Buck, who at less than one third of Alsatian’s size and weight, was finding it almost impossible to aid his friend in the long climb up the fallen rocks. In the end, the beagle had to let his guardian rest his twisted leg on his back. Twice Alsatian stumble and twice the pair had to take a break, allowing the German shepherd a chance to regain his footing.
The hole that Alsatian had made in the rocks was now clearly visible just a few metres ahead.
“Come on Alsatian we’re there!” Buck encouraged. Buck slid easily through the hole and into the awaiting world beyond, but for Alsatian the whole ordeal was awkward. In the end he kept his sprained leg up against his chest and had to be yanked through by Buck.
Another of the team-mates was facing yet another problem. Pasha had awoken on a small dingy bobbing rhythmically, her head resting on a wet towel. Next to her was the Maltese she had seen cradled in the monsters arm, the one with the red bow in her hair.
She sat up abruptly, remembering the events of the previous day. She had been snatched by some horrific creature in the dead of night and then placed into the boat. Why would the creature try to kill me, and then take care of me? It was a question that could not be answered just minutes after her drowsy awakening. A further examination of the boat showed that there was a supply of food forced under a wooden bench and that there were a few bottles of water stored under some blankets. Another dog was in the boat. It was a Doberman pinscher by the look of it with pointed ears and an undocked tail. It black and brown muzzle and pelt was riddle with pink scars that had been inflicted long before.
It was not an old dog. It had just exceeded its puppy years, so its fur looked too big for its body and it was soft.
“Awake already?” the Doberman questioned.
“Yeah, couldn’t sleep. Where am I? Where is that freaky creature?” Pasha asked with annoyance.
“Gone. Anyway, what sort of breed are you” the dog’s voice was offensive.
“I’m a Jack Russell crossed with a wire fox terrier” Pasha replied. “I’m Manchester Terrier crossed with a Doberman. That means I won’t grow much bigger than you” the dog explained.
“That’s good to know” Pasha commented.
“Do you want something to eat…?” the dog began.
“Pasha” Pasha said “And yes please”.
“I’m Buster, by the way”.
“Nice name” Pasha muttered. Buster stuck his head under the bench and selected a bulky hunk of ham. He slammed it onto the bench by Pasha, awakening the Maltese. She lifted her squashed face in dismay, as if expecting another disfigured dog, when she saw Buster and Pasha; she let out a sigh of relief.
Pasha, ignoring the pet, started tearing at the meat offered to her and wolfed down chunk after chunk, blood covering her muzzle.
When she had finished, Buster and the pet chewed on the carcass for awhile. The pet, who’s name was Princess, ate with good manners, peeling tiny slivers off at a time. Buster didn’t take any meat, he just chewed it.
“Why don’t you swallow your meat instead of play with it?” Pasha scolded gently, as a beach dog she knew how valuable food was.
“I’m not hungry” Buster uttered.
Insignificant salty waves lapped up at the side of the boat. The clouds were beginning to worryingly darken, the clouds were carrying rain and they were almost ready to shower the lands. The waves became bigger and stronger, rocking the boat precariously as it made its way across the sea.
With a yelp of terror coming from Princess, the boat tipped and spilled its contents into the sea. The rain began to fall, lashing at everything it could.
Pasha felt herself being submerged, pushed down by the weight of the boat flipping on top of her.
Her vision went hazy, but she could still see Princess flailing about under the water, struggling to swim but failing. Buster swan below her, coming straight towards her. With a heave he managed to lift her out of the water and put her on the upturned boat. He did the same to Princess; plucking her out of the water and holding on, unable to reach the boat.
“Buster!” Pasha called as Buster dived under the surface once more. He returned with the half-eaten ham and a bottle of sealed water. He floated alongside her and put the meat by her paws.
“Hold it” he ordered. He took the top of the bottle in his jaws and wrapped his paw around Princess, pulling her closer. The traumatized trio managed to crawl on top of the boat and, with their prizes, they huddled together, the shivering Princess in the centre. The ordeal was over so quickly, Pasha began to doubt that Buster was a normal dog.
Both Buck and Alsatian had made their way across the rock covered beach with no further injuries.
They went up the narrow path without difficulty and were unchallenged as they strode though the BDZ.
“We need to find Pasha” Buck decided without doubt.
“How?” Alsatian queried.
“We should check out some more stories in the news” Buck implied firmly.
“Ok” Alsatian agreed “But I doubt a stray dog would be reported missing”.
The team of two hobbled over the border and headed for the Kiosk. They found the newspapers as they usually did lined up on the shelves. Light footed Buck sprang up, snatched a newspaper in his jaws and scampered away, Alsatian following at his slow pace.
No newspaper was safe in the fangs of Buck. By the time the pair reached the beach the paper was torn and ripped until it was almost unreadable.
Luckily, through honing his skills to perfection, Alsatian was able to read the word printed on the thin paper.
Alsatian pressed his paw firmly on the twisted sheets and read through it. He read through again just to make sure he wasn’t seeing things.
“It can’t be” Alsatian whispered, dread in his voice.
“What is it?” Buck questioned. The pair began skimming through the sentences together, trying to see some sense in it.
“I don’t understand it” Buck sighed.
“The Mystery of the missing dogs deepens as more and more of our furry friends are being stolen. Some people think it is simply a rogue beach dog or wolf that is killing the dogs. Others think it is a proper kidnapper who wants a ransom. It is suspected they are being kept at Forbidden Island. The island is off limits and dangerous to the public due to the accident that happened there a half a decade ago. Everything from Chihuahuas to Great Danes and the richest pets to the lowliest beach dogs are being stolen in the dead of night.” Alsatian read.
“Forbidden island!” Buck gasped “We need to go there”.
“We will need some help. Let’s just hope Dosi hasn’t been kidnapped” Alsatian said. Dosi was Pasha’s twin and another key member of the group. She was like Alsatian’s spy; she would sneak around the island looking for information on where the best food was, what the two legs have been up to and that sort of thing. Let’s just hope she’s heard some news about the missing dogs.
Dosi was living away form her group for the time being. She was spying on the humans that went by, to see if there was any talk about getting rid of strays, as Alsatian feared the use of traps and dog catchers may return. She was snoozing in her self-made shelter when the pair found her. She lifted her head sleepily, yawned and familiarized herself with her surroundings.
“Hiya Alsatian” she greeted “Hello Buck”. Buck preferred Dosi to Pasha; Pasha would easily get overexcited about anything and would often take a joke too far. Dosi, on the other hand, was easy going and not as excitable as her sister. The twin sisters shared a lot in common; they both had the same build and wiry coat, the same love of hunting and the same love of chasing things. The only way to distinguish one form the other was by their facial markings; Dosi having a big brown patch across her right eye and Pasha having a half white and half brown face.
“You haven’t seen Pasha by any chance, have you?” Alsatian cut straight to the point.
“No, is she off chasing rats again” another crucial difference; Pasha loved killing rats, Dosi despised the things altogether.
By no means was the wiry haired pup a clean pet, she loved rolling in mud and playing games with Buck and she even enjoyed annoying Alsatian on hot sunny days.
“We can’t find her anywhere. We even went across the border of the BDZ, where we encountered a little trouble” Alsatian explained, lifting his twisted paw.
“Your twisted paw can be fixed, honestly am I the only intelligent one here” Dosi rolled her eyes.
“Pasha has gone” Buck said.
“We can work out that in a minute. Alsatian needs to rest that paw” Dosi insisted sincerely “Want to play?” she added playfully. Alsatian held back a snort of laughter. Although Dosi would try to act the leader in the small group, she was just as playful as her sister and the thought of a game always distracted her from her “duties”.
The injured German shepherd dog settled down on the pre-prepared pillow and a grin spread across his face as he glimpsed his two adoptive children race off into the night.
Two small figures streaked across the undisturbed beach. They both threw their heads up to the sky where the moon reigned and gave a hoot of laughter. They both sprinted across the darkening beach and leapt into the calm water with a colossal Splash.
“Come on!” Buck shouted encouragement as he waded deeper into the ocean.
One of the first things a Beach dog learnt to do was to swim. By the age of 10 weeks, which was about the time they joined Alsatian, Buck, Pasha and Dosi could all swim professionally and safely. Although rather timid around water, Alsatian had been able to strengthen their skills by performing a variety of strokes on land as a demonstration.
Dosi barrelled straight into Buck’s side, sending him tumbling under the surface. He made the most of the peace and tranquillity the sea had to offer, but his lungs were soon gasping for air. He forced himself upwards, kicking his legs and punching his arms in a seal-like fashion.
“You are gonna pay for that” Buck spluttered happily, spitting out foul-tasting water.
“You gotta catch me first!” Dosi shouted as she galloped through the gathering waves.
Their play was ended abruptly by the arrival of a muscular Doberman who had wandered over into Buck’s territory. However, the Doberman did not seem to be a lost stray, but a dog with a purpose.
“I’ve come to take your land, I’ll fight for it” the dog barked suddenly.
“Buck we need to go and find Alsatian” Dosi yipped quietly as the pair stood rooted to the spot as the dog paced towards them.
“He’s injured though” Buck answered.
“Come on, let’s go!” Dosi yapped loudly and sped off in the direction of Alsatian’s box. Injured or not, Alsatian had a job to do. Buck instinctively followed, but the Doberman had sensed their plan and ran after them to block the way.
“If this is your land, you must fight” the Doberman insisted. Buck and Dosi skidded to halt, sending small waves of sand flying into the attacker’s eyes. His temporary blindness offered them a chance of escape. The two young pups pelted off towards the box, which loomed in the distance. Their legs were straining with the effort and their breaths came in pants. It looked as if they were to be caught by the attacker.
By some miracle they managed to reach the box and awaken Alsatian in time to see the Doberman come running angrily after them. Alsatian took a wobbly step in front of his two adopted children and bared his teeth in rage. This Doberman had made a big mistake when he dared to challenge Alsatian. The German shepherd dog stepped forward, lowered himself to the ground and pushed his body upwards, his twisted leg not stopping him. He collided hard wit the Doberman and both were sent flying.
Alsatian took the chance and stood over the fallen dog, holding him down with his back legs.
“I’ll spare your life, but never come here again. Never challenge my children again!” Alsatian spat and let the Doberman go. At first it seemed the defeated dog was ready to have another fight, but he wandered slowly away, his head held low. He had been beaten by an injured dog.
The bottled water and the salty meat had run out almost straight after its retrieval.
The water around the three dying dogs was undrinkable and the few times Pasha had tried to drink it resulted in her being sick.
Princess wasn’t faring as badly as her friends. Her belly was filled with a good chunk of the meat and half the bottle of water.
Buster, on the other paw, was the worst off. It’s his own fault. He didn’t want any food to start with.
Pasha didn’t know what to feel anymore. She was angry that she was in this predicament, but at the same time her heart went out to the mysterious Buster. He was draped across the width of the boat, his ribs and his hips poking through his now-dull coat. His mouth was as dry as a desert and his lips were as cracked as the earth he once walked.
“Pa...asha” Buster attempted.
“What it is?” Pasha replied, exhaustion slowly claiming her.
“We…we are... here. Get Princess…ready” he wheezed.
An unattractive lump of forestry rock appeared in the distance. At a first glance, anyone would mistake it for a floating bush in the distance, but on closer observation, they would find a monstrosity of a building perched on the highest part of the island.
When she saw the island, she didn’t think it looked too bad, but Pasha then heard a deathly howling.
“How do you know we are here? Where are we?” Pasha pointed out, suspicious.
“It’s the only place for miles around. It may as well be our destination” Buster muttered angrily; the exhaustion was affecting both his appearance and his mood.
Another horrifying howl erupted from the island, and that was joined by a chorus of other animals.
Dosi and Buck sized each other up, in the way Alsatian had taught them, and prepared to square off. It was not specialist fighting they were about to perform, but puppy tussling.
Why spend your puppy days acting like a fully grown and boring dog is what Buck had thought to himself a countless number of times. The two puppies charged clumsily at each other and collided in a heap of fur.
Dosi apparently won the round by managing to pin her foe down on the sand for a full five seconds before Buck was able to put up a fight.
“So what’s this about Pasha?” Dosi questioned, suddenly remembering her sisters disappearance.
“Alsatian sent her on a rat hunt. She didn’t come back the entire night. The next day we went looking for her. I had to go down the muddy slope with the water tank to find her. She wasn’t there, but some sort of monster was” Buck panted in his short puppy sentences.
“Honestly, Buck, do you still believe in monsters?” Dosi laughed.
“It was there! It chased me but luckily Alsatian was there to save my skin…” Buck explained.
“Again” Dosi added “You know, me and you really need to stick up for ourselves”.
“We need to find Pasha, without Alsatian’s help”
“Even if we were going to look for the wiry rat hunter, Alsatian can’t come with that bad leg of his” Dosi said as she shook the sand from her pelt.
“We need to prove to him that we can take care of things ourselves” Buck protested. “Alright then, we could try to save Pasha. But chances are we will mess things up and need reusing by Alsatian. We may even die!” Dosi argued.
“What do you think we should do!?” Buck shouted.
“I don’t know why you’re getting angry at me!” Dosi bellowed.
“So you don’t want to find your sister” Buck concluded.
“Off course I do. But I want to go a sensible way about it” Dosi hissed with malice.
“That’s it!” Buck yelled as he barged into Dosi with all of his 4kg of weight. Although he was a lightweight, so was Dosi, that meant Buck managed to knock his team-mate over. With all of the air forced out of her lungs, Dosi didn’t have a chance to recover before Buck sped off into the town.
For what seemed like the hundredth time, Buck raced off as fast as his stocky legs could handle. He passed the local bookshop, the bakery and the supermarket without any obstacles or trouble to overcome.
He hesitated for a second as he scented the tempting smell of cooking bacon at the butchers, but soon continued. He suddenly realised how hungry he was and how delicious the leg of lamb displayed in the butchers window looked as it spun around continually. The starving beagle returned to leg of lamb, desperately trying to think of a way to get in.
He looked around the dark streets and saw, much to his interest a metal rod with string wrapped around it poking out of a plastic bin on the opposite street.
With tremendous effort, the youngster managed to jump up to the tip of the pole, grip it between his teeth and pull it down, string and all.
Using his knowledge of tying knots, Buck managed to tie the rod to his side. It was a difficult job, considering Buck didn’t have opposable thumbs or bendable fingers.
With the metal pole loosely tied around his waist, Buck pawed the ground with determination and prepared to earn his prize.
He brought his head, neck and chest back for extra acceleration and then pushed himself off of the ground with his hind feet. He landed with a clang and thump and then carried on running. As the butcher’s window came to meet him, he launched himself forwards once again and thrust the extending pole into the window. The force was enough to shatter the window completely and also enough to send Buck flying through the now-broken window.
Unfortunately for him, he sailed through the air headfirst, so when he met the floor, the pole met it first. The rope untied itself and, with the added force of the pole hitting the ground, Buck smashed his face against the hard tiles that covered the floor.
“OOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW” he groaned as he rubbed his bleeding nose against his paw. His eyes had become unfocused and there was a ringing in his ears.
He hastily got up and climbed up the counter, then jumped carefully into the selections of meats and pastries available there.
He nuzzled amongst the raw meat, trying to wipe the blood off. As the raw meats were still bleeding, the buyer of the meats wouldn’t be able to tell a lot of the blood was actually dogs blood.
Once his nose had ceased bleeding, Buck sprang over to the spinning leg of lamb and sunk his teeth into it. He ripped chunks out of it and devoured them in a wolf-like fashion and, smacking his lips as he did so, tore the whole leg off of the spinning device.
Buck threw it behind him and was once again scrambling all over it, trying to eat the best tasting meat first.
A very sudden and very loud alarm bell started ringing. It brought back the ringing in his ears and echoed of all the walls and made its way throughout the streets. What a fool I’ve been. Why didn’t I check for alarms? The ringing was soon chorused by a thumping from the upstairs rooms; it was like someone stomping heavily around and coming downstairs.
“Oh dog’s bum!” cursed Buck as he hopelessly searched his surroundings for any possible hiding place. Dog’s bum was simply an inoffensive insult quite a few puppies used during rough and tumble sessions.
The footsteps came nearer and then a large beefy man, obviously the butcher, stumbled into his shop. Buck immediately recognized the man as a local bully to the dogs. He had gotten many strays taken away by the Dog Hunters (dog catchers to you and me) and enjoyed throwing pebbles and small stones at his targets.
The beagle puppy tried to shrink away into the shadows, but the half-asleep butcher had already spotted him.
“A damn dog!” shouted the bully. He stumbled over to his ruined and blood spattered counter, picked up a telephone, dialled a number and started speaking.
“Yes I need the Dog Catcher. I have a stray beagle here who thinks it can ruin my shop. It’s definitely a stray. Nope, no collar” the man droned on “Ok you can come and get it now. That’s good”.
Buck didn’t know too many words in human, but Alsatian was fluent in dog, cat and human languages, so he had been able to teach Buck the basic words. He knew he was in major trouble. He scrambled out of his shadowy hiding place and skittered across the floor. The butcher, although half-asleep, had seen this coming as he had had to deal with lots of dog break-ins in his past.
He lifted his giant bare foot and stood roughly on Buck’s tail. With a yelp of surprise and pain, the pup tried to yank his tail from underneath the man’s foot. Laughing at his struggles, the butcher leant over and grasped Buck’s scruff in his sausage-like fingers.
Buck knew there was no point struggling; he knew he was doomed.