January 31, 2017 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Despite the fact that it’s simply a group of sheep that have been let loose, the fair itself begins to dissolve and scatter. The women taking part in the beauty pageant snatch up their skirts and rush back behind the heavy red curtain, vanishing into their rooms.

The crowd is quick to disperse. People slither away from the stage, muttering and talking amongst themselves.

“Irresponsible,” says one of them. “I can’t believe they would let all these animals loose.”

Someone else says, “it’s shabby workmanship. You know, they used to get actual paid employees out here to set this up. Now that everything’s turned into volunteers, people with no idea about what they’re doing are in charge.”

“Kids,” mutters a third person. “It’s always because of the kids.”

That last one is, as far Chase is concerned, very much the truth. There’s no doubt in his mind that this is the handywork of the two boys they had been watching earlier. He trades unamused looks with Princess.

“This isn’t good,” says Princess, ears drooping. “Do you think that boy in charge of the sheep is going to be in trouble for this?”

“Possibly,” answers Jag. “You know how strange humans can be.”

Their own humans, for example, are currently tugging at leads and leading the crowd away with the rest of the crowd. It looks like the group is heading back to Food Alley, no doubt for one last grab of funnel cakes, deep fried Twinkies, and other artery clogging goodies.

As WooFDriver steps up to one of the vendors, Chase’s head snaps up. Of all the husky dogs, he is the best at tracking – there are few scents that he can’t name, even less that he can’t chase down. Right now, beneath the bread dough being fried, the chicken being baked, and the lamb being roasted, there’s something else.

“Sheep,” he says. “The sheep are here. At least, some of them.”

Princess cocks her head to the side. She parts her jaws, trying to get a better taste of the air. “We need to let the others know. Maybe we can help!”

“I know that I can help,” chirps Chase.

Princess laughs. “What, because you’ve spoken to a herding dog? Practice and theory are two very completely things. Just because someone told you about it, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to do this.”

A sheep baa’s in the not so far distance. Chase tugs at his lead, pulling against it until WooFDriver has no choice but to follow or fuss – and he seldom fusses over something like this.

“I can do this,” says Chase. He pulls and tugs at the lead, guiding them away from the food vendors and into the next alley over, where several booths have been put up to sell hand made jams, jellies, and canned peppers. “Look! There’s a sheep! Two of them!”

There are, in fact, two white wooled sheep milling about near a jelly booth. They look up at the sudden appearance of humans and dogs.

“Dog,” baa’s one of the sheep. “Dog. Dog. Wolf-dog? Wolf-dog.”

The second sheep, slightly larger than the first, says, “bad thing. Wolf-dog, bad thing. Leave bad thing.”

“Leave bad thing,’ agrees the first. They start to shuffle, slowly, away from the dogs.

WooFDriver lets out a surprised laugh. He says, “I think Chase wants to play his hand at herding sheep!”

Chris nods. He asks, “do you want to give it a go? I don’t think he would hurt them and, well, these people aren’t getting very far with herding them up.”

“It’s worth a shot,” says WooFDriver. He kneels down next to Chase, running fingers over the husky dog’s head. “You want to see what you can do, buddy? Just keep them still long enough we can grab them!”

Chase barks in agreement. “Alright! I can do this. I know that I can do this!”

The moment that the halter and lead are taken off, Chase darts forward. He has spent a very long time talking with the Shepherd dog, and he can remember her notes and nudges now. They had chased after the leaves, and the other dogs, and the squirrels.

Chase remembers those things now, as he flings himself forward. His paws churn up thick clumps of dirt. Blades of sweeping, bending grass get ripped right out of the ground. “Hey! Hey, sheep! This way! You have to go this way.”

There’s a moment of startled staring and then, just as Chase had hoped, they dart in the opposite direction.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author