May 23, 2017 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Zarro moves as fast as he can. His paws churn up wet mounds of snow. Brambles and thorns catch on the fur of his legs, the curtain of fur that hangs on his under belly. It pulls and tugs, but he thinks, this is nothing compared to that poor deer.

The forest is dark and unyielding. Zarro uses his own scent as a trail back to the tracks and he thinks, again, about how much he hates seeing something so utterly man-made jut through the otherwise pristine forest here.

None of the other dogs have woken up yet. Zarro’s halter still lays on the ground, clip held open by the dirt and grit. It’s easy enough to slip back into the halter, which hangs loosely off his form.

And then – he freezes.

There’s a split second where Zarro has no idea what he’s supposed to do with this. He has no idea how to handle the problem set out before him. WooFDriver will help, surely, but the question remains: how to get him out to the deer?

It takes longer then Zarro would like to admit to come up with an actual plan. He creeps back over to Jet, first, and then Chase and Princess in turn. The rest of the WooFPAK are quickly filled in about the where about’s with the deer and the problems with the trap.

Together, it doesn’t take long before they come up with a plan. One by one, the dogs move closer to the tents that the humans have set up for the night. One by one, they throw their heads back and start to howl.

Owooo! Owooo! Owooo!

They howl, and they howl, and they howl until WooFDriver is sitting up, muttering to himself. They howl until the tent flaps are pushed open, until the pit crew has stepped out into the star lit clearing.

WooFDriver asks, “what’s going on?”

Chris says, “no clue. Dogs are worked up over something. Doesn’t look like anything’s in the camp though. Maybe they just heard something?”

“Rhett suggests, “or they’re just being dogs. Not every sound they make is trying to get a point across. They could just be howling for the sake of howling.”

“That’s not how dogs work,” says WooFDriver. He steps over, pressing a hand against the top of Zarro’s head. “What’s up, Zarro? What do you hear?”

Quick as a snake about to bite, Zarro latches out and grabs the hem of WooFDriver’s jacket in his mouth. He pulls and tugs at the heavy fabric, backing up as he does so.

Follow me, thinks Zarro. Please, please just follow me! It’s not far but it’s really important. It’s more important than anything else we’ve done on this trip and that’s saying something, after catching the sheep, after feeding the wild dog. That’s saying something so please, please just listen and come with me.

WooFDriver, thankfully, has always been a smart sort. He understands things that a lot of humans don’t, especially when dogs and other animals are concerned. And so, it’s no small surprise when he rubs at Zarro’s head again, scratches behind his ears, and says, “okay, buddy. What’s going on with you?”

To Chris and Rhett, WooFDriver says, “unhook the leads. They want to show us something.”

It’s still very late at night. There’s a lot of grumbling from the pit crew. Quick enough, though, they give in. One by one, the leads are unhooked. One by one, the dogs are passed around. WooFDriver holds Zarro’s lead in his hand, and Zarro takes off, quick and eager to lead the humans across the tracks.

A certain level of glee races through him. His paws once more churn up snow. The trees tower above them, massive, gnarled.

Princess asks, “where is the deer at?”

“This way,” insists Zarro. “Not much further from here. It really needs help, guys. I think that WooFDriver’s going to be able to figure something out.”

And that’s it.

There’s no more talking after that.

There’s nothing but the sound of the husky dogs raking in great lungfulls of breath, their flanks heaving, their tails held out erect behind them. The humans are panting, gasping, stumbling over their own feet as they try to keep up with each other.

And there!

There, the forest parts, just a little. There is blood on the snow. It’s old, now, but still sends a chill through Zarro’s spine. “Just over here,” he announces, slowing down a little bit. “They’re just over here. Veran! Veran, it’s just us! I’ve brought help!”

The golden glow cast by the flash light bounces across the snow and the trees. Then, finally, it lands on the prone form of Kilah, and the towering visage of the stag that stands above him.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author