“Come here, boy!” shouted Danny patting his thighs with his hands. I ran as fast as I could, all four legs just grazing the long grass. My slobbery tongue licked mud off his face. He pushed me away and I barked until he let me have the rest of the mud.
“Danny, jump in!” called John. Danny grabbed my tail and I twirled around and chased after him into the lake. John, Keith, and Matt were neck deep in the muddy water and I watched Danny swim out to them. I stayed barking at the edge, guarding their clothes that were hung up on a tree limb. Once they left them on the ground and I took them to guard them in a hole. But they ran out of the water after me and wouldn’t let me dig the hole. The clothes would’ve been safer but my humans didn’t understand.
I lapped up the water and enjoyed the flavorful critters I snatched up. When I’d had my fill I lay under the tree in the shade and listened to my humans in the water.
When the boys swam back to shore, they were laughing and Danny kept pushing Keith back into the water. I wagged my tail and walked towards them to join the fun.
“Good boy, Doffer!” said Danny. Matt patted me on the head and grabbed his shirt off the tree limb. The other boys followed suit and the five of us left the lake.
We headed for the fort we’d made in the woods behind John and Matt’s house. I went straight for the water dish which stayed filled up with a hose that Matt had rigged stretching from the house and into the fort. Danny handed me a treat which I greedily inhaled and I grabbed the small ball that Danny kept throwing away. Whenever he threw it, I always brought it back to him but my human would just throw it away again. And I would bring it back. Humans could be silly like that. Just from the lake to the fort he had thrown it four times. He was not careful and it was my job to make sure he didn’t lose it.
John pulled out the cards and my humans sat in a circle to play. Then John accused Matt of cheating and punched his brother in the arm.
“You’re just a sore loser!” said Matt escalating into a louder voice and whopping John in the stomach. Then it was war. They tumbled on the dirt and Keith and Danny shifted out of their way. Meanwhile, Danny picked up the cards and he and Keith continued the game. After a few more blows Matt and John joined back in on the game like nothing had happened. They were like fighting pups that put up a fuss and then forgot all about it.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw something move near my humans’ tool box. I looked at the boys to see if they had seen it but they were distracted. I stood up, leaving the ball against Danny’s leg, hoping he didn’t try to lose it in the meantime.
My nostrils flared as I caught the scent of something strange and menacing. I walked to where I had seen the movement. The putrid smell was coming from there. Whatever was lurking was evil. I growled and hunched forward. My humans were in danger. I saw the movement again and lurched, hitting my head against the box.
“What is it, Doffer?” said Matt, starting to crawl in the fort towards me. I turned and barked at him warning him not to come closer. He jumped back and it got the other boys’ attention. The game was paused as they all watched me bare my jaws and growl. When I was sure they were not going to come closer, I turned back to the tool box and pile of sticks in the corner kept for fort repairs and s’mores. The creature was under there. Down on all haunches I sniffed and followed the evil stink around the tools to get a better angle at the stick pile. I growled again, tail and ears perked for action. One look over my shoulder told me my humans were a safe distance away.
I lunged into the debris, snapping some twigs and sunk my jaws around something that squealed and hissed. It scratched my face and I bit down harder. Suddenly I was pulled by my waist out of the sticks. The villain was still in my grasp.
“Lucy!” shouted John reaching for the thing in my mouth. Why didn’t he stay back! It was dangerous. Danny told me to drop it and I reluctantly opened my mouth and let the now whimpering vermin out but was ready to snatch it up again. John, stupid human, grabbed the critter in his hands. When it did not attack, I relaxed and Danny let me go.
“Ma’s going to be pissed!” said Matt crawling on his hands and knees to John. “She just got this stupid cat.”
“Doffer didn’t get her too bad. Just a little scrape on her paw,” said John. He and Matt looked at each other and then both looked at me. I sat up straight and proud. My humans were no longer in danger. I had subdued the cat.
Then Keith started laughing. Danny scratched my ears and joined him. The cat, Lucy, was burrowing as far as she could into John’s arms for safety. She perked her head up and I growled, making her burrow more frantically. John crawled outside the fort with the creature.
Matt was grinning. “The fort does say ‘No Girls’. Good boy, Doffer” he said. Danny grabbed the ball and tossed it inside the fort against the stick wall a few feet away. I brought it back to him. He would never learn.