As I type this, my little dog lies beside me in my chair, occasionally climbing into my lap to make sure I’m still here. At a mere four pounds, she’s a force to reckon with and is very loyal to me. After studying a picture of JS with the scruffy white and gray dog sitting loyally by his side on the set of Lancer, this story was born. I hope you enjoy my efforts of putting words to a picture.
He sat slumped dejectedly against the barn wall with his elbows propped upon his thighs, a forgotten length of leather strapping being braided between his fingers. A little scruffy-looking white and gray dog sat loyally by his side, its eyes barely able to peer through a veil of tangled and dirty fur. The dog smelled of cow dung and something else unidentifiable, but its companionship was welcome nonetheless. The little dog kept silent vigil, its eyes ever watchful for anything it thought might harm its new friend. At the sound of a voice calling from inside the barn, the dog crouched low and a soft, menacing growl vibrated lowly from deep within its chest.
Deep blue, sorrow-filled eyes raised up from the leather string in Johnny’s hands as he turned his head toward the front of the barn. He didn’t answer the summons, and in fact seemed to mimic the little dog as his shoulders hunched and his head dropped once again. He drew his legs up against his chest and wrapped his arms around his knees, as if to make himself smaller somehow.
“Brother, where are you?” Scott’s worried voice came closer as he walked through the barn and came out the doors on the other side to look around the corral and the horses dozing there in the midday sun. Something moved at the edge of the barn, up against the wall and Scott turned in that direction. He had heard his father and brother arguing, yet again, and had also heard the slamming of the front door. Again. He was beginning to tire of having to act as arbitrator between the two warring factions and wondered if he wouldn’t serve better as an emissary between the government and the Apache nation. Certainly at least his heart wouldn’t be torn each time he had to endure the painful process of this new family trying to get along.
The swish of a long, plume-like white and gray tail was his first indication that he had found that which he sought as he stepped up to the fence at the rear corner of the barn. Laying his arms across the top rail of the corral fence, Scott propped his chin on his forearm as he glanced down at his little brother. He didn’t like the dejected slump of Johnny’s shoulders, and liked even less the almost defeated expression on Johnny’s face and in his expressive eyes when his brother finally looked up at him.
“What are you doing back here, brother?” Scott asked quietly, his voice soothing and calm, despite his frustrations over the almost constant bickering between his newfound father and brother. “Lunch is on the table.”
Heaving a heavy sigh, Johnny shifted slightly and unfolded only enough to place his arms across his knees and stare out across the seemingly endless pastureland before him. The hat on his head was tilted just enough that Scott couldn’t see his brother’s eyes any longer, and for some reason that made the blond man angry.
“Well? Am I just carrying on a conversation with myself?” He growled in agitation as he straightened up and gripped the top of the rail with his hands. He hadn’t heard what the argument between the two had been, but he was fairly certain it had something to do with the little dog sitting so devotedly by his brother side. Scott studied the dog and, as the breeze shifted slightly, took a cautious step back as a definite odiferous scent wafted across him, bad enough to make his eyes water.
Suppressing a cough by covering his mouth and nose with his hand, Scott slapped his other hand against the top rail and huffed a sigh of disgust. “Damn, Johnny! That dog smells worse than Jelly’s hog!” Taking another step away from the pair, Scott finally admitted defeat as Johnny continued to ignore him as he stared out across the land. “I guess if you get hungry enough you’ll come inside,” he snapped around his shielding hand as he pivoted on his heel and turned back toward the interior of the barn.
As soon as Scott was gone, Johnny’s tense shoulders relaxed and he rose slowly to his feet. Turning toward the front of the barn he listened for the sound of Scott’s footsteps to recede toward the house. Hurrying into the barn, Johnny swiftly saddled his horse, his little scruffy companion at his heels as he led Barranca out of the barn. Once out in the sunlight, Johnny vaulted into the saddle and was quickly loping away from the house without a look back.
Scott had reached the front door and stood in the shadows of the porch as he turned and watched his brother hurry into the barn. Knowing what he would see next, Scott slumped a shoulder against a post as Johnny mounted his horse and took off away from the barn, the little dog racing along behind them. Scott thought to try and stop the younger man, but knew that sometimes Johnny had to work things through on his own before anyone could approach him. With a sigh of frustration, Scott turned back to the door and entered the house to eat a solitary meal in the kitchen since his father seemed rooted to his desk.
As he sat down to a plate of warmed over roast beef and potatoes, Scott wondered, not for the first time, if it was all even worth it. Picking through the slightly soggy potatoes, he thought of what he might do, if he didn’t live at Lancer anymore.
Slowing Barranca’s pace once they were out of sight of the hacienda, Johnny glanced back to see the little dog following determinedly along, its pink tongue lolling from the side of its mouth as its little legs worked hard to keep up. Slowing the horse to a walk in deference to the valiant little dog, Johnny smiled softly as the dog gave an almost appreciative yip as it slowed its pace as well.
Veering off the roadway, Johnny guided Barranca toward a wooded area and the wide stream he knew was there. As soon as they reached the gurgling little stream, Johnny dismounted and dropped the reins to the ground close to the water so his horse could get a drink of water and graze on the lush grass on the bank of the stream. He then sat down on a flat stone on the bank and began removing his boots and socks as the little dog sidled up and lay panting beside him.
With a wrinkle of his nose, Johnny began to breathe through his mouth as he got a full whiff of the little dog. “You sure did it good this time, didn’t ya, Blanca?” He said with a chuckle as he worked at unbuttoning the concho buttons on the side of his pants. He then carefully folded the loose legs of the pants up to his knees before standing and rummaging through the saddlebags tied to his saddle. Pulling out a bar of soap, Johnny tossed it onto the flat rock, startling the little dog. He then shrugged out of his shirt and draped it over the saddle horn. He turned to the little dog and laughed softly as it sniffed suspiciously at the bar of soap.
“Yeah, that’s for you,” he said quietly as he stepped gingerly across the grass to the dog and scooped it up under his right arm and grabbed the soap with his other hand. “Your smell even offends me, m’friend.”
Stepping into the stream, Johnny found a deeper spot in the middle and lowered the dog toward the water. To his amusement the dogs paws began to move as if it were swimming, though its feet were still about a foot out of the water. Chuckling at the instinctive movement, Johnny carefully set the dog down in the water, immediately clamping his hand in a hank of fur in order to keep it in place.
“Whoa there, little one, we’ve got some business to see to before you get outta here,” Johnny informed the dog quietly as he carefully dunked the dog into the water so that its fur would be saturated. Applying the bar of soap to the creature, Johnny could swear he heard the dog devising all kinds of painful payback as he gently cleansed the dirty, matted white fur.
It took more than an hour to get the little dog completely clean and by the time Johnny was done, both he and the dog had endured a good dousing and were soaked from head to toe. Knowing exactly what the dog would do were he to release it as soon as he was done, Johnny removed the leather strip he’d been working with earlier from his pants pocket and fastened it around the dog’s neck, leaving a good three feet as a leash. Rinsing off the hair and soap that had been splashed all the way up his chest, Johnny applied the soap to himself since he was already as wet as he could be anyway.
Holding tight to the leash, Johnny dunked his head beneath the surface of the water and then quickly washed his hair with the soap. After rinsing off the soap he looked down at the dog, who was sitting a bit impatiently in the shallows as it waited for him to finish his foolishness, Johnny grinned broadly at the dog as it appeared to be questioning his sanity.
“I know. I know. I didn’t used to like takin’ baths either,” he said with a grin. “It just kinda grows on ya to be clean. You’ll see.” He tossed the soap up onto the stream bank and then made his way cautiously there himself, wincing in pain as he stepped on a sharp rock with his waterlogged and tender foot. The dog splashed quickly out of the water and shook its body mightily, sending droplets of water everywhere. It tried to run off, only to be brought up short by the leather thong around its neck. “Hold up there, Blanca!” He warned as he held tight to the slippery strip of leather clenched in his hand. The last thing he wanted to do was have to wash the dog again once it rolled in the dirt.
Leading the reluctant dog toward a patch of sunlight filtering down through a break in the canopy of leaves above, Johnny urged the animal to climb up onto a smooth boulder seemingly strategically placed in that shaft of sunlight. A perfect place to dry off, he thought as he climbed up onto the boulder himself.
Stretching out on his back against the sun-warmed stone, Johnny sighed contentedly as he closed his eyes against the sunlight shining directly into his eyes. Feeling a lethargy creeping over him, he quickly tied the leather strip to his wrist and then smiled when the little dog released its own sigh of contentment and settled down beside him, its little muzzle propped softly on Johnny’s hip.
A blue jay flitted from one limb to the next over the stream, seeking nuts or acorns for its lunch. It stopped its hunt for a moment as it gazed down at the man and beast disturbing his territory. Giving a raucous call, the jay seemed to be disgusted when neither of the interlopers even budged at the sound. With a flit of his tail, the jay sprang away from the limb and continued his search in another section of the wooded copse.
Johnny didn’t know what it was that awakened him, he just knew that he was in danger. Lying as still as possible, he cracked his eyes open and his heart nearly stopped beating at finding the little dog standing over him, its teeth barred and a vicious growl rumbling from deep within its chest. Those teeth were only inches from his throat and it so shocked him that the seemingly easy-going dog had suddenly turned vicious that he couldn’t move. Then, with a blink of his eye, the dog’s sharp nails were tearing across his bare chest, leaving scratches that drew blood as it launched itself at something on the other side of the boulder. Johnny felt a displacement of air by his ear seconds before he heard the sharp yelp from the dog and the leather strap around his right wrist was pulled taut as the little dog tumbled from the boulder toward the ground a few feet below. The strap wasn’t long enough for the dog to touch the ground and for a terrifying moment all Johnny could hear was the dog as it was being strangled.
Quickly scrambling from the boulder, Johnny fell to his knees as the dog flopped onto its side and lay gasping for breath, its whimpers of pain nearly breaking Johnny’s tender heart. Gathering the little dog up into his arms, Johnny was stunned to see a rattlesnake slithering off into the brush as soon as he’d moved the dog. With trembling fingers, Johnny quickly released the choking tension of the leather collar and then began to frantically search through the thick, fluffy fur for a snake bite. His heart plummeted in his chest at finding the telltale marks on the little dog’s right flank.
Scooping the dog up in his arms again, he raced toward Barranca, slowing his frantic steps when the horse nervously sidestepped away from his hand as he grabbed at the reins. Taking precious time to soothe the edgy animal, Johnny finally was able to mount with some difficulty as he still held Blanca in his arms.
Leaving the shirt hanging from the saddle horn and his boots and socks along the side of the stream, Johnny kicked his heels against Barranca’s sides and held on tight to the little dog as the horse tore away from the stream.
Scott was in the study working on the books with Murdoch when he heard the pounding of hooves coming down the road toward the house. He quickly scrambled out of the chair and ran over to the French doors to fling them open. He was stunned speechless to find Johnny racing his horse toward the house. What he could see from the distance was incomprehensible. Johnny was practically naked, from Scott’s viewpoint. Racing out of the study, with Murdoch on his heels, Scott skidded to a stop at the hitching post as Johnny hauled Barranca to a stop, churning up dust and dirt all around them.
Coughing and waving his hand before his face in a futile attempt to dispel the lingering dust, Scott was once again stunned when Johnny shoved the little white and gray dog into his arms as his brother leapt from the saddle. Some part of Scott’s mind that tended to analyze everything, clued him in that, not only was Johnny shirtless and hatless, he also didn’t have his boots on. Before Scott could connect the thought to verbalize a question, however, the dog was snatched out of his arms as his brother flew past him and into the house.
“JOHN LANCER!” Murdoch shouted as he brushed Scott aside in order to follow his frantic, dark-haired son into the house. “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP THAT DOG OUT OF THIS HOUSE!” Storming after the younger man, who was ignoring him as he hurried up the stairs toward his room, Murdoch clenched his fists by his side and swore to himself that he was going to have the last word on this matter. There had never been a non-human creature living in the house before and there certainly wasn’t going to be one now. He had already gone over that rule with his impetuous son earlier, which resulted in Johnny storming off angrily after Murdoch had found the offensive-smelling dog sleeping at the foot of Johnny’s bed this morning. Now, following his son as Johnny determinedly carried the dog into his bedroom, Murdoch was seething.
Scrabbling to keep up with his brother and father after coming out of his shock, Scott took the stairs two at a time and then pounded down the hallway to Johnny’s room where he skidded to a stop in the open doorway in astonishment at finding Johnny standing over the little dog with a knife in his hand. Murdoch was at the foot of the bed, his hands clenched around the bedpost as he stared in shock as Johnny gently parted the long strands of fur and then applied the tip of the lethal-looking blade to the little dog’s side.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, JOHNNY?” Teresa screamed from the doorway beside Scott. He hadn’t even realized that she had come in at the commotion and when she tried to rush across the room to stop Johnny, Scott grabbed her around the waist to hold her back. He didn’t know what was going on, but he sure didn’t want Teresa’s actions to push his brother into doing something he would regret. Teresa fought Scott’s hold for a moment, and then fell back against his chest, her face turned into his shirtfront as Johnny leaned over the little dog with the knife.
“Blanca’s been snake bit,” Johnny hissed as he crouched over the whimpering animal and quickly squeezed the area around the bite, relieved to see some of the venom come out of the wound along with the welling blood. “Somebody get me some water and a towel.” He didn’t know who had followed his orders, but he quickly applied the towel to the wound as soon as the cloth was shoved into his waiting hand. The pitcher of water from his dresser top was set on the bed and he dipped the edge of the towel into it in order to moisten the fur around the wound so that he could squeeze out as much of the venom as he could.
“What happened, Johnny?” Scott’s voice asked softly from the doorway as he continued to hold Teresa, though she was no longer hiding her face against his chest.
“Later, brother,” Johnny answered as he suddenly had his hands full in keeping the little dog down as it began to seize. Murdoch quickly stepped in and added his large hands to gently holding the dog’s head and shoulders as Johnny concentrated on the bite and holding down the dog’s hindquarters. Murdoch lowered himself to his knees beside the bed, as it was making his back spasm from the bent over position, and suddenly he found himself staring eye-to-eye with his nemesis. As soon as the seizures passed, to Murdoch’s shock, the dog lifted its head and weakly licked the side of Murdoch’s arm as he continued to gently hold it down.
“’s okay, Murdoch, you can ease up now,” Johnny said softly as he continued to press the cool towel against the wound. He, too, had dropped to his knees beside the bed as he worked on the dog.
Staring into the dog’s expressive brown eyes, Murdoch could swear he saw pleading there. He shook his head slightly and looked again, only to find that the eyes were closed as the little dog’s breathing seemed to stutter and slow.
“NO!” Johnny cried as he pressed a hand against the dog’s chest and frantically searched for a heartbeat. “NO! DON’T YOU LEAVE ME, TOO!” Tears streamed unheeded down the pale cheeks as the little dog gave one last huffing breath and then it was still.
For a long, tension-filled moment no one moved in the room, though the sound of the crews coming in for the evening seemed overly loud through the open window. Then Johnny slumped against the bed, his face buried in the side of the little dog as he gathered it close. Murdoch didn’t know when he moved, but suddenly his arms were wrapped tenderly around his son’s trembling shoulders and the dog.
From the doorway Scott could only stare in disbelief as Johnny suddenly tore himself out of his father’s arms and scooped the little dog close to his chest. Hiding his tear streaked face against the soft fur, Johnny ran out of the room, his bare feet hitting the hardwood flooring with resounding slaps. Brushing past Scott and Teresa, Johnny didn’t slow his steps as he raced down the stairs with his precious burden in his arms.
“Oh, damn,” Murdoch whispered, his voice hitching as he rose painfully to his feet. “Go after him, Scott!” The older man knew that his knees wouldn’t allow him to follow fast enough.
Setting Teresa quickly aside, Scott raced after his brother, only to draw up short at the front door to find Johnny standing in the middle of the yard with Jelly’s arms wrapped around his shoulders, the little dog held protectively between them. Then, looking over Johnny’s shoulder, Jelly gestured Scott forward.
“Come on, Scott,” Jelly said quietly. “Let’s help Johnny take care of this little one, okay?”
Slipping an arm around Johnny’s bare waist as soon as he reached them, Scott lifted his other hand and gently stroked the dog’s head lying against his brother’s chest and was surprised at how soft the fur was beneath his fingers. He’d never gotten close to the dog in the two days that it had supposedly followed Johnny home from the north pasture where he had been checking the fence line, but Scott could see that the three days Johnny had spent in the little dog’s company out there on the range had forged a bond that was breaking his brother’s heart at its death.
Squeezing his arm around Johnny’s waist, drawing his brother closer to his side, Scott then raised his hand to gently rifle his fingers through the back of Johnny’s disheveled hair, Scott was rewarded with a soft sigh of gratitude by his brother as Jelly guided them toward the barn.
“Where we goin’, Jelly?” Johnny asked softly, blinking his eyes against the darkness of the barn after being in the waning sunlight of the yard.
“Jus’ need ta get a few things, son,” Jelly answered as he gave Scott a look that was correctly interpreted as the blond gave a slight nod and guided his brother to a bale of hay and settled him down there. “Be right back.”
“We’ll be fine, Jelly,” Scott assured as he knelt on one knee before his brother. Gently stroking his fingers across the soft fur on the dog’s back, Scott looked up into his brother’s sad eyes and felt his heart constrict as he remembered Johnny’s heartrending words when the dog’s breathing had started to falter. He had no idea as to what Johnny had meant, though he had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t good.
In the six months since he and Johnny had come to Lancer, Scott had learned only bits and pieces of his brother’s life and this was yet another confusing piece of the puzzle that was Johnny Madrid Lancer.
“Her fur is so soft,” Scott whispered as he looked up at Johnny with a sad smile.
Scott had never been allowed to have a dog, or even a kitten, as a child as his grandfather had deemed them too messy and needy. He hadn’t thought much of it since then. He now saw that perhaps his grandfather had been right, only not in the way the older man had intended. Scott saw the devastation the death of this dog was having on his brother and wondered if it was worth investing all that time and devotion on something that could be taken away in the blink of an eye.
“I just gave her a bath,” Johnny said sadly as his hand joined Scott’s in stroking the soft fur.
“What happened, brother?” Scott asked softly as his hand continued to caress the soft strands of hair on the dog’s back, his fingers occasionally coming into contact with Johnny’s as the other’s hand lay still against the dog’s side.
“S-She s-saved my life, Scott,” Johnny stammered out as he recalled waking up to danger and finding Blanca standing over him with her teeth barred. “I thought she’d gone l-loco… but, she saw the snake beside m-my head a-and attacked it.” Johnny lifted his hand from the dog’s side and absently rubbed at some scratches on his chest that Scott hadn’t noticed before. “It struck and missed because she knocked it off the boulder and then fell on top of it.” His hand landed gently back on the dog, giving the fur a loving caress. “She s-saved my life,” he whispered again as he closed his eyes and shuddered.
“Scott?” Murdoch’s voice coming from right behind him startled the blond and he quickly whirled on his heel to put himself between Johnny and his father.
“Leave him alone,” Scott growled as he quickly rose to his feet and glared at his father. “Can’t you see that he’s hurting?”
“Leave it, brother.” Johnny stood and cradled the dog closer to his chest. He turned toward Jelly as the older man came from the back of the barn carrying two shovels and a pick. “Let’s get it done, Jelly,” he said quietly as he fell in beside the old wrangler as Jelly handed the pick to Scott. Scott turned and walked alongside his brother as they exited the barn and headed around the back of the house toward a small copse of shade trees that were in clear view of Johnny’s bedroom window.
Footsteps hurried after the trio and suddenly Murdoch was relieving Jelly of one of the shovels as he fell into step with them.
After Blanca was quietly buried, Johnny headed back to the house, his head down as he walked barefoot through the dust. He hadn’t said a word to anyone, but Scott knew that he needed to be alone so he let him go. When Murdoch started to follow his son into the house, Scott grabbed his arm and led him back to the barn where they both carefully tended to Barranca who had been left standing at the hitching post.
Two weeks later…
Johnny rode in from three days riding the fence line in the northwest pasture. He was dirty, tired and hungry and Barranca seemed just as anxious to get home as Johnny, since the palomino was actually chomping at the bit to go a little faster, despite his weariness. Giving the horse a little more lead, Johnny grinned when Barranca slipped into a smooth, ground-eating lope and they were soon riding through the home pastures.
Removing the tack from his horse, Johnny carefully groomed him and settled Barranca in his stall with an extra measure of oats and a pail of fresh water. Only then did Johnny allow himself to head for the comforts of his room. He knew he was too late for supper, but hoped that Teresa had thought to leave him a plate warming on the stove.
As he slipped into the house from the kitchen after sloughing off as much of the dust as he could with the pitcher of water on the back porch, Johnny quietly removed his spurs and muddy boots and carried them in his hand as he walked over to the stove in his equally dirty socks. Finding a covered plate of food on the stove, his stomach grumbled loudly and he quickly set the boots and spurs on the floor to grab up the plate, only to drop it just as quickly before using the cloth it was covered with to pick up the hot plate and carry it to the table.
Snagging a fork from the container on the shelf by the sink, he quickly sat down at the table and dug in to the roast beef, potatoes and carrots and biscuits. He was cleaning the plate with the edge of the last biscuit when he felt something tugging sharply at the toe of his sock. Pushing the plate aside, Johnny popped the last morsel of food in his mouth and leaned over to look beneath the table to see what had accosted him.
Emitting a tiny little growl, the brown and white ball of fur attacked Johnny’s sock with renewed effort, this time its sharp little teeth sank into Johnny’s big toe, bringing the astonished young man quickly out of his stupor.
“OUCH!” Johnny yelped as he jerked his foot away from the offending fur ball and, because its teeth were snagged in the weave of the cloth, the puppy was dragged right along with the foot as Johnny shoved the chair back and scrambled to his feet.
Giving a pitiful yelp of its own, the puppy managed to disengage his teeth and scampered back out of the kitchen as if its little nub of a tail was afire. Standing on one foot, Johnny quickly assessed the damage done to his big toe before dropping it back to the floor and taking off after the little roly-poly puppy, chasing it into the study where Scott and Murdoch sat quietly discussing the ranch’s ledger books.
“Hey! Where’d this little fella come from?” Johnny hurried into the room just as the puppy disappeared underneath the desk where Murdoch was sitting. Johnny dropped to his knees beside his father’s chair and peered beneath the desk at the puppy as it cowered next to the man’s large boots. Reaching tentatively out toward the frightened little puppy, Johnny grinned when it growled lowly and barred its teeth at him. “You’re a tough little guy, huh?” He called out soothingly as he reached in further, his face pressed against Murdoch’s thigh, and gently scooped the puppy up in his hand and pulled him out into the light.
Holding the fur ball gently in both hands, Johnny’s eyes lit up in delight as he held the pup close and got a sloppy lick on the nose for his efforts. Cuddling the soft fur-covered body against his cheek, Johnny turned his sparkling blue eyes up to look at his father. “Where’d he come from?” He repeated, his voice soft and wondering as the puppy nuzzled his cold nose against his ear and seemed to sigh contentedly before dozing off.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Murdoch said offhandedly as he set his pencil down and threw a quick glance across the desk at Scott before looking back down at Johnny as the younger man sat back on his heels to cradle the little puppy close to his chest, his long, slender fingers gently smoothing over the soft fur on the puppy’s back. “He just showed up here one day while you were gone.”
“Yeah?” Johnny said quietly, his eyes filled with pleasure when the puppy snuggled closer to him. “Can we keep him, Pa?” He asked softly, as he turned hopeful eyes on his father, completely unaware that he’d spoken the one word sure to get him anything he wanted from his father.
Swallowing past the sudden thickness in his throat at that word spoken so quietly, Murdoch could only nod his head and smile softly as Scott came around the desk to crouch beside his brother.
“We’d better keep him, brother because I’ve never had a dog before. Think you could show me how to train him to come when I call? He hasn’t been very obedient so far,” Scott said as he gently stroked a finger down the puppy’s back.
“Ah, Scott, he’s too young to train yet,” Johnny told him earnestly and grinned when the puppy shifted around in his hands before flipping over onto his back and going right back to sleep. “He sure is a little thing, ain’t he?” Raising brilliantly blue eyes to gaze up at his brother, Johnny’s smile practically lit up the room.
“Yes, he is, brother. I think you’ll probably have to keep him pretty close in order for him not to be scared… At least until he’s bigger.” Scott hid a grin behind his hand when Murdoch grunted something neither brother could hear, though Scott was pretty sure it wasn’t something they’d even care to hear. “Come on, Johnny, let’s take him outside for a walk before you go to bed.” Holding a hand out for his brother to help him to his feet, Scott smiled when Johnny’s free hand slipped smoothly and easily into his own. As he hoisted the preoccupied young man to his feet, he noticed that Johnny didn’t have his boots on. “Where are your boots, brother?”
Waving his hand vaguely toward the kitchen, Johnny headed out of the study toward the front door without a thought to walking about in his socks.
Scott turned to look at Murdoch, who seemed to be choking and suddenly realized the older man was attempting to stifle his laughter. Unable to resist the unusual phenomenon, Scott quickly joined in.
Setting the puppy down in the grass at the side of the house, Johnny shook his head and smiled at the laughter coming from the open front door. He knew what those two were up to and it warmed his heart to know that they cared enough about him to find this little scrap of a dog to replace the one he’d lost. Tears welled in Johnny’s eyes as he watched the little fur ball roll around in the grass before dropping to his little chest and suddenly attacking Johnny’s toes. His laughter soon joined his father’s and brother’s.
Jelly quietly melted back into the barn with a contented smile on his face at having found the little puppy and bringing him home. If he didn’t know anything else, he certainly knew the way to a boy’s heart.
Created July 18, 2008
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