Shenandoah River

A Dog Named Fritz (A Cabin on the River-Part 4 &1/2)

The family’s dog might not be a part of a special breed, or born of a pure blood line, but the dog is a rare and special gift to the family itself.

Fritz was no longer pretty, once a fiesty farm dog some 17 years ago.  And the urge to chase a stray cow or a sheep had long since passed, her aching legs had slowed her to a limp, and she had scratched away any mange and remaining hair from her hindquarters.

There’s an old folklore amongst the peoples of the trees and mountains and farms of the valley that old farm dogs don’t just die, but instead venture off to die afar, like the  elephants and their final trip to their secret graveyards.

It was a Tuesday, at 2 or 3 in the morning on a starless night, when the pitiful howls first woke the teenagers.  And then the adults.  It was a distant cry, coming from somewhere deep in the forest of field corn that flourished behind the cabin.

In the complete darkness that surrounded the cabin, there were flashlights beaming about and urgent voices of panic.  Fritz was out there, her near location finally narrowed-down, and off into the darkness the two men went. One old and one getting older, in search of their family’s dog.  With occasional howls and whimpers and a shared flashlight leading the way, they stumbled through the rows of corn until they finally reached her, shivering against the corn stalks, under the clear but starless night sky.

Fritz was carried in arms of love and determination, back to the cabin, through the rows of corn and to the eventual delight of the others.  And after a short while, a few more hours of sleep were had by everyone.

Those damn elephants.

Not four days later, at three in the morning, the howling woke the home once again.  But this time it was different, not coming from off in the fields, but closer, somewhere near the cabin itself.

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