***I saw Blackie was gone. I don’t know if that’s the horse’s name, but I call him Blackie because he’s black. Dina wasn’t home and I know for sure that Katie wanted to show her that she could walk six steps right away. Then I saw Steve and Brad take off and I figured they went looking for Dina and Blackie. Then I saw that Blackie was back, but Dina wasn’t, so the only thing I could do was to go and find her. I went down the same road I went with Steve when we saw that little house. I don’t know why that’s the direction I went, but it’s a good thing I did.
Dina wasn’t on the road. She was off the road. I couldn’t really see her that well, but I saw something move in the tall grass and I went to have a look. It was Dina.
“Arf? Arf? is that you? Please help me. I twisted my ankle and it’s already swollen twice it’s size.”
***I could see she was hurting. I went over to her and barked and then turned around to go get Steve and Brad.
“Don’t leave me here, Arf! It’s getting dark. The horse got spooked by a rattlesnake and I fell off and landed on my ankle. Luckily the snake had slithered off by then, but I don’t want to be laying here in the dark with rattlers around. Stay with me. I know someone will eventually drive down that road and they’ll be close enough for you to be able to hear them and get their attention. I heard a car on the road earlier, but I was too far away for them to hear me yelling. Oh, Arf…I don’t know how much of what I’m saying you even understand, but please…stay with me.”
***I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do, but I stayed with her, anyway. I didn’t want to leave her by herself in the dark.
Brad drove everywhere he could think of that a horse could go and was about to return to the house to see if they had heard anything, when he decided to backtrack and go down the road to the house he and Steve had gone to earlier. It was dark and he was beginning to get very worried. Wherever Dina was, she was on foot, and where was Arf?
A little while later, Arf heard Brad’s truck and so did Dina. He didn’t wait for her to give him permission. He left her to go chase Brad down. Brad was driving slowly, so it was easy to get his attention.
“Arf!!!…I was really hoping you would have Dina with you.”
Arf did his usual bark and follow me routine and Brad did as he was told. They hadn’t gone far when he saw Dina. She was about a half mile from the road and she was sitting there in obvious pain.
“Brad…Thank God. I was beginning to wonder if Arf and I were going to have to be here all night. The horse got spooked by a rattlesnake and I fell off. Guess I’m not quite the horsewoman I thought I was.”
“I’ll drive the truck over here in a minute, but let me take a look at that ankle. I need to know if I should take you home or to the emergency room.”
“No Brad. The emergency room is not an option. I’ve probably already missed Katie’s homecoming. Have you seen her? Do you know how she did?”
“I’ll let them tell you all about it when we get home. We’ll at least get that ankle iced down and see how everything looks in the morning.”
When they got home, Steve told them that poor Katie had cried herself to sleep. “Why couldn’t you just stay here and wait for her?” Steve knew he had no right to be so angry. Dina was already in a lot of physical pain. “I’m going to check on Katie and then I’m going to bed.”
Dina wanted in the worst way to ask if she could come with him, but there was no way she could put any weight on her ankle. Besides, she had a feeling he would refuse to allow her to take a peek at her daughter. In his eyes, and most definitely Katie’s, she was still not to be trusted. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t stop the tears.
“I brought you some ice and a sandwich,” Brad said as he walked right past Steve who was leaving. He could see the tears in Dina’s eyes and he knew they had nothing to do with her ankle. She was an emotional wreck.
“Did Steve tell you that Katie did well today? She can’t wait to show you what she and Arf have accomplished. Tomorrow is a new day, Dina, and it’s going to be a good one. Just keep believing in yourself and that beautiful little girl of yours. Right, Arf?”
***Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark…Here comes Miss Bessie. Maybe she’s got a good bone for me.
“Brad…Jamie’s on the phone for you. Here Arf…here’s your bone. As always, you certainly deserve it! And guess what? Jamie is coming to talk to Brad tomorrow and then she is going to take you to the vet clinic for a play date with Annie. Looks like you get the day off!”
***But what about Katie? She needs me to show Dina that she can take six steps. I’m staying here. Maybe Jamie can take me the next day….
Later that night, when Brad was helping Dina to her room and Helen was along to help her change and get her settled in, Dina asked if she could just peek in Katie’s room. She needed to see her daughter if only for just a second.
Helen looked at Brad and nodded her head.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Dina whispered.
She heard a little voice in the darkness say, “I can’t wait until tomorrow, Mommy. I’m going to tell you all about my six steps. Daddy said you fell off the horse and hurt your ankle. Maybe Arf and I can teach you how to walk six steps, too. We’ll do it together. Goodnight Mommy…I love you.”