Everyone turned to look as Dina came running into the kitchen. They were all wondering why Katie wasn’t with her as the normal morning routine was for Dina to help her daughter get ready and then accompany her down to breakfast before driving her to school.
“I was hoping Katie would be here,” Dina said. “Have any of you seen her? She wasn’t in her room just now.”
Everyone shook their heads or said no and Arf went to the door. He wanted out.
“Just a minute Arf,” Dina said. I’ll go with you to look. Has Steve already left for work?” She asked. “Maybe he took her to school and didn’t bother to tell me.”
“I saw Steve leave about an hour ago,” Grandma Helen said. “Katie wasn’t with him. “Oh, dear…where could she have gone to. She can’t have gone far.”
Dina and Arf took off walking. Arf would have rather gone looking on his own as dogs look for people by sniffing and running, sniffing and running. It was much faster and works better when done alone.
“Okay, Arf,” Dina said. “You know my daughter better than anyone. Where do you think she is?”
Arf had a couple of ideas, but he wasn’t sure he should follow up on them right away. Maybe it would be good for Katie to have some time alone. He wanted to be with her while she sat and thought about things for a while, but he also wanted to know for sure that she was safe, so he took Dina to the first place he thought she might be. Their secret spot under the big tree by the river where they had spent endless hours working together on Katie’s therapy.
Katie wasn’t there.
Jamie was running late, but not for work. She didn’t have to be there until one o’clock. There was another place she had promised to be this morning, and the closer she got, the more excited she became.
Mark, the hired hand, was loading up two horses to take to a buyer. He had planned to stop at the house and have breakfast, but instead grabbed a bite to eat and some coffee at the bunkhouse. He was deep in thought as he pulled out. Just as he got to the main gate, he saw Arf standing there barking at him.
When he stopped to open the gate, he left his truck door open and Arf jumped in.
“Do you want to go with me, Arf?” Without looking back, Mark shut the truck door, pulled through and jumped out again to close the gate. He didn’t see Dina running down the hill toward him until the last minute. He pointed to Arf to let her know he was taking him with him. Arf loved to go with Mark to deliver horses and it was something he did quite often.
What Mark didn’t know was that he was transporting a stowaway. Arf didn’t know for sure, but he was fairly certain his Katie was in the front of the horse trailer.
Arf: If Katie is in the human sleeping part of the horse trailer, I’ll be in trouble for not telling everyone I thought she was hiding there. If she isn’t, then I’ll be in trouble for leaving without finding her. He decided to continue to follow his instincts, right or wrong.
Dina stood there watching Mark and Arf leave and she was totally confused. Just as she was about to turn around to walk back up the hill, she saw Steve pull up to the gate. She walked toward him as he pulled through and then got out to close it. When he saw her, he also had a look of confusion on his face. When Dina told him the whole story, he said to jump in and they would try to catch up with Mark and Arf. Steve was hoping Mark would stop at the usual place to gas up before leaving town.
(I should be on track for a more lengthy story tomorrow. Like some of the people who live at the ranch, life gets busy and time gets away from me.
Check out my newest children’s book on Amazon