumble of its powerful engine vibrated the ground. Rover sat upright and listened as howling began in the surrounding woods joined at once by Rover and Buddy. The aroma of food cooking had drawn a group of neighboring creatures which the dogs could smell but not see. Buddy was again reminded of the tracks he vowed to follow in his quest to get home.

For the moment, they were both content to be here with the hot dog man which they now thought of as the food man, who promised to share his dinner with them. The whistle blew again as the train moved further down the tracks and the man turned back to the fire to tend to the meal.

Source

~~~~

Soft tones of yellow and gray peeked through the branches of the surrounding forest as morning once again found the campsite. The man folded his bed roll stuffing it back into his pack as the anxious dogs looked on. They sensed a change in the routine that had developed over the past few days. Rover understood that the man would soon be heading back to the tracks to hitch a ride on the next train as he had done in the past. Buddy glanced eagerly at the smoldering ashes of the fire hoping to see signs of a morning meal. The man finally spoke.

“I have to be moving on down the road,” he told them. “Sure wish I could take you two with me,” he said with a genuine note of sadness in his voice. Pouring last night’s cold coffee on the embers, he packed away the coffee pot and gathered the remaining items scattered around the clearing.

He cut a small leafy branch from a low hanging limb and used it to sweep away his footprints around the site, careful to erase the path leading to the lake. He had a habit of covering his tracks. He looked over the campsite to ensure no traces remained tying him to this place, then, headed toward the rising sun through the brush.

Source

In the distance, a low rumble vibrated through the ground. The oncoming freight train was still miles away. The howling voices grew louder as the train whistle blew again. Both dogs followed as the man worked his way up the sloping terrain where he would board the train as it slowed for the incline. Close to the tracks, he stopped and waited in the shadows beside the track.

From his pouch, he pulled out two portions of fish reserved from last night’s meal. The deafening roar of the engine churning up the hill prevented any final words when, at the last possible moment, the man ran out and jumped onto a flatbed car near the rear of the procession. He threw each dog their portion of fish as they skulked behind in the brush, fearful of the noise. Rover grabbed his fish and ran behind the caboose chewing as he ran.

A Great Story about Hobos - 6 minutes

The gap between the train and the running dogs grew as the terrain leveled out and the train picked up speed. Buddy had swallowed his fish whole, then took up the chase in the dust of the vanishing train, finally reaching the spot where Rover had stopped running. They both stood on the tracks watching their man who had crawled to the top of a boxcar. He waved a solemn hand at the two forlorn dogs.

They followed the tracks where the train had disappeared over a hill hoping to catch up with their human friend. At first their pace was swift, the smell of the man still strong in their noses despite the fumes of the locomotive. As the day wore on, their pace slowed and tired legs and thirst took them once again into the cool shade of the woods.

"Hey, where'd you go?"
"Hey, where'd you go?"

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Peg Cole

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      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 4 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Peggy, That's the kind of life that the Hot Dog man is living at the moment. I recall a lot of songs and themes about these transitory types that worked a job wherever there was a need. My childhood costume at Halloween was often to dress as a Hobo.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 4 months ago from Houston, Texas

        After the Great Depression there were many so called hobos who hopped the train and try to get odd jobs here and there when they would briefly settle in an area. It was a transitory way of life. Buddy and Rover at least got some good meals while the "hot dog man" was there.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 4 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hey Mike, hopping on the rails was always a childhood dream after reading "The Boxcar Children." Glad Buddy and Rover will have some company that will perhaps catch them some fish for dinner. Thanks.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Peg - I ran along the railroad car and hopped on along with the food man. Then jumped off, thinking I might just stay with Rover and Buddy.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Barbara, There are a few stories going on here. It's probably tough to follow with a one chapter at a time format here on HP. Sometimes I have to go back in a book and refresh my memory on characters.

        This chapter is a set up for future developments and a continuation of the Buddy-Rover connection. It introduces a new character who will likely return. Thanks for sticking with it.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Shyron, The train fading into the distance, I like that description. Thanks so much for reading and for the kind words about the chapter.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Chris Mills, Thank you. I really appreciate your feedback and thoughtful comment.

      • WannaB Writer profile image

        Barbara Radisavljevic 5 months ago from Templeton, CA

        I backtracked here from episode 9 and I'm still trying to figure out how they go together. I hope 10 is coming soon. And I hope Buddy connect with his master again.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 5 months ago from Texas

        Peg, this chapter is really great, I can picture the sadness in the dogs eyes as they watched the train fade in the distance.

        I hope Buddy finds his master.

        Blessings my friend.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thanks, Linda. It's nice of you to say that. Truly appreciate your continued readership.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Verlie, your comments always make me feel special and uplifted. Thanks so much. Glad you liked the songs, too.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hey there, Bill. I didn't know that about your dad. He must have had some incredible stories from those days. Hope he was able to share some of them with you. So glad you liked the riding the rails part.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Tim, Since today is Halloween I'll admit that as a child I dressed up as a Hobo to go out trick or treating. Perhaps many of us thought about a life on the railroad. Very glad that you came by to read this and found the angel at the campfire.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 5 months ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

        You strike a good balance between giving the dogs too much knowledge to be believable and too little to communicate the story. Very well done.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is a lovely chapter, despite its sad ending. The pictures that you choose fit the story so well, Peg.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Gypsy, Campfire cooking is the best. Thanks for coming by and staying with the story.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Maria, With your usual intuitive sense you know we'll see the food man again down the road. So glad you're along for the ride and thank you so much for the encouraging words. Hugs.

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        Verlie Burroughs 5 months ago from Canada

        Peg, Loving this story, delicious scenes and scents and sounds. Great insight, and excellent timing. You've stirred up lots of emotion in this chapter. Song choice is perfect.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Paula, I'm glad you liked the bond between the hot dog man and the dogs. He's down on his luck just like they are and hopefully they'll see him again down the road (or the tracks). Thanks so much for your visit and encouraging comments.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Flourish, maybe he'll make a comeback. You never know. Thanks for the sentiments and the visit.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I love the "riding the rails" portion. My father rode the trains during the Great Depression, so I really enjoyed this chapter.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        I'm glad you liked the friendship between the hot dog man and the dogs, MsDora. He's a lot like them, making the best of his freedom to move about and make do with what he has.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Kari, Wow, thanks for going back to read the previous chapters and for following along this dog tale. I used to love dog stories as a child, too.

      • tsmog profile image

        Tim Mitchell 5 months ago from Escondido, CA

        Wonderful to know there are angels in life that return. As a kid I always thought of riding the trains. I'm glad you brought that into the light.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 5 months ago from Riga, Latvia

        What a wonderful journey and adventure. Could just smell that fish cooking. Looking forward to more.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 5 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

        I'm grateful these two guys had some human kindness and decency with 'food man'. Hoping it won't be long before he comes back to spend time with his K9 pals.

        Looking forward to the next installment, dear Peg.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 5 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Awww...."So long, Hot dog man, come back soon!" Too bad the dogs had to watch as their friend, who'd just basically saved their lives, had to move on. It was a very special experience to see how a complete stranger would happen upon our canine buddies and just naturally fall into place as their hero. This guy included the dogs in his meals as though he was entertaining guests for dinner.

        Now that's a special human being.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

        Bless that hot dog man. Wish he didn’t have to go away.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 5 months ago from The Caribbean

        What a beautiful friendship between the man and the dogs? Why cannot everyone be so kind and sweet to animals and to each other? Good read as always!

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 5 months ago from Ohio

        I'm enjoying this story very much. As a child I used to read many books about dogs and horses. I just read all the chapters and now I'm quite caught up in it. I'll be looking forward to more chapters. :)

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thanks, Jackie, for reading on and for enjoying the photos. A couple of them are in our neighborhood. We live pretty far away from the city.

        I'm heading over to your story now.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 5 months ago from The Beautiful South

        Got lost in the wonderful photos before I could start reading, Peg. Lucky lady if this is your back yard!

        Sounds like a great journey for these poor dogs, long as they can get something in their bellies! I will be waiting for more!

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