Mark found a secluded spot at the foot of the mountain and parked his truck and horse trailer there. He had decided to bring the horse along in case he couldn’t make it up the mountain with his truck. He would find out in the morning what the road was like, but according to his map the cabin looked like it should be fairly easy to find. He was grateful that Arf and Annie were with him. They were both smart dogs, and would catch on quickly to their part in the search for Clark’s grandpa.
“This is a pretty good spot don’t you think?” Mark was clearing a place to put his charcoal cooker. He was hungry and he knew Arf and Annie must be, too. It had been a long day, and they had to get up early in the morning to get started on their journey. While he cooked sirloin burgers and warmed up beans for supper, Mark marveled at the beauty of the forest at night. When he looked up, he could see the stars through the tall pine trees. He also heard the sounds of water flowing in a nearby creek. “This will be a good night for sleeping,” he said.
Arf and Annie woke Mark up early the next morning. They were anxious to go find Clark’s grandpa. Annie told Arf she had a funny feeling that all was not well.
Annie: We’re not totally sure Grandpa John is even there. That Harvey person wasn’t exactly the truth telling type. What if the story he told us is nothing but a big whopper?
Arf: Harvey said he lived with Clark’s grandpa for six months and he sure knew a lot about him and also about Clark’s family. Enough that it was pretty easy for him to pretend like he was Grandpa John. Do you want to play with the frisbees while we wait for Mark to get ready to go?
“Well, are you two ready to hit the trail? I walked up the road a ways and it looks like the truck can make it at least part way up, but just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll ride Rex. I’d hate to have to drive all the way back down the mountain and start over. Why don’t you two walk in front of us. Maybe you’ll be able to pick up on something that might help us find that cabin.
They had only been on the road a couple of hours before Arf sensed smoke coming from up ahead. He turned and barked at Mark and soon he smelled it, too.
“Run ahead and find out where that smoke is coming from,” Mark said. “No doubt someone is burning wood in their fireplace which means we must be getting close to a cabin. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be too hard to tell if it belongs to Clark’s grandpa; especially if he’s there.” Mark started to chuckle. “If you two could understand what I just said, you would laugh… however dogs laugh.”
Annie: Mark is a funny guy. He has no idea how much we understand. Come on…I’ll run ahead with you. That smoke looks pretty close.
When the two dogs reached the cabin, they could see a small trickle of smoke coming from the chimney, but the cabin was dark. Even though it was still early in the day, the denseness of the trees in the forest made it appear much later and if anyone was home, they would surely have a lantern burning.
Annie: Can you hear that noise? It sounds like a hurt animal. I think it’s coming from inside the cabin. Should we try to get in there or wait for Mark to catch up?
Arf: Lets look around and see if we can find a way to get in. Wait…maybe we should bark first. I’d hate to break in if there’s someone home and they’re hurt or sleeping.
About that time, the door to the cabin swung open and Arf and Annie found themselves staring into the eyes of a grandpa dog. He was hard to look at and he was drooling.
Arf: Did he just say his name is Biff? It sounded like our kind of dog talk that nobody can hear or understand except us.
Annie: Pleased to meet you Biff. I’m Annie and this is Arf. We’re looking for someone. Might we come in and ask you a few questions?
Biff: Got any identification? A dog tag or something? Awe, I’m just fooling with ya. When a dog reaches a certain age, they like to make young pups like yourselves skiddish.
Arf: Nice place you’ve got here. Do you live with a human?
Biff: Yup, his name is John. He went off fishing in the stream down below this morning. I probably should have gone with him, but woofta, my bones were hurting something aweful.
Arf: Here comes Mark and his horse. Biff you’ve got to show us where John is. We’ll act like we used our dog senses to find him. Hey Biff, I don’t guess you like to play with frisbees do you? Nah, never mind, I can tell you’re frisbee days are over.
When Mark reached the cabin Arf, Annie, and Biff started walking towards the creek. He figured out right away that they wanted him to follow. He was getting a real kick out of the old dog. He was so ugly he was cute and only had one speed…slow.
Arf and Annie could see the creek up ahead when Biff suddenly stopped.
Annie: What is it Biff? Did you pick up your human’s scent?
He headed to a rocky area about fifty feet from the creek. Arf and Annie with Mark close behind, followed him to where an old man lay on his back near a big jagged rock. Mark quickly checked him over and determined he was unconscious, but still alive. He had lost a lot of blood, but had apparently been conscious enough at some point to wrap his shirt tightly around his head.
Biff sat by his friend’s side and wished he’d gone fishing with him that morning.
“It would take me two hours to get back down the mountain to get help,” Mark said to himself. “The road turned out to be good enough all the way up to drive the truck, but there’s no sense thinking about that now. I’m just going to have to use my EMT skills to help this man.”
“Stay with him,” he said to the worried dogs. “I’ll ride back to the cabin and grab a blanket for a makeshift traverse. We have to get him back there. It looks like a storm is on the way.”