WHO SHOT SAM?

  BY ABBY 

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Keeper and Abby . . . . . . do they ponder their existence?

The leaves have fallen.

The grass has gone all brown.

The snow, the snow is coming down, our valley turning white.

And its cold, wonderfully cold in the country after it was so very hot in the summer.

Did you know that Keeper and me, our hair is getting thicker, the tufts twixt our toes getting longer?

But Keeper and I are sad. One of our friends has died.

In the early part of the cold season, every year, the hunters come to our valley. But not with guns. No sir, they can't use guns in our valley. But the hunters come anyways and they use bows and arrows and our friend Sam got himself shot a few mornings ago.

And we don't know who did it.

Our friend Sam was a big white Malmute dog, even bigger than Keeper and me. And he was white all over and bushy if you know what I mean. Sam had wandered away from his first home during the last cold season and Rick had seen him on the highway a few times and then he found his way to our neighbours and they took him in. So we got to know Sam a bit when we wuz walking down the country road to get the mail and the newspaper with Rick and Carol.

Since Sam was used to wandering around it took him a while to figure out that he had to stick close to home because, well, that's what home is for. To stick around. And it wouldn't be too smart for Sam to get lost twice!!!

But Sam was sticking around home when the hunters started to come to our valley. And they always come early in the morning long before the sun goes up and they sneak around in the trees and plains near our place and they shoot the elk and the deer.

But they shot Sam instead. Maybe he was chasing away the deer and the elk or something and the hunters didn't like it. Maybe he was bothering them.

But they didn't have to shoot Sam for that.

We don't know who did it but the doctor says it was an arrow. So we are sad today for our friend Sam who got shot.

Keeper and me have a fence that Rick and Carol built around our four acres so we can't wander around like Sam unless we are going on Epik Journies. So we won't get shot by arrows.

When we go into the hills with Carol and Rick we sometimes see the wooden platforms the bow hunters have built in the trees. They sit in the trees and shoot the deer and the elk when they come by.

Abby watches out for dangers . . . .

So Sam got shot but we watched the elk get away from the hunters a few mornings ago. It was early in the morning just as the sun was coming up and someone chased all the elk out of the trees on the other side of the valley. There were lots and lots and lots of elk and they all started running across the valley towards our house and the hunters stood up and tried to shoot them but all them elk got clean away and ran and ran and ran and jumped fences and ran into the hills. But one got left behind and one hunter tried to sneak up behind her and she saw him and started to run right towards another hunter who was waiting. But she saw him too and ran away from him and got back with the herd.

I don't know why people go hunting. It seems pretty easy to find deer and elk and coyotes and such for Keeper and me. Just today we were up in the hills and we saw four deer and we saw a coyote. And the other day we got close enough to a deer to smell him real good and we chased him just a bit but not too much. I don't know if you know much about deer but they is awfully fast and we couldn't catch them anyways. Keeper is really fast for a dog, a lot faster than me, and she chased a deer once when she was inside our fence and the deer was outside. Well the deer ran clean around our place and Keeper was mighty tired out and never even got close to that deer.

But some deer are awfully cheeky if you know what I mean. Some of them don't run away when we bark at them from our side of the fence. They just stand there and laugh at us cause they know we can't chase them and even if we could we wouldn't be able to catch them.

Keeper and her shadow . . . . . .

But we find lots of deer bones and legs and hooves and skulls and such in the hills. The deer live about seven turns of the summer and then they die and then the coyotes eat them and leave the bones and then Keeper and me find the bones and bring them home sometimes to chew.

And so it is cold now, very cold and wonderfully cold. The hot time is too hot for Keeper and me mostly and itís tough to be out in the sun if Rick hasn't set our pool up. But we don't need a pool full of water in the cold time because itís . . . . . well, itís cold.

Well, I guess we should tell you about our new sisters, Daisy and Maude. They are kittens that were starving cause they lost their mother and someone found them in the country near our place and Rick and Carol heard about them and they took the kittens in. They are both black and white. Maude has got a bushy tail and lots of fur and Daisy has got a kink in her tail and is mostly white with some black.

And I got a complaint. Maude won't leave me alone. Whenever I lay down for a nap Maude comes over and hugs me and kisses me and busses her head up against my nose. It is hard to get any sleep around here. Daisy likes Keeper and me too but not too much which is okay with us.

Keeper runs for home at sunset . . . . .

Our brother Taffee is sick. He is 15 now and I guess that is old for a cat. But he's a nice cat and he helped raise me to be polite when I was a pup when he kept hitting me in the head if I tried to pick on him. So he taught me to be polite and I sure hope he can be OK. I hope nothing happens to him like happened to our sister Marcie who was 15 and died in the last cold time.

We have had all sorts of interesting company lately. We have had a "plumber" come to see us and we have had someone come with a truck that pumped goop from a hole in the ground right next to our house. And we had lots of people come to a party Carol gave for shiny sparkly things called "jewelry." When the ladies came it was wet outside and Keeper and I had been digging and because we like people so much Rick had to hold us while the ladies ran for the house otherwise we might have given them a muddy "Hello." But he let go of us just as they were getting to the house and they went squealing into the house just before we got there. That was fun.

Our neighbours with the four kids have built a fence like ours and they say they are going to get a puppy pretty soon. And they say it is going to be a Bernese Mountain Dog whatever that is. But they said it is big like Keeper and me. Just a bunch of different colours. But that's OK cause we would like a new friend.

All the cows got taken from the hills and put into the valley so the farmer can keep an eye on them and feed them in the cold time. But we found one cow who didn't get to go into the valley. She had died and been eaten by the coyotes and so there were lots of new bones and fur to smell when we were walking in the hills.

Keeper and me are two now and it seems we have lived a long time.

And maybe, as we get older and older, we are seeing the sad part of our valley.

The hot times and the cold times come and go. The leaves grow and fall and grow again. The deer and elk and coyotes come by our place and some don't come back but babies grow up and take their place. The farmer moves his cows from the hills to the valley and back to the hills again. But some get sold to the market and then he buys some others to take their place. Buddy, our blind friend who lived next door moved away and Sam got shot. But maybe our neighbours will get us a new friend, a Bernese Mountain Dog. We have new kitten friends in Daisy and Maude but my good friend Taffee is sick.

The more things stay the same the more things seem to change.

I don't know what to wish for.

Do I want my new friends to stay or do I want my old friends to come home? Like Sam? Like Buddy? Like Marcie?

Life is hard to figure out when you get old.

Stick together, no matter what . . . .