This story is based on what happened to our daughter’s dog, Oliver. I have taken literary license with some of it, but a lot of it really happened. This is illustrated by my grandson, Tristan, who is an aspiring artist. He is also one of the “little buddies” mentioned in the story.
Oliver, a beautiful Golden Retriever, lived at the top of a tall hill with his buddies, the Larsons, his goofy son, Farley and Lily, the mother of Farley. They were a wonderful Golden Retriever family.
It was a wonder life. Eating, sleeping, running after thrown balls, exploring the forest all around. There were head rubs and playing with his little buddies as they rode their bicycles in the driveway or played in their hideout in the woods.
One cold Winter’s day Oliver awoke and went to the door to be let outside. Now Oliver was a roaming dog. At one time he disappeared on one of the coldest nights of the year and didn’t return home until the following morning, no worse for wear. It had worried his buddies greatly. Big buddy had called for him for a long time. He heard him, but the smells of the forest were too enticing.
This particular day he lifted his nose into the air and grew giddy with the wonderful odors that wafted on the breezes. “I must see where all these smells are coming from,” he thought to himself. So off he bounded.
Oliver ran quickly on his four sturdy legs, his tail like a plume, stuck in the air. There was a squirrel smell. The squirrel had not been there for a long while. Move on. There a possum smell. Not much to Oliver’s taste, but playing with a possum as it played dead was great fun.
Then Oliver smelled coyote. These were ones with whom he did not want to cross paths.
Deeper into the forest Oliver ran, nose to the ground. Suddenly, he saw movement. A rabbit! Off Oliver went chasing the rabbit among the trees until the rabbit reached his home in the ground and popped inside. Oliver sniffed around the hole and would have dug around it if the ground had not been frozen solid. “Hmm,” Oliver thought to himself. “I’m hungry, must go home.” But which way was home?
The day was coming to an end. Oliver had been in the forest all day. His buddies would be home fixing supper and doing homework around the kitchen table while the dogs would be eating their final meal of the day and settling down for the night. The sun was lowering in the sky Oliver ran and ran, so full of life and happiness just being alive when suddenly, SNAP! He felt a great pain in his back leg as a coyote trap snapped its ugly jaws around it. He yipped in pain, trying to jerk away from the trap. But the trap was attached to a chain that was wound around a tree. Whoever had set this trap meant to keep his prey right there.
Again and again Oliver pulled and could not get free. Blood gushed from the gruesome wound. The sun went down. It was cold. Oliver was all alone. He whined and moaned. The pain was great, but nobody could hear him or knew where he was. The pain was almost too much to bear.
Oliver had managed to sleep a bit through the night, but the pain and his hunger would not let him sleep very long. He also was beginning to feel a terrible thirst.
All that day he pulled and pulled to try to get away from the trap, but it just held on tighter. The pain was so great. Where were his buddies? All that long day Oliver felt sad and lonely and scared. it was cold and night came again and the forest was quiet all around except for the rustling of the night creatures and the birds who were settling in for the night.
Another long night for Oliver. He had heard an owl hooting in the tree above him. A sad, lonely sound to Oliver. He missed his buddies. He missed his soft bed and the warm house. Most of all he missed his food and a cold drink of water. He spent part of the day trying to pull free, to no avail. He lay panting and feeling very sad.
Snow fell gently on Oliver as he lay with his nose on his forelegs. A tear fell from the corner of his eye. He had been forgotten. He didn’t realize his buddies were looking for him and calling his name into the forest, but Oliver had traveled so far from his home, he could not hear them. He only felt the pain of the trap on his leg. He pulled and pulled on it. His beautiful golden coat had become dirty and stuck through with dead leaves and twigs. Night came. Nobody came to save him.
Oliver felt dizzy and sick. Where was he? Why wasn’t he in his nice, warm bed? Where were his two little buddies who lay on top of him and scratched his ears? He slept and dreamed of playing with Lily and Farley in the yard with his buddies all around. Would he never see them again? Pull on the trap chain again and again, but it remained securely wrapped around the tree. Night time and danger was lurking.
That Night Oliver heard strange noises in the forest. He smelled smells that worried him. He must get free. Pull harder. Lunging and jumping with every bit of strength he had. The chain moved a bit, but still was attached to the tree. He did not want to give up. His buddies were waiting
Oliver was so tired from the last night’s exertions. He felt so helpless. Suddenly a squirrel came close to him and sniffed Oliver. Seeming to know it had nothing to fear from the sad looking dog, the squirrel proceeded to gnaw on a nut it had just dug up from a hole where it had hidden it in the Autumn. Oliver just lay there and watched it listlessly. “I’d bite you in two if I could get to you,” he thought about the cheeky squirrel. It made him angry. “If only,” he thought. Oliver was in that poor, thin, starving dog somewhere. He was so cold, hungry and thirsty. Why was he here? Did no one love him anymore?
A day of rest from pulling on the chain. By this time Oliver had grown use to the pain. His leg was growing numb. If it wasn’t attended to soon, gangrene would set in. Luckily, Oliver knew nothing about gangrene. All he knew was that he wanted the trap off his leg. He wanted out of the forest and into the arms of his buddies. What was that? He heard rustling in the brush. He smelled what he didn’t want to smell. Coyotes were close. But the worst had not yet happened.
To be continued………