“Where are we?” asked Bummer
“How do I know, we’ve never been here before,” replied Jes.
“That’s not terribly helpful.”
“Well, you’re the one who thought jumping the fence was a good idea.”
“Well you followed.”
“I wasn’t about to let you wander around loose. You’d get in sooo much trouble. Let’s keep going.”
They trotted down the street until the street ended. Past a set of iron gates lay a wide open space surrounded by woods with trails leading off to the left and right.
“Flip a coin,” said Bummer.
“You don’t have a coin,” replied Jes. “You don’t have thumbs.”
And left they went.
They made their way down a meandering trail that led deeper into the woods. After awhile they came to a fork in the trail.
“If you say ‘flip a coin’ I’m going to bite you,” said Jes.
“Fine, right it is.”
This trail sloped down at a steep angle and even deeper into the woods. Though it was morning, the tree cover was so thick it was like civil twilight along the trail. When they reached the bottom, they found themselves staring at a river.
“Go for a swim?” asked Bummer.
“I don’t do water,” replied Jes, and she turned to the left and began to trot down the trail that ran along side the river. Bummer ran to catch up.
The air was redolent with the smell of decaying leaves and river mud and animals of every kind. The two of them walked, their noses in the air, taking in all the glorious scents and marking this new found territory.
“Squirrels,” mumbled Bummer.
“What?” replied Jes.
“Squirrels squirrels squirrels.”
Jes turned on him. “Stop.”
“What have I told you about squirrels, Bummer. They’re messing with you. They dash about, enticing you to give chase and when you do they run just fast enough to make you think you’ll catch them. Then, at the last minute, BAM, up a tree they go, stopping half way up to turn and chatter at you. Do you know what that chattering is? It’s laughter. They’re laughing at you, jumping around like a fool trying to climb up after them. Cats climb trees, Bummer. You’re not a cat.”
She turned and continued down the trail, Bummer following, daydreaming of squirrels.
By and by they came to a bridge that crossed the river. The trail wandered off to the left.
“Whata ya think?” asked Bummer.
“Let’s see where the bridge takes us,” said Jes.
They crossed over, pausing for a moment at the top of the span to watch the river flow. Continuing across, they made their way up a steep hill on the other side. Soon they found themselves out in the open. It was a hazy day, the sun a pale orb in the sky overhead. A light rain was falling. They followed a trail of woodchips until they came to something they both recognized.
“It’s the park,” said Bummer. “The one our human takes us to all the time.”
“Yeah,” replied Jes. And they both began to run.
They ran like maniacs through the open fields, chasing each other, knocking each other down getting back up and running some more. Finally, exhausted, they collapsed to the ground, panting hard. They hadn’t been there long when a rustle in the tall grass caught their attention. A cat stepped out. Bummer started to rise.
“You hassle me, boy, and I’ll claw your eyes out.”
Bummer lay back down.
“Names Asher,” the cat said. “I’ve seen you two here before with your human. Don’t see him around. You two run away?”
“Run away?” said Jes. “No, no, we’re, uh, we’re sort of on an … adventure.”
“Adventure, huh. Okay.”
Asher looked around, swished his tail and turned in a circle.
“The reason I stopped by was to warn you there’s a mean-assed Shepherd running loose in the park. He’s already attacked two other dogs. Hurt one pretty bad. If you’re going to hang around, you need to watch your back.” He swished his tail again, turned in a circle and began to walk away. “Have a nice day.”
Asher disappeared into the tall grass just as a heavy rain began to fall.
Jes and Bummer leapt to their feet and ran to the nearest copse of trees.
“Ah, this is nice,” sighed Bummer.
“Yeah, and more or less dry. I like dry,” replied Jes.
They wandered about in the detritus, taking in the smells, taking in the soothing sound of the rain without the annoyance of getting soaked by it. A low growl brought them up short. The turned and there stood the hulking mean-assed Shepherd Asher had warned them about.
“What are you doing in my woods?”
“Sorry,” said Jes. “We didn’t know it was yours. We’ll leave.”
“I don’t think so,” growled the Shepherd, and he charged.
Jes and Bummer had practically grown up together from pups. They had spent nearly every day tussling and play fighting in the back yard. They had the moves.
Jes broke right, Bummer left. The move confused the Shepherd giving Bummer the chance to chomp down on his tail. The Shepherd yelped and turned on Bummer. Jes gave the Shepherd a head butt, knocking him off balance. As he fell he was able to nip Bummer hard on the shoulder. Bummer yelped and went down. The Shepherd rolled but before he could fully rise, Jes was on him. She clamped down on the side of his head, around his ear and sank her teeth in. Bummer came at him from the other side and clamped down on the side of his neck.
The Shepherd howled and thrashed, trying to shake them off. He managed to break loose from Bummer but Jes had a tight hold on him. The Shepherd jerked sharply to the left and Jes stumbled. The Shepherd broke free, slashing his teeth across Jes’ nose before running off yowling, tail tucked squarely between his legs.
“You okay?” asked Bummer. “He got you a good one. You’re bleeding.”
“I know, I can taste the blood. He nailed you pretty good, too. That’s a nasty gash you have on your shoulder.”
They stood there a moment in silence, licking each others wounds.
“We kicked his ass, huh?” said Bummer.
“Yeah. Yeah, we did,” she said, chuckling. “But I think maybe it’s time we headed home.”
“Yeah, I think so, too. You think we can find our way back?”
“Duh. We’re dogs. And you peed on damn near every tree we came to so there shouldn’t be a problem finding our way back.”
By the time they arrived home, Bummer was limping badly.
“I think I’m going to have trouble with this fence,” he said.
“Go for it, I’ll help.”
He leaped, got a hold of the top rail but couldn’t pull himself all the way over. Jes came up behind him, gave him a shove and over he went. She followed right behind.
No sooner had they hit the ground then their human appeared.
“What the hell happened to you guys?” he asked, concern in his voice.
Jes and Bummer looked at each other and back at him.
In unison they barked (We had a good day).