The Long Way Home...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Aidens best friend, his beloved companian Dakota, is dognapped it feels like the end of the world. Read how a brave little Pomeranian beats the odds.

Submitted: September 10, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 10, 2012



alt The Long Way Home: Dakota's story...

Hearing the jingle of the leash, Dakota hopped up happily, knowing that he would be going somewhere with Aiden, his owner, friend, and companion. Yipping and jumping happily with joy, he ran into the foyer where Aiden was waiting to clip the leash onto his collar. "Ready boy?" Aiden asked. "How about a nice ride in the car today?" Not knowing or caring much what was being said, as long as it was said to him, Dakota wiggled and whined in barely contained happiness. As long as he was with Aiden, he could care less where they went.

altLooking up with love, he pranced prettily out the door with his owner, and out to the car. "Up you go!" Aiden prompted, and Dakota, with one agile leap, was in the front seat ready for anything. Aiden looked at his companian, his best friend, and laughed at Dakota's enthusiasm. He got this little ball of fluff quite by accident. His first choice of a dog was definitely not a little dainty Pom, and he took quite a ribbing from his buddies about his 'sissy' dog. Dakota was actually 'rescued' from a digusting backyard breeder who bred his 10 yr. old female back to back. Litter after litter this poor thing endured, and the dirty play pen the pups were born in was a cesspool of puppy urine and feces, fleas and stench. Dakota was the only one left in the filthy pen. When Aiden looked at the bedraggled ball of matted, wet fur and into those watery, brown eyes, he was lost. The pup looked miserable, lethargic, and hopeless. Aiden picked up the trembling little thing and gently rubbed around his ears, eliciting a whine of pleasure from the tiny dog. "How much Joe?" he asked the owner, a stocky, toothless, shoe repair guy, looking at him in barely disguised disgust.. "For you buddy?" (Aiden cringed at the thought of being this mans 'buddy') "six hunnert bucks".

"Are you kidding me man?" he asked incredulously. "this pup doesn't have shots, papers, nothing!"

"Take it or leave it, pal, got someone comin' over later who'll gladly gimme it" Joe said around the cigarette dangling from his fat lips."Gotta pay my taxes on this dump somehow". Having just cashed his check from his work, he reluctantly peeled off 4 fifties and4 one hundred dollar bills. He looked at the puppy cradled happily in his arms. "You better be worth it, my friend.." The pup whined as if in total agreement.

And that's how he came to be in the company of this beautiful, long haired Pom. He looked at Dakota, admiring the dogs stunning coat. White and tan, Dakota looked a picture of canine health. Bright, shining eyes, white little teeth geaming sharply and a coat of the softest, thickest fur you ever saw. He only weight 8 lbs soaking wet. His fur, so thick, made him look twice the size he really was. He was a loyal, happy little dog, always ready to play. Aiden had a permanent shadow now, and Dakota was horribly spoiled.

alt Aiden pulled out of the driveway, and drove to the Main st. convenience store for gas and his numbers. "Stay and guard the fort, Fuzz Butt", he told the dog. Dakota whined anxiously, hating to be left alone. While Aiden was in the store, Dakota looked nervously out of the partly rolled down window, and noticed that a strange man was quickly making his way towards the car. He barked a warning, and when the man kept coming, Dakota scratched frantically at the window, growling and yipping. The man, opened the car door, and yanked Dakota out by the scruff of his neck, eliciting a sharp yelp from the terrified little dog. A foul smelling rag was placed over his sensitive nose, and suddenly, it was lights out. The man and limp dog disappeared around the corner...

Aiden strolled out of the store and the first thing he noticed, was that it was silent. Dakota usually barked excitedly from the moment he came out of a store door, to the moment he entered the car. Something was wrong. He picked up his pace and in a panic, looked inside. No Dakota. Not on the floor, not in the back seat, or under his coat.. His dog was gone. A woman getting gas noticed Aidens panicked state and came over. "Is everything alright, sir?" she asked. He spun around to face her, his face white as a ghost. "My dog. My dog is gone". He looked under the car, and ran around the outside of the store calling Dakota's name. Pulling out his cell phone, he dialed 911..

altHe then called his girlfriend, Ellie, a Vet who had her own practice right out of her home, and she came right away. Her face blanched as she listened and calmly tried to console her grieving boyfriend. "Oh my God, Aiden", she said softly. 'it's all right, hon, it's okay, we'll get Fuzz Butt home, don't you worry." The two of them waited for the police to come, each deep in their own thoughts. They just had to get Dakota back, Aiden would never rest until his little fuzz-butt was safely home.

altThe Long Way Home- Dakota's Story- Part 2

Dakota opened his eyes, feeling immediately sick to to his stomach from the chloroform. His head spun sickeningly as he struggled to stand, only to find himself stuffed into a small, 3x3 wire cage. He whined despondantly. He shook his head to clear the fog, and licked his nose with his dry tongue trying to wet it and get a better sniff around. He heard, before he smelled, other dogs, and lots of them. Dogs barking with fear, pain and confusion. He smelled fear in their urine over the stench of feces and blood. If there was a dog hell, this was it. Now that Dakota's eyes had adjusted to the light, he could see more of his surroundings. And he didn't like what he saw. Rows and rows of cages filled dogs. All different breeds of Toy dogs. Shih Tzu's and Chihuahua's, Pomeranians and Pugs. Pappilions and Yorkies. Closest to his cage was a shivering Havenese and on the other side, another Pomeranian like him. He sniffed the interiors of his wire prison, biting the wire with his teeth. Nothing gave. He looked up, nothing there to work with. He couldn't dig, because even the floor beneath him had wire. He sat, and listened, and thought of cookies and balls but most of all, he thought of Aiden. Just when the crescendo of barking dogs reached it's highest pitch, a door slammed open against the wall. "Shut up, you mangy mutts!!" a gruff angry voice yelled out. "Shut yer traps before I get the hoses!! " At that, all barking whining and growling stopped. Dakota could feel a spike in the fear level as all the dogs fell quite. His tail, usually held in a proud plume over his back, tucked tight between his legs. He crouched in the corner of the cage, making himself as small as possible. It was a big man, with huge hands and sausagelike fingers. As big around as he was tall, he filled the doorway with his presence and the dogs shivered with fright and mistrust.


The door opened again to let in another man, this one smaller and weasly looking. "Where's the new batch?" he asked the larger man. "The boss wants to know if you were able to get the Pomeranian she wanted". "Yeah," the other man anwered. "It's down there on the right, and leave him alone, she don't want him damaged. The last one was pretty bad, thanks to you."

Jake, the weasly looking one, walked down to Dakota's cage and peered in. "Hey mutt, the boss is gonna love you". Dakota bared his sharp little teeth in reply, getting his tail yanked hard for it. He yelped in pain and fear. "Hey!" yelled the other man, "what did I freakin' tell you?"

"Aww, shut up, Manny, I wern't done nuttin'. This little shit thinks he's a tough guy is all."

Manny, a cigar hanging out of mouth, walked over to where Jake was teasing Dakota and looked inside of the cage. The dog was a beauty, alright, and the Boss was going to happy for a change. She wanted the dog for her granddaughter, 10 yr. old Sabrina, a spoiled little brat who got everything she wanted. The rest of the mutts would be sold to laboratories and underground furriers. He nudged Jake with his foot, "Come on, lets go get some grub, dognapping makes me hungry." The men left, and the dogs visibly relaxed.

Sabrina waited until she heard the mens truck leave before she snuck inside to where the dogs were being kept. She had heard her granny talking last night and knew that there was a Pomeranian just for her. Her friend, Megan, had gotten one for her birthday, and envious, Sabrina asked her grammy for the same dog, but prettier.. She peeked in, making sure that none of the other workers were present, and satisfied, she made her way down the rows of cages, checking for that light orange and cream color she asked for..."ahh, there you are." she said as she spotted Dakota. Sabrina held out her hand to the little dog, but Dakota wanted nothing to do with it. He shrunk back against the far side of the cage, lifting his lips in warning. "Now don't be scared, little one, I won't hurt you." she cooed. "come here pretty doggy, come on...". She unlatched the cage door, and reached inside....Dakota, seeing that door open, was instantly alert. As Sabrina's hand got closer, he was ready.


Lunging, he gave her outstretched hand a good nip, and as she fell backscreeching in pain, and Dakota made his move. Lunging out of the cage, he leaped over her legs, and ran towards the smell of fresh air. "Come back here!!" Sabrina shouted in frustration."Come back here right this minute!". She got up and ran after him, knowing if she didn't get him back, she'd catch it from her grandmother but good. Her grandmother did not tolerate insubordinance very well, and the perpetrator was usually severly punished. Her heart sunk when she saw the cream colored tail disappear out of the door she'd left open..

Aiden was exhausted. Mentally and emotionally. After giving the cops his info over and over, making statements, and signing papers, he just wanted to sit down andplan his next move. He knew that the Police Dept. wouldn't use much effort to find Dakota. They were overloaded now as it was with the recent string of robberies in town and the election coming up. A lost Pomeranian was definitely not at the top of the to-do list. Ellie shook the last policemans hand and turned to him. "Aw, hon, don't worry, We'll get the little guy back. He'll come back home to us." In her heart, though, she really wasn't sure. She knew that somehow she had to help Aiden find his dog. It was odd seeing him without the smiling Pom by side. She thought back to the day she met Aiden. He had come in to the animal clinic with this pathetic little ball of fuzz, a nervous wreck. The poor thing looked far too young to be away from mom, and not in the best of shape. Fur matted, smelling like urine, he set the pup on the table and said," I don't care how much it costs, do what you have to do to get this pup well again.


He looked and acted as if he were it's mother, and she had to smile at his obvious love and concern for the little baby. Gently, with loving care, Ellie gave the pup a good exam. Checking it's vitals, looking for a nice pink mouth, and clear, bright eyes. Not only was it dehydrated, it was severly malnourished. Worms were taking any nourishment the pup was ingesting. Fleas found their home all over the pup, and it scratched and whined in irritation . Her hands were loving and gentle as she turned the pup around to give him some shots. So adept was she at her profession, the dog didn't even whimper as the needle went in the scruff at the back of it's neck. She gently massaged the medicine in and gave the pup a quick kiss on its smelly muzzle. "There you go, little fella. All better. One you have a bath and a brush, you'll be good as new!"


Aiden thanked her gratefully and couldn't help but notice how pretty she was. Her eyes, especially, were a deep golden color, and very unusual. Framed with long, dark lashes, her eyes were mesmorizing. Her hair was beautiful. It was the color of sable in shadows and fell down her back in a silken sheen of dark satin. He wanted to pludge his hands its deep, rich color. She had a light spray of freckles across her nose and upper cheeks, and it somehow made her look childlike and fragile. Her body, tanned and athletic from years of working with farm animals, looked like it would be lovely in a little black dress...She looked up, catching his study of her, and at least he had the good grace to blush. Flustered at the awkwardness of the situation, she looked back at the pup, grateful for the distraction. "Umm, would like to have dinner with us tonight?" he stammered.

Ellie got a good look at Aiden and liked what she saw. Just the fact that he was so attached to the little ragamuffin pup was attractive enough. He wasn't movie star handsome, like Brad Pitt, or Johnny Dep, but more cowboy handsome, with a rugged, tanned face, and wide, strong shoulders. His eyes were to die for, deep green with an unusual black outline around the iris. When he smiled, a dimple flashed in his right cheek, giving him a childlike quality. I could definitely get into this guy, she thought to herself..

"Tonight? Well, I get off at 6, is that too late?" she answered. She was done with the pup, and handed him gently back to Aidens waiting arms. "All fixed up and ready to go home!" she told him..He took the pup gratefully, "Thank you so much, first thing this little guys getting is a nice warm bath! I'll be by at 6, is that ok?" he asked her. "I'll be waiting". she answered with a smile..

And that's how their relationship started. He didn't know how he would get through this if Ellie wasn't there to talk to and comfort him...He had to get Dakota back, he just had too! Ellie also had a lot of connections with the community and law enforment concerning certain individuals who were notorious for abusing, selling and torturing animals. Outside of the city, there was one place in particular that they have been trying to shut down for months now. On the outside, it was a normal animal shelter, but there had been rumors that they did a dirty business. Selling to labs that tested on animals, puppy mills and even to the Asians for coats and food. It was just a matter of catching them. It was a family run business, and the family, the Campbell clan, wern't exactely pillars of the community. The two brothers, Jake and Manny, were in and out of jail from the time they were teenagers, and Manny, the oldest, was also the town drunk.

Their mother, the brains of the family, was known for her unscrupulous schemes and scams. Public humiliation of her two children as they were growing up had turned them into a cowering, mistrustful lot, and more often then not were seen sporting black eyes or swollen, bloody lips. It was even rumored that her missing husband was buried somewhere on their property, dead by a well placed bullet in the head. No proof had ever been found, and careful questioning had turned up nothing from the closed mouthed clan.To this very day her missing husband remained a cold case. But for sure, a visit to the Cambells was in order.


Dakota ran as fast as his little Pomeranian legs could carry him through that open door and away from the mean tempered girl. But when he ran through, he ran smack into the waiting arms of Manny Cambell and a strange man. "Whoa!!! Where do you think YOUR going!! Gotcha!" Manny snatched Dakota up by the scruff of his neck making him yelp with shock and pain.

"Careful! That's my dog now, pal, and for $850.00 there better not be a bruise on him", the strange man said to Manny. Manny, giving Dakota an extra pinch for his trouble, handed the little dog over to the man. "Here! And good riddance! Remember, NO REFUNDS!" He made this sale against the orders of his mother, and dreaded her reaction. Screw Sabrina, he just made some good money for the that little mutt.

The man, with Dakota in his arms, gave Manny a dirty look and put the frightened dog in his car. He drove a long way to get this dog, and he wanted to head back to Buffalo, NY as soon as possible. Looking at Dakota's coloring and structure, he knew this little guy was going to make him some pretty little pups to sell for big bucks. He had made counterfiet AKC papers with names of the parents and everything. Poms with papers meant a big fat dollar sign. Before putting the car in drive, he reached over to pet the shaking animal, and Dakota's sharp little teeth clamped on to his hand. "You little son of a, you damn, why I'm gonna KILL you!!" he yelled, and threw the poor dog in the back seat where he huddled down on the floor panting in fear..Dakota thought of another man with gentle touch and soothing voice, and he whined with longing..


Ellie and Aiden, after discussing where to start to their search, decided to check out the Campbell place. Located on the outskirts of town, down a bumpy dirt road, the Campbell residence was nothing short of a junk yard. A locked gate blocked their way with a large sign reading "NO TRESPASSING- violaters will be SHOT!". Ellie looked at Aiden, suddenly unsure if they should continue. "Maybe we should let the police search the place, Aiden, I'm not too sure about this."

"Ellie, you the police are going to say that there's not enough evidence to search the place. This is up to us. If I find out that they have little Dakota, I swear to God, their going to need more then a gun to stop me from hurting someone.." Parking the car, the two of them went up to the gate. "Let's go around and see if there's a place where we can go over this fence", Aiden said. He didn't tell Ellie he had his pistol. He knew how she felt about guns. But better safe then sorry, especially with this motley crew's reputation.

Quietly, the two of them walked around the perimiter of the fence, trying to find the easiest way in. Then they both saw it at the same time. Up against the fence was an old dilapitated shed. Perfect for climbing up and over. Aiden tested it first, and decided it would hold their weight as they went over the fence. Thank God there was no razor wire, or they would never get in. He grabbed Ellies hand, and pulled her up after him, and the two of them made it safely to the other side. As they crept forward, stepping over old bald tires, twisted hunks of metal and old car parts, a sound to the right of them made them stop dead in their tracks. Ellie squeezed Aidens hand in fear.

A low rumbling growl came from what sounded like a very big dog. "Turn around very slowly, Aiden," Ellie said. They both turned expecting to see a Pitbull, or a Rottweiler, but to Ellies surprise, there behind them was a bedraggled looking Golden Retriever. Ellie, knowing her breeds, knew that Goldens were normally one of the most people orientated breeds out there. Loyal and gentle, the Golden Retreiver was definitely not made to be a guard dog, and it saddened Ellie to see that this one was so neglected as to not know how to reacte among people. Talking softly and soothingly, she reached into her pocket for the snack she had in there meant for Dakota, his favorite, Beggin Strips. A bacon flavored rawhide chewy. "Hey there, fella, it's ok, your a good boy, good dog," she said to the growling Golden. Look what Ellie has for you, that's right, boy, take a good whiff." The Golden, it's attention now focused on that wonderful smelling object in the womans hand, stopped growling.

altEars pricked up, tail starting to wag, the Golden Retreiver inched forward, eyes on the treat. "Go ahead, boy, it's alright, we won't hurt you. Come on, come and get it", Ellie coaxed. The Golden, reached out and took the offered treat gently in his teeth, and practically inhaled it. She looked at Aiden in triumph, and got another treat out of her pocket. The Golden, forgetting his guard duty, gave her a bonified Golden smile, and huffed at her impatiently, waiting for the next chewy. "I think you made a friend, Ell". Aiden told her. Unafraid now, Ellie gave the dog a loving scratch around it's dirty ears, and the dog, only used to kicks and objects thrown at it, leaned into Ellies legs and closed his eyes. "Not a mean bone in your body, huh boy," she said to him.

The two of them, and now the dog, moved forward towards the old barn. Aiden, stopped and motioned for Ellie to listen. Sure enough, she heard the sounds of barking and whining. Dogs, and from the sound of it, lots of them. "I think we came to the right place, don't you?' she asked Aiden. The barn itself was weathered and aging, with a peculiar leaning to the left that had one questioning its ability to remain stable. The windows, dirty and dusty from years of neglect, refused to reveal whatever secrets lay inside. They had to go to the door. Creeping forward, with the Golden now a part of the operation, they listened for any sounds besides the dogs barking. Voices, in particular. But nothing could be heard. Aiden tried the door, and found it unlocked. "Yes! So far, so good, now quietly..."

"Are ya lookin' fer something Mister?" a young girls voice made then jump in surprise. Turning around, Ellie and Aiden came face to face with Sabrina. She stood with her arms folded smartly across her chest, a smirk on her face. "Well, well, and who do we have here? Duke!" she made a move to grab the Retreiver, whom, out of habit, dodged out of the way. "You bad dog! Your supposed to BITE intruders, idiot, not make friends with them you worthless mutt!" The retriever growled at Sabrina, and again pressed into Ellies legs for comfort.

"We're looking for a dog, a Pomeranian." Aiden explained. "We were told that you had dogs here, and we thought that maybe my dog was here."

Sabrina laughed, "Oh are you now? Gee, that's too bad, Mister, 'cause we just sold a beauty not too long ago. Some man from outta town. Guess your outta luck!" Aiden wanted to wipe that smirk right off the nasty natured girl with his fist, but kept his cool. He needed to get as much info as he could out of this loser. "How long ago? Where did he take Dakota?"

"Dakota? That was his name? He was supposed to be MY dog, but my stupid uncle sold him.."

Aiden, at this point, was ready to throttle the smart mouthed girl, but Ellie squeezed his hand as a warning to calm down. She knew that the minute this girl suspected any hostility aimed at her, the situation could ugly. "What's your name, hon?" she asked her. "We don't want to cause any trouble or have to call the police to come out here. All we want is the little Pomeranian."

Sabrina looked at Ellie and saw everything that she wanted to be. Pretty, smart, a hot looking guy like Aiden for a boyfriend. A surge of jealousy welled up within her. This woman had some nerve breaking in here making demands. Just who did she think she was, anyway?

"Listen, lady, I don't have your stupid dog. He's gone. Sold. Unless you want to deal with my uncle Manny, and trust me, you DON"T want to deal with him, I suggest you leave NOW."

Aiden, patience at an end, started forward ready to do some damage. "Aiden! No! Not here! " Ellie stopped him. "We have a lead so let's just leave and follow it." Turning to Sabrina, she asked, "Can you at least tell us where this man was heading with Dakota?" Sabrina, after seeing murder in the eyes of Dakota's owner, decided to tell them the truth. " I thought I heard him say he lived in Buffalo, NY."

At that, Aiden groaned. "Buffalo? Omg, Ellie, how are we ever going to find him?"

Ellie thought the same thing..Like looking for a needle in a haystack. "Come on Aiden, let's go home."


The Long Way Home-Chapter 3


Dakota lay panting in the back seat, bruised and thirsty. They had been driving now for about 4 hours, no stops, and he was needing some attention. When at last the car finally stopped, Dakota sat up and yipped for the man to take him outside.

"What's a matter, gotta go to the bathroom little guy?" the man asked. "Alright, but no funny business. Do what you gotta do and back in the car, got it?" He hooked the leash he brought with him to Dakota's collar, and walked him over to a small patch of grass at the gas station he had pulled into. After peeing for what seemed like ages, Dakota did his little back kicks on the grass that all little dogs seem to do, and tried to do a little sniffing around. He pointed his nose up in air to get a sense of where he was. Nothing here smelled familiar. His little tummy rumbled and grumbled in protest at the lack of food, something he was definitely not used to. He watched the man for a bit, who seemed preoccupied and nervous. "Come on, now, we're almost home. I can't wait for Ginny to see you! You bite her, and your dead, mutt!" the man said menacingly to Dakota.

altTossed back into the car, Dakota sat in the front this time. He felt an urgency coming from the man, and he whined in anticipation. He knew that this journy would be coming to an end shortly, andinstinct told him hewas VERY far from home. The man took out his cell phone and spoke. "Yes, I have him. Yes, he's everything we wanted, but he's very nervous and nippy. I'm about 5 minutes from home, dear, so get the kennel prepared". The man looked at Dakota and put the car in drive. "Almost home, buddy, so you better be nice. The missus doesn't like nippy dogs, so better mind your manners or you'll be sorry!", he told the nervous dog.

Pulling into a long driveway lined with sycamore trees, the man pulled up in front of a small, cottage like house. Run down and neglected, the house was just a memory of what it used to be. Shutters missing upstairs and down, weeds over taking the garden, and peeling paint, all spoke of the couples neglect since taking the place over last year. A woman, 40ish, large, and as unkept as the house, stood waiting in the doorway impatiently. "Finally!! I thought you'd never get here, John!! Now where is my puppy!!" She came down the steps and peered into the car, sqealing loudly when she saw Dakota. "Oh MY God!!! Oh, look at him! Come to mama, baby!" Dakota, mortified at this huge, loud, domineering woman, bared his teeth at her and snarled. "OH! John! He's growling me! Why is he growling me?" John, who learned early in the beginning of their marriage, bit his tongue. "Maybe he's not used to someone soooo, ummm." At a quick glance from her, he added," beautiful..". pacified, she turned her attenion back to Dalota. "Come here you little precious, come to mama you little angel!"

But Dakota, sensing something insincere in the womans tone, tried to make himself as small as possible in the back seat. "John, DO something, will you? Don't just stand there like a blithering idiot, GET HIM!".

John, obedient as ever to his domineering wife, reached in and roughly grabbed the trembling dog by the scruff of his neck. Dakota wasn't used to such rude handling and in his fright, sunk his little teeth into the meaty part of Johns palm. Howling with pain and anger, John swiftly cuffed the little dog in the head. Dakota had had enough. He howled his misery to the world. Acting quickly, he leaped into action, and scrambled out the door and through Johns legs. "Get back here you little mutt!" John yelled at the retreating dog.

"You stupid idiot! You moron!" his wife screamed at him, "Can't you do anything right? GO GET HIM!"

Holding his bitten hand, John looked at his wife. 20 years of verbal abuse, he thought. She wasn't only ugly on the outside, she was ugly on the inside, too. To be honest, he kind of felt like the poor dog would be better off. Run, little dog, he silently cheered, feeling strangely envious.

"You know what, Ginny? If you want that dog so bad then YOU go after it! I'm through!" Ginny, not used to being talked back to by the spineless idiot, stared in open mouthed shock at his retreating back..

Dakota ran as fast as his little Pomeranian legs could carry him. Instinct led him down the Sycamore lane, and out onto the main road in the direction he felt would lead him back to Aiden. Head down and determined, he trotted purposefully and loyally back to the one person that trusted. The man with the gentle touch and soothing voice. And the girl, his mate, with her tinkling laughter and belly rubs that sent him into oblivion. Back to the house with his teddy and his bed. Back to the place that was safe and full of love. Back home....

The Long Way Home- Dakota's Story- Chapter 4


Ellie and Aiden packed up the SUV and after Googling directions to Buffalo, NY., they hit the road. 427 miles. It would take them 7 hours and 29 minutes to reach their destination, and when they got there, then what? How do you find a tiny Pomeranian in a city with a population of 19,465,197, how would they ever find the little guy? She knew that the chances of finding him were about 1 in 19 million, but for Aidens peace of mind, they just had to try. Turning onto I_90, Ellie thought about Aidens relationship with his dog. It would tear that man apart if he couldn't find the little ragamuffin. Never had she seen such a bond between a man and his dog. God? She prayed...If ever there was a time to perform a miracle, this is it! She loved this man beside her and hated seeing him so distraught. She looked at the road ahead, wondering if he would ever see Dakota again.

Dakota's tired feet led down the city streets, thirsty, hot and sore from being handled so roughly. Right now his thirst was overpowering. He had to find some water. Lifting his nose in the air, he detected some nearby. His nose led him to the backyard of a private residence. He looked about cautiously, not wanted anyone to see, and found the source of water. There, near the back door, a water dish for a dog. His need for water overcame his fear of discovery and he hurried over. The dish was full and as he drank, the cold, sweet water soothed his burning throat as it went down to fill his belly with a cold feeling he found delicious. The owner of the bowl barked furiously, hearing the intruder outside. Dakota, knowing the other dog was not able to get him, contiued to drink until his thirst was finally sated. It was getting darker out. The setting sun cast long shadows on the pavement making the city look like a world of giants. He gave the bowl one last slurp, and trotted off, rejuvenated, back through the gate,his nose pointing east.The way that home was.

altDakota had walked for hours. He was getting tired. He was out of the city walking east, on a highway surrounded with woods. He had passed many small towns and his paws were sore. He wanted nothing better then to curl up in a tight little ball and fall asleep. Whining, he looked around him for a spot a to sleep. A short distance away, he spotted a small barn and with his little feet burning from the hot pavement, he crossed the small field and headed for it. Little did Dakota know, he was being watched. A coyote picked up his scent, and out of sheer curiosity, it had to investigate. Coyotes were a common sight now, with it's territory dwindling and food sources getting more scarce, it became bolder. Moving into a city and raiding trash cans, or grabbing an unfortunate family pet when it could, they had become quite commonplace. Opportunist hunters, a lone Pomeranian would make a tasty meal for the coyote. This particular hunter was especially determined to have Dakota for it's next meal. She had a litter of pups to feed. Moving silently and stealthy, she moved in closer, watching the little dog make it's way across the field. Licking her lips in anticipation of food, she started trotting closer, not wanting her meal to get away.

Dakota heard something.. A twig snapped behind him, making him spin around in fright. He smelled her before he saw her, a rich, gamey smell, full of danger. His fur stood on end as caught movement to his right. There, coming around the little barn, a dog, but not a dog. Something much worse then a dog, he knew. Baring his little teeth in a snarl, he stood his ground, knowing instinctively that if he ran, he was dead. the coyote, moved forward slowly, not expecting to be stood up to, she sized up her prey. Her lips pulled back exposing long, sharp canines ready to tear the little to pieces. Dakota dug his back claws in the ground, kicking back clumps of dirt in a show of defiance, and his growling changed to a high pitch barking. Undeterred, the coyote continued to advance, looking for an opportunity to make her move.

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If she got a hold of the little dog, he wouldn't stand a chance against the larger animal. Suddenly, just when the hungry coyote was ready to bolt forward and grab Dakota by his neck, a shot rang out. Whirling in midair, the female just missed being hit by a bullit. She yipped in fear and bolted for woods to the right of the little barn, her tail between her legs. The source of the shot was a hunter out looking for this very animal after getting reports from people in the surrounding area complaining of dead chickens and missing pets. He had been watching the stand off between the two animals, amazed at the fearlessness of the little Pomeranian. But he knew that it was no match for a hungry coyote. His Yellow Labrador, Jack, walked along side of him. Jack, trained to obey the old hunter, hadn't made a sound to warn the coyote of their presence, got a jerky treat for his good behavior.

"Good boy, Jack, now lets go see where this little dog belongs." he told the happy Lab.

Dakota, seeing the man and dog approach, growled mistrustfully. He trotted a little ways off, looking back over his shoulder.

"Come on, little fellow, " the man said in a soothing voice, "We're not going to hurt you." He pulled more jerky out of his knapsack, holding it out to the scared little Pom in as peace offering.

Dakota, hearing the sincerity in the mans voice and smelling the food, whined uncertainly, not knowing what he should do. Hunger overcame his suspicion. Trembling with fear, tail low, he crept forward, eyes constantly looking at both man and dog. "That's a good boy, come on, I won't hurt you and neither will ole Jack, here." the man said soft and low. Dakota's tail rose a little higher, wagging softly at the mans soft words. He wanted that food in the worst way. Still a little frightened, he looked up at he man offering this delicious smelling treat and finally made up his mind. He belly crawled up the hand and the food, and gently took it out of his hand. He ate it quickly, and seeing that nothing bad happened when he did, he whined beeseechingly for more. The Lab, curious at the how small this dog was, came in for a sniff. Martin, the mans name, saw the shape the dog was in. He'd been traveling, he could see, and wondered how far he'd come.

"Where ya from, little guy?" he asked the dog. He let Dakota sniff his hand, then ever so gently, he scratched his soft little head. Dakota closed his eyes in pleasure. The mans hand reminded of another gentle hand, one that he was desperate to get to. He whined then, and licked the mans hand as if to say thank you for not hurting me.
"Poor thing, we got to find out where you belong." he reached out to pick Dakota up, but when he tried to get his hands under the dogs belly, he got a warning growl for his efforts. Dakota wasn't having any more of anyone handling him. When Martin stopped, he gave the mans hand a quick lick as if apologizing, and ran off to a safe distance.

"well, I guess he knows where he's going, old boy," he said to the old Lab. "Let's just hope he gets there safely. He must love someone very much. God speed, little fellow." he prayed the dog made it to where he was going.

Aiden and Ellie had been on the road now for about two hours. They stopped at various gas stations along way, asking the proprietors if they had seen a little Pomeranian traveling with a man. The fact that they could not describe the man made it hard, though, and so far all they had gotten were negative responses. Ellie thought that this trip, more for Aidens benefit, then anything else, would prove to be pointless. Night was falling, and both tired, they decided to pull into a small, off road motel. They decided on the Highway Inn, a clean looking mom and pop motel with a gas station.


"I'm going to gas up before we head to our room, El," Aiden told her. "That way tomorrow morning, we can just get up and go." Ellie agreed, and as Aiden pumped gas, she went in to pay for a room. The man behind the desk was reading the paper, and he looked like a pleasant old gentleman. he looked up at her above the rims of his glasses as she came in, immediately standing up to greet her.

"Well, Good evening, Ma'm! he smiled at her. "What can I be getting for you tonight?"

Ellie smiled at the older gentleman behind an old desk who was shuffling papers around.

"Hi, evening," she answered. "My fiance and I, he's out there pumping some gas, need a room for the night."

"Oh we got lots of those, how about room 11 down at the end?" he offered

"Perfect, oh, and by the way, we're on the lookout for a stolen Pomeranian, taken yesterday around 10 am, and I was wondering by chance have you seen anyone traveling this way, a man, with this dog?" Ellie pulled out the picture of Aiden and Dakota and showed him.

He studied the picture, and slid it back over the counter to her. "As a matter of fact, a man came through here yesterday with a dog like this." he told her. "The reason I remembered, is because when he let the dog out to do his duty, the dog didn't look like very happy. What I mean is, he didn't act like a dog should when being out and about with it's owner. Sad kind of. But what I really remember is the way the man smacked him when he wouldn't get into the car. Being a dog lover myself, well, I was about to go out there and say something."

Ellies heart dropped at this news. But at the same time, she felt enlightened at the fact that they were on the right track after all. She thanked the man profusely, adding, "Listen, the man out there pumping gas? This little dog is his pride and joy, his best friend. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't mention the hitting part to him, it would break his heart."

"Oh of course! Sure! I totally understand." he sympathized. "I wish the both of you luck. It's a big world out there."

Ellie paid for the gas, the room, and got the key and left. Now to tell Aiden the good news, minus the bad news.

© Copyright 2018 Riss Ryker. All rights reserved.

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