Short Stories

The choice

I got lost.

It’s easy to see, they had said, but it wasn’t.

A track leading into a forest. It’s angle steep and leaving me wondering if the car would make it. I was instantly glad I’d decided to bring the four by four. The track was covered in ruts and grass grew down the middle. As I turned down there and gunned the engine I wondered at my own decision. I could back out and leave. Phone them and say I couldn’t find their turning. So sorry.

But there was this niggle in the back of my head. This had been the only ones I could afford. There was no choice other than wait. Something I was prepared to do, but Charlie wasn’t.

The track got worse before it got better. The car lurched from rut to rut and I could hear the grass and twigs hit the underside. Despite the chill in the air I cracked the window open and turned off the radio, so I could hear if the ruts got too bad and the undercarriage hit. Just as I was wondering if it would be easier to roll back down the road it opened into a yard.

Everything was moss covered and tired looking. There were stables and what must have been a chicken run at one time but looked like it was about to fall down. I turned the car around in the yard and got out. There was no noise.

The yard led to two paths, one leading into a small coppice and the other went uphill. And there, above the yard, sat a farmhouse. It was a traditional stone and slate farmhouse but I could tell immediately that these people didn’t have a mass of money. The whole area had an air of disuse.

I girl came out of the house. I mean she was a woman, but gave the air of being very young.

“Kate?” she asked.

I nodded.

“They are in the stable,” and she led the way. Stopping just before she opened the stable door. “Are you looking for a working dog?”

“No. Just a pet.”

She nodded and opened the door. The stable was more of a loose box and the floor was covered in a deep bed of straw. In amongst this were a heap of back and brown shapes.

“They are Huntaways?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“They seem bigger…” I said. And they were. About a foot tall these little pups seemed very large for eight weeks..

“They are ten weeks.”

“The ad said eight.”

“I must have made a mistake.” She hadn’t. The pup I brought home that day grew to German Shepherd size. In fact, as she is only eight months and hasn’t stopped yet.

“Are they full Huntaway?”

“No,” she said. “A Kelpie Huntaway cross.”

During the conversation the dogs were playing and tugging at my trouser leg. You may think I was being callous by not immediately picking one but I was looking for something…

“That one,” the girl said pointing to an almost black female. “She has a quiet temperament.”

She did. As one of her brothers tried to eat my shoes she just sat and watched. Going over I picked up the pup. She wagged.

“She is pretty,” she said. And she was, with classical doberman markings.

I popped her down and watched them for a while. “They make good house pets?”

“Yes.”

Of course I knew that was a little lax with the truth. I’d done my research. Huntaways were prone to barking, but as I live on an isolated smallholding it wasn’t a bother. In fact, it might help with the foxes.

“Okay, I’ll take…”

But that was as far as I got because I was interrupted. I small dog was sitting next to me. Just looking up.

“Who’s this?”

“Oh, that’s a girl too.”

The pup was more brown looking but still classic doberman colours. I picked her up. She was underweight. The runt and on her paw was a mark.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Not sure. She’s always had it.”

I said nothing but popped the pup back down. My last dog had been ill all her life and I had decided I could have any dog as long as it was perfect. I couldn’t take the heart ache of another sickly one.

The pup sat back down in the same place and looked at me.

I wanted a perfect dog.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “What will happen to the pups?”

“They are going to auction.” Came the answer.

I looked at the black girl who was biting another pups ear and then down at the one at my feet. She was ignoring everything but me.

I sighed. “I’ll take the one with the mark on her paw.”

And that was it. Meg chose me. I don’t know what happened to her brothers and sisters but she is fine. She was underweight and the mark on her paw is a burn. The hair still doesn’t cover it. And no I don’t know what did it or how she got it.

What I can say is that she is a dream dog. She is currently training as an agility dog and the only thing holding her back is me. I am not graceful or fast. The trainer is forever asking me to flow and speed up. But we make a great team.

She is with me always. Even now as  I type she is lying next to me chewing on a bone. The other day we were exploring the bluebell wood near Strata Florida and I let her off the lead. Mainly because the terrain was rocky and I needed both hands (my balance isn’t good). She stayed at my side. Even when a local started shooting she didn’t budge. Once I almost lost my balance and I put my hand down, only to have it connect with her back.

Really there is little more I could ask of her.

IMG_20131111_121536
Meg’s first week.
Meg asking me if I want a cup of tea, and while I’m at it could she have a biscuit.

This story was inspired by the Daily Prompt – First Sight.

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