Piper Tales: The Adventures of a Lucky Black-and-White Dog
Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you chapters from Piper Tales that you can read with your children. Tune in each Monday for the next installment.
Chapter 1: That’s A Dog’s Job
The moment Chincha saw Tyler reach for his backpack she pushed her nose into the corner of the kitchen door and drummed her fluffy white tail against the side of the counter. As soon as it opened, she burst onto the porch and ran into the yard. After a pause to be sure he was still coming, she took off at full speed and then slowed to trot ahead of him along the dirt road. That was her job—to lead the way to the bus stop, sniffing past old smells and stopping to pee on new ones.
Now and then, she picked up a scent so new and exciting she’d forget about her job, leave the road, and shoot off to follow wherever it led. Tyler didn’t mind her exploring, so long as she didn’t go into the woods. He’d hunted for deer and turkey with his dad in those woods and knew it was no place for house pets. Whenever she wandered too far, Tyler called her back with two sharp whistles and she’d quickly return to his side.
But today things were different and, as they would soon discover, something far more dangerous than a romp in the woods lay just ahead.
Chapter Two: A Desperate Race
During the first warm weeks of spring in South Carolina, wild flowers begin to appear, and so do snakes looking for mice and a nice sunny place to rest after a fine meal.
Chincha was trotting just ahead of Tyler exploring a patch of blue flowers. She’d caught the scent of something new, and with her head down, sniffed along its trail. She suddenly came face-to-face with one of the biggest diamondback rattlesnakes Tyler had ever seen, and before he could do anything to stop it, her curious sniff of greeting was returned with the angry strike of poison-filled fangs the size of pencil tips.
Chincha drew back and made a sound unlike anything Tyler had ever heard. It wasn’t a howl. It wasn’t a bark. It wasn’t a growl. It was a scream—a scream as real as any human’s.
Tyler squatted down and looked at her. Tears were coming out of her eyes, and as the snake recoiled for a second strike, Tyler threw his back pack at it, grabbed Chincha and ran as fast as he could for home.
Thank God! His mother’s car was still sitting in the driveway. She hadn’t left for work yet and his cries for help brought her quickly to the door. Moments later, they were on their way to the vet with his mom driving faster than Tyler had ever seen her drive.
She honked at cars and passed trucks, hurried through yellow traffic lights and even screeched around a corner as they raced to the vet’s office. Chincha curled in Tyler’s arms as he stroked her back and told her over and over again, “Hang on little one, hang on. We’re almost there. It’ll be okay. Dr. Bagton will take good care of you.”
Chapter Three: Good News—Bad News
The car had barely come to a stop in front of the vet’s office when Tyler threw open the door and jumped from his seat. He flew up the steps to Dr. Bagton’s office, and still cradling Chincha in his arms, hurried past the reception desk hollering for the doctor.
Talking so fast Dr. Bagton could barely understand him, Tyler explained what had happened. He quickly followed him into the examination room and gently laid Chincha on the table. “Are you sure it was a rattlesnake?”
“Did it look like this?” Dr. Bagton pointed to the picture of a diamondback rattlesnake featured on the cover of a Field and Stream magazine.
“Yes. That’s exactly what it looked like. I know a diamondback when I see one!”
“Okay, Tyler. I believe you, and that’s good news, because the only anti-venom I have on hand is the anti-venom used specifically to treat the bite of an eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
While Dr. Bagton treated Chincha, Tyler waited anxiously with his mom and prayed that Chincha would pull through. After what seemed like forever, Dr. Bagton came to talk to Tyler and his mom.
“Chincha is resting comfortably now. You got her here in time for the anti-venom to do its job. I believe the worst is behind us now.”
Tyler jumped to his feet and was headed for the examining room again when Dr. Bagton stopped him. That’s the good news, Tyler. The bad news is rattlesnake bites have a history of not healing well. It’s best to let her rest now and I’ll need to keep her with me for a few days to see how she does.”
The trip home without Chincha was the longest ride of Tyler’s life. He was sad and mad and sorry all at once. He pounded the side of the car door with his fist and wiped his tears with the sleeve of his sweatshirt.
“I’ll get that snake if it’s the last thing I ever do!”
Chapter Four: Beating the Bushes
Tyler wasn’t home very long when his dad and some of his dad’s friends began to arrive at the house. Wearing thick boots, heavy jeans, chaps, and armed with a snake tongs and a gun, the men headed out along the road. Tyler got his coat and went to join them, but his dad stopped him.
“No Tyler. I need you to stay on the porch and make sure things are okay here.”
When the men returned, Tyler’s dad smiled, gave him a thumbs up, and tossed him his backpack. It was found near the patch of blue flowers where Tyler threw it trying to hit the snake that had bitten his dog.
As the men headed for their trucks to leave, Tyler heard one of them say, “That snake will never bother anyone again.” He felt a little better after that but was still sad.
After dinner he finished his homework, got ready for bed and knelt to say his prayers. “Jesus, I know you know all about what happened today. I’m sorry for letting Chincha get bit by that snake. Please make her better and let her come home soon from Dr. Bagwell’s. I promise I’ll take good care of her. Amen.”
He climbed into bed just as his dad stepped in to turn off the light. He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m mighty proud of you, son.”
A huge lump formed in Tyler’s throat and when he finally spoke the words came out all squeaky.
“How can you say that? You’re the one that killed the snake. All I did was run away.”
“That’s true, but I had other people with me and was prepared for the battle. Only a fool stays to fight alone when the odds are stacked against him. You did the right thing.”
His dad pulled the covers up under his chin, kissed him on the forehead, turned off the light and said, “Good night.”
Across town Tyler’s prayers were about to be answered in a way he could never imagine.
(To be continued next week!)
By: Penny Hunt
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