For a whole year the group of dogs lived in the woods near the building. For a whole year, Buck, Alsatian and Dosi carried the guilt of knowing hundreds of dogs could have died during their absence on their shoulders. They were too scared to do anything. Princess had been captured by the werewolves one night when she was out foraging. Although everyone found her annoying, they all discovered that they missed her.
Buster and Pasha, however, were raising a family. She had only recently had the pups, and they could only be described as cute, squirming lumps of fluff. There were three in all, and Buster, who had settled his differences with Buck and Alsatian, had agreed to let everyone name them.
“The blue one will be Ice” Buck puffed proudly.
“The yellowy one shall be Lightning” Dosi and Alsatian suggested, noting the pups jagged markings.
“The last one should be Flame” Buster and Pasha declared, nuzzling the reddish female that was the only girl within the litter and the smallest. Ice, Lightning and Flame, the three new lives.
It was only two days after the pups came into the world when Alsatian decided it was time to find the missing dogs and battle the werewolves.
But the fact that they now had three vulnerable pups to care fore plagued his mind. Buster, who was fast becoming a mature and sensible dog, had talked to Alsatian over it.
“I know you want to find your family, but we need to wait until the pups are older. It will only take two months or so before they can stay here alone”.
Alsatian, the devastation over the loss of his family and the ageing, had made him look a lot older. At six years old his muzzle was already showing hints of grey.
It was amazing how quickly the joys of parenthood had set in and how well Buster and the other two male shad settled their differences. Although Buck had become fiercely protective of Dosi, he still managed to make a good hunting-partner.
“If I didn’t know you any better Buck, I’d say you like Dosi. Really like Dosi” Buster sneered as he and Buck trotted through the woods in search of prey. They would need plenty of food for their tightly formed pack; not only would Alsatian, Dosi, Buster and Buck want some, but Pasha needed a lot of meat to produce enough milk to sustain her family.
“So, I can secretly like someone, can’t I?” Buck retorted.
“Yeah sure. Maybe she likes you. Just look at me and Pasha; I kidnapped her, nearly killed her, saved her and now we have a family”.
“It doesn’t matter, She probably isn’t bothered about me”.
“Do you know that for certain?”
“Talk to the paw” Buck said, not forgetting his catchphrase.
A few hours later the triumphant pair returned with a couple of limp squirrels and a rabbit two hours later. Buster, eager to see his children, dropped his prey and skidded through the entrance of the den. He nuzzled his mate, Pasha, lovingly behind the ears and proudly observed the wonderful new life.
He unquestioningly helped Pasha to wash them, running his long tongue down their backs, lifting up tufts of fur.
It was a year on and the death of Russell still brought tears to her eyes. Papillion sat in her cage, weeping. This time not for her dead brother, but for her other sibling, Husky. The young male had been taken away to be judged, and she feared he was a werewolf, or dead. Her mother was in a sorry state, refusing to eat and resisting food until the guards forced t down her throat.
It was a few days after her mother was taken away to be cared for by the newly appointed healer when Papillion started talking to a wolfish dog in the cage next to her.
“I’m Jake” he barked.
“I’m Papillion” Papillion muttered shyly.
Once the awkward introductions were over, she and Jake soon got chatty.
“This place is real nasty place, ain’t it, there’s dog crap all over the floor and everyone just pees where they wanna” Papillion could tell by his foul words that he was using the language that teenage humans used when they wanted respect.
“Why do you speak like that?” she asked.
“If you act and speak tough, you get respect so no one will bother you, try it”.
Papillion thought for a moment.
“I ain’t done nothin’, so quit botherin meh!” Papillion attempted.
“That’s very good, maybe you’ll earn some respect” Jake laughed.
Immediately after the conversation was at an end, Jake maintained his proud position and glared threateningly at anyone who dared look at him.
“Why do you need respect?” Papillion queried.
“If you look and act tougher, the freaks that guard us won’t take you, they’ll leave you to toughen up the other dogs, to prepare them for what’s to happen” Jake explained quietly.
“What’s to happen” Papillion asked.
“They take you away and you return as a monster” Jake uttered darkly, the shadows cast across his narrow muzzle adding to the seriousness of the situation.
As time went on, Alsatian became more and more distressed. His furred forehead was permanently wrinkled in a frown and his tail always seemed to be found between his legs. He knew that all of his family could be dead, or worse, and that the decision to fight would bring many more. Many nights would find the middle aged canine sitting alone atop a hill, his tail twitching with annoyance. He was eager to rescue his family, but reluctant to leave the pups , now only two weeks old, on their own.
Buck didn’t seem happy about leaving the pups; it seemed he had grown awfully close to them, Dosi had commented twice on how he would make a good father.
Buster refused to let anyone else make the decisions about his pups. He wanted to fight, but not if that meant endangering his offspring. Buster was so determined to protect Ice, Lightning and Flame Alsatian had started a dispute about his single-mindedness.
“Hundreds of dogs will die if you don’t leave your pups!” Alsatian seethed.
“I will NOT put them in danger!” Buster retaliated, storming off.
Whilst Buster and Alsatian were fighting, Buck, Pasha and Dosi were debating about what to do.
“We need to fight” Buck said.
“We need to find protection for the pups” Pasha protested.
“Why not wait a few months until the pups are more sensible and aware of their surroundings. We can leave them unattended and be confident they will behave” Dosi, the more mature of the dogs, concluded.
The other two dogs considered the option, then, with happy faces, agreed.
“How many weeks until we fight?” Buck asked.
“About another six” Pasha muttered.
“Six, no problem. Me and Alsatian could check it out inside, you know, get the general idea of the place” Buck suggested.
“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m not sure whether Alsatian could handle that. He’s getting older and weaker and the loss of his family is really killing him” Dosi sighed. Alsatian was looking older, and for a purebred Alsatian, his life expectancy was between ten and twelve years. Now nearly seven, Alsatian was facing his mid life crisis. He didn’t look too well either.
“So he can’t fight?” Buck queried worriedly, knowing the truth about his adoptive father.
“No, he may have to stay behind with the pups” Pasha replied, nuzzling the bundles clinging to her stomach.
“Alsatian won’t be happy with this” Buck whispered.
“He’ll just have to deal with it” Dosi grumbled angrily and charged outside.
When Buck finally plucked up the courage to see what was wrong, he too went outside to find her curled up under a bush.
“What’s wrong?” he asked innocently.
“What did we do to deserve this? We were normal strays and now our life has been turned upside down. We haven’t done anything” she whimpered “Tumble should have never died”
“We can all get through this Dosi, you have us” Buck sighed as he put his paw on top of Dosi’s own.
Dosi stared straight into his eyes and fixed her gaze to them, never letting anything distract her. She let Buck nuzzle her and rub up against her, trying to comfort her. They shared the final night of peace they could ever have.