There was a dog called Duck. He was half cattle dog with a stumpy tail and half border collie. Sleek black fur, with blue patches, long legs and intelligent eyes. He loved to go adventuring. Too often he would run all the way to the neighbouring property, a 15 minute drive away, only to be put on a chain and ignored. His owners were angry with him for doing this, but he always forgot, as he loved the feeling of running through the fields.
He would wait on the chain without food or water until his mistress came to collect him. Luckily for him, he was under the shade of the carport. Hot and thirsty, he lay ever so still, trying to cool down. His friends at the property used to be so kind to him. He had to stay there once, while his owners were away, and they allowed him to come inside. He’d loved that. Oh, and the yummy food he was given. But now they grabbed him and tied him up, saying nothing, and left him there, giving him nothing. He didn’t know why, and wondered when they would be nice to him again. He was sure they still loved him. His feet hurt from running on the rocky ground, and he had prickles in them. How he wished for his big water pot to dip his feet into! Oh well, just lie here and wait for mummy, he thought.
Mummy was kinder than Daddy. He was scared of Daddy, and dreaded being trouble with him. It hurt his feelings when Mummy told him off, but at least she didn’t scare him much. It was lovely that she always came to get him and he got to ride home on the back of the ute.
Ah, the wind in his face, the speed, the bumps.
This one day, things were different. It had rained the day before, and his pen was all boggy, so Mummy let him stay out for the night. After waiting for her to appear in the morning for a while, he wondered where she was. Maybe she was at her friends’ place? Oooh it’s cool this morning, he thought, a great day to go for a run, I’ll go see if she is over there. So off he trotted, splashing through the creek when he got to it and having a drink there. When he arrived at the neighbours’ place, nobody came out and he didn’t get tied up. He roamed around the yard a bit, sniffing everything in sight. Suddenly, there was a loud bang! A gunshot! Startled and scared, he bolted to the gateway. Hesitating there, he thought maybe he had over-reacted. BANG!!! Another shot cracked through the air, and fear gripped his heart. He ran at full gallop down the road that leads back to home.
Duck was afraid of cattle. He went a longer way around to the neighbours so as to avoid the cattle that always lingered at the main creek crossing which took you the quickest way there. Never having had to run back to home before, and feeling dazed by fear, he quickly became confused. Which way to go? He had to make sure he didn’t cross any cattle, and this compounded his fear. He meandered through paddocks, his nose pricked for the smell of water, knowing that on the other side of the water was home. A few times he caught a whiff of the creek, but then saw cattle in the way, so he detoured again and again. Eventually, he found himself looking at some strange looking tall grass stuff, with the water behind it. Not knowing what he was looking at, and thinking it was probably some kind special grass, he bounded into it.
His paws were getting stuck in the slimy mud hiding beneath the tall grass stuff. He had to use all his might to keep going. By the time he was just about at the edge of the creek, he lost his grip and fell down. Now his belly was stuck in the slime too. Exhausted and worried, he gave up the fight to take rest for a while. It seemed the harder he tried to get out of it, the deeper he sank into it.
A faint cry of his name drifted across the fields and pricked his ears. Mummy was looking for him! She sounded upset and worried! Poor Mummy! Oh I must get out of here and get home, he thought. Mustering up the strength to stand with sheer will power, he stood. One slow step at a time, lfiting his paws high each time, and he made it to the creek. Now he was too hot, extremely thirsty, and very tired. He lay in the creek water, blissfully, to cool down and clear his head.
Looking around, he could see he was in a very strange place. There was nothing here that he recognised. Oh dear, he was lost. He stopped and sniffed the air, sniffed the ground, and pricked his ears keenly. He thought he could just make out some familiar smells wafting towards him, so he nervously trotted off in that direction.
Finally, he was in a paddock he recognised. He knew which way to go now, and he took off at full speed again, ignoring the pain in his hind legs. As he was halfway along the fenceline, Mummy saw him and was outside excitedly calling his name and saying he was a good boy. Now he ran even faster, his heart nearly exploding out of his chest, so eager was he to reach that woman he loved so much.
She was so glad to see him, and went to pat him the way she normally would, but everything was hurting and he winced. She seemed to understand, and he limped his way over to his precious water pot full to the brim with cool clean water. A deep long drink, then in went his front paws. Ahhhh, sweet relief! Oh it was good to be home.