February 11, 2017 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Chase isn’t a natural herder. In fact, he’s never done anything like this before. The actions are stilted and stumbling, far from the smooth response that comes from a cue given by his WooFDriver when he’s hooked to a sled, when he’s hooked to the WooFMobile.

Still, it’s better than nothing. After a few stumbles where they almost slip away, Chase manages to get the two wayward sheep pinned in the back of one of the stands. They’re afraid, obviously, but they are naturally prone to following directions and orders.

“My, my, my,” says a distinctly Southern drawl. A rather plump looking man appears on the other side of the stand. He’s wearing a red and white pin striped vest and a ridiculous looking straw hat. “You’ve got quite the dog there, sir.”

“Yeah, I sure do. Good job, Chase,” says WooFDriver, cheerfully. “You work here, right? Is there someone that can come get the sheep?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got some boys coming out here to grab them. They should be here any moment. I’m Maxwell, one of the men in charge here. And I’ve got a proposition for you. If you can get those dogs to help us round up the rest of the sheep, well, I’ll be more than happy to give you a grand reward.”

WooFDriver starts to say, “we don’t need a reward.”

Chris elbows him in the side before he can finish. “Don’t turn down something like that. Sure thing, Maxwell. We’d love to help.”

What follows is an hour and a half spent searching the fair for the missing sheep. Chase leads the way and does most of the work, darting around the sheep, urging them to go the way he wants.

Princess, Jag and Zarro join in after a while. They dart and race around, gathering up the sheep. When all is said and done, Chase is panting hard, sides heaving and tongue hanging out of his mouth.

“That was so much fun,” he breathes. “That was awesome! I can’t wait to get home and tell the dogs at the park all about this.”

Princess snorts. “The dogs? Quit playing, Chase. We all know there’s only one dog out there that you want to tell.”

Chase whines. “That’s not true! I think it’s neat, and there are a bunch of dogs out there that would want to hear about it.”

“Right,” snorts Zarro. Herding the sheep has finally broken the tension that had settled over the pack. They don’t have any problem joking and laughing with each other as the humans lead them back to the main stage. While most of the festivities have ended, there’s still a few people milling around, picking up the last minute craft or an extra jar of home made jelly.

And, of course, there’s Maxwell. He grins when the group appears. “There we are,” he crows, holding out his arms. “The heroes of the day!”

“I’d hardly call us heroes,” laughs WooFDriver. “It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Chris is quick to point out, “all of the sheep are locked back up.”

Maxwell nods. “That’s what the boys were telling me. Listen now, I know you lot said that you didn’t need a reward, but I can’t let you leave without something as a treat. We have a lot of left over pork from the cook out earlier, and I’d like to give you a cooler full of it.”

Chris’s smile fades away a little bit. “Oh. Great. That’s, uh, real awesome.”

“It is,” insists WooFDriver, cheerfully. “We’re doing the trail right now, and that would work great for a cook out later. And the dogs would probably love something fresh for a change. Thanks a lot, Mister Maxwell.”

The cooler is large and old, piled full of ice and fresh butchered pork. It’s at least half of a hog, takes Rhett and Chris both to lift it up and shove it into the back of the car.

Chris wipes the sweat off his face with one arm, giving the cooler a dour look. “Some reward.”

Rhett snorts in response. “Don’t be like that. You can’t say it wasn’t great watching the dogs. They looked like they were having fun. Did you see Chase?”

“Yeah, I guess. Do you know if we’re stopping in Garret, or swinging around the Casselman River?”

“No clue. Does that matter?”

Chris shrugs, looks away. “Kind of. I’d rather skip the town.”

“Yeah? What’s in Garret?” Rhett closes the back hatch. The dogs have already been loaded up, and WooFDriver is putting the last of their snacks into the front seat. “An old fling you want to skip?”

Chris just shrugs again. Rather than answer, he says, “the river’s beautiful this time of year. I just think it would make a good stop.”

Rhett is clearly unconvinced. Still, he doesn’t argue. “Right. Well, go pitch it to Bill. I’m good with whatever route he wants.”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author