The Pups in the Yard (Second Draft)

I decided to give this story a second draft treatment because I didn’t think my first draft did it justice. A lot has changed between the first draft and the second so I recommend reading this one if you’ve already read the first edition. Enjoy!

The pups roamed the yard, each of their noses pointed directly towards the ground in search of any new smells from the creatures that had paid visit the night before. The soil’s scents were a cocktail of the neighborhood wildlife, a potent mix of raccoons, possums, and of course squirrels. Nothing made the pups more excited than the odor of a a squirrel. The scent of a squirrel evoked thoughts of a thrilling chase around the yard, ending of course with the little furry body within the jaws. In perfect world the squirrel would join the rest of their toys and would become a mainstay in their lives. Unfortunately, every run in so far with a squirrel had ended in the small creature narrowing escaping their grasp. One of these days, they thoughts, one of these days…. 

The neighborhood had an abundance of squirrels. They dashed across the power lines high above, they jumped from tree to tree leaping with their little paws out stretched like a kite, each in search of nuts to snack on or bury for later. They usually wrapped up their business by midday before the hot summer sun hung overhead pounding its scorching rays down onto the neighborhood. Midday was neigh, which meant that the pups had to be vigilant for their small furry friends.

As the pair of pups patrolled the ground high above them huddling on the roof sat a pair of squirrels, their cheeks stuffed to the brim with their latest catch of sweet juicy walnuts that they had gathered from the tree in the front yard. They took too the roof of the house to look out for any beast in the backyard. As expected, two beasts patrolled the backyard below. The pair of squirrels peered their tiny heads over the ledge waiting for the beast to retreat into their abode.

To the squirrels of the neighborhood these beast were nothing more than a nuance. A mild inconvenience in their quest to collect their food as a part of their daily routines. A squirrel was more likely to die from the giant metal monsters that patrolled the gray rock paths across all across the neighborhood. Most of the time if a dog grabbed hold of them them the dog wouldn’t know what to do with their new small furry friend and drop it just out of mere excitement and confusion. Still it wasn’t anything any sane squirrel would ever want to tempt, and those who had intentionally tempted fate with a dash through the yard of a beast were usually the ones who perished in the jaws of a dog. Except for the pale squirrel.

The pale squirrel looked like a typical squirrel: long furry body with a big bushy tale, but where the typical squirrel’s brown fur provided adequate camouflage against the backdrop of a tree trunk of the mulch of forest floor, the pale squirrel had a white coat like a cloud. A white coat for a squirrel was practically a death sentence, and with the pale squirrel’s constant disregard of the beasts that patrolled the yards it had found itself in a considerable amount of trouble. You’d think it’d learn by now to not go toe-to-toe with a dog, and yet it would dash through any open space as long as it meant getting from point A to point B as hastily as possible. One of the squirrels on the roof had even seen the pale squirrel escape the jaws of death from the very same beast that roamed below. If it hadn’t been for the humans of the house intervening, the pale squirrel might have met its end right then and there.

The two squirrels on the roof were not suicidal like the pale squirrel, so like any sane squirrel out there the two on the roof stayed patient and still.

The pups shifted their focus from the ground to the places they knew the squirrels liked to be: they wondered to a small tree on the edge of the property and sniffed up the trunk. The little pup, a black furred dog with a short and stocky body and ears like a bat, yelped up the tree. A method of detecting squirrels that she had perfected: a small yelp was enough to startle a squirrel which would then cause the tree to shiver. The tree didn’t answer. Just to be sure, the larger dog, a brown furred beast with droopy ears, let out a deep woof. The tree remained still. They carried out their investigation around the yard barking at fences, flowerbeds, never checking the roof, for the roof never shivered. 

The dark shingles of the roof began to bake, and the squirrels on the roof began to grow hot. The beast had to leave soon or the squirrels would be forced to make a move. They could risk it and dash across the yard, perhaps they’d even survive if either of them get caught in the beast’s jaws. Otherwise they’d be forced to be cooked to death upon the roof. Trees filled the next yard over, like a miniature forest, if they could just cross over they could relax in the shade and bury their nuts. With the sun no letting up, they decided to tempt fate.

Once the two squirrels had plotted their route they began to take action. The beasts had retreated towards the edge of the yard and now lied beneath the shadow of a neighboring tree, they tongues danging from their open mouths as they panted. The large dog sat up against the chain linked fence that divided him from the trunk of the neighboring tree. His head casually gazing around the yard for any signs of the squirrels. The smaller dog however continued to patrol the perimeter. The squirrels inched to the far side of the roof, as far away as they could get from the large dog and waited for the moment to bail out of there.

One squirrel tensed, ready to take the jump when a loud bark came from across the yard. Had they been caught? How did the beasts notice them so easily? The squirrels froze and turned their heads towards the commotion. 

The smaller black dog had joined in on the barking, her yelps like an alto singing an out of key duet with the deep baritone barks of the larger dog. They were not facing the squirrels, instead their attention was brought to the fence line. In the middle of the chain linked fence a light furred squirrel crawled. The pale squirrel.

In the minds of the two pup they pictured themselves playing with their favorite playmate. Collectively they remembered their last chance encounter with the pale squirrel and the taste of its fur in their mouths. Memories of the playful little chirp it let out when they squeezed it in their jaws came back, it was like a squeaky toy that actually moved! It had been weeks since they had last laid eyes on it, and now it had finally came back to play! But why wouldn’t it come down here right now to play? It just sat there frozen like the dozens of other squirrels they had seen on the fence. They barked louder begging it to join them in the backyard for a little play sesh.

Inside the house one of their owners, a young male in a red shirt and black shorts, who had spent his afternoon laying on the couch mindlessly watching random science videos on YouTube. The cool breeze of the AC blew through the open door way into the backyard where the dogs had begun yapping wildly. He could tolerate a little of the dog’s barking, but their chorus just wouldn’t stop. They had seen a squirrel and he knew it without having to look outside. Something about the intonation of their barks changed when they saw one, their barks grew louder and whinier. Worse, he feared what the neighbors would think of the two dogs going wild outside. They had gotten enough complaints before of the passive aggressive type. Unwilling to leave the comforts of the couch, but wanting to do something about it, he began shouting their names from his cozy spot. He knew they wouldn’t listen, they never listened when a squirrel was present and in due time he knew he’ll have to leave the comforts of the couch and drag the dogs indoors by the collars. Still opting into the lazy life he continued yelling out the open door.

The pale squirrel cocked its head back and forth scanning the terrain below it taking note of the situation. Two canines, both sizable but not an unreasonable obstacle. It had encountered this due of dogs before, nearly escaping their jaws, which made this yard problematic. A human inside the house, shouting futilely over and over (rarely did dogs ever listen to their owners in its presence. Perhaps its white fur made it more desirable in their canine brains). It continued its scan across the yard. The rest of the yard contained a few overgrown planter beds to its left, a covered deck in the middle, and a storage shed on its right. On the roof of the house it spied two brown furred squirrels frozen in place. Its destination lied within this yard, usually not an issue, but the canines always proved to be a hindrance. The human inside clearly showed no initiative to herd the dogs inside despite their loud barks, which was an issue. It needed to get in that yard, what it needed lied within it and it didn’t have long. With no time to waste the pale squirrel acted upon a classic maneuver.

The two squirrels watched from above, frozen in primal fear. the pale squirrel leaped from the fence, its limbs spread outwards turning its body leaf like and drifted towards the yard. The pale squirrel hit the ground and began zigging and zagging all of the place. The two beast hot on its tail. 

The pups lost their minds, their barks roared in excitement as they followed their favorite playmate around the yard. The pale squirrel was fast! No matter how close they got to it it had already zoomed out of the way and off to a different direction. Yet they didn’t give up hope, they had caught it before and they sure as heck could catch it again! If only their playtime hadn’t had been cut short. 

First went the smaller black furred pup. Yanked away by her collar she had been removed from the scene. Her owner dragged her towards the house. She yelped and yelped at the squirrel but her owner wouldn’t give into her demands to play with their little guest. Before she knew it she had been cut off from the outside world with a pane of glass between her and the backyard. The owner returned to the yard to control the larger dog.

The larger dog proved harder to get back inside, not only because he had thirty pounds on his black furred sibling but because he had anticipated this. The owner had a track record of pulling them in whenever they had a squirrel guests. When the owner returned to the yard the larger pup now barking at the pale squirrel, who had climbed to the top of the storage shed, dashed away from the owner. The two of them played a little game of tag across the yard: whenever the owner stepped near the large dog would dash away to another part of the yard. This continued until the owner finally managed to grasp the collar of the larger dog. The game was over. The larger dog surrendered to his owner and let him escort him inside.

The pups in the house watched the pale squirrel through the windows as it dug little holes in the soil searching for whatever squirrels were so interested in finding. Meanwhile, the two squirrels on the roof took a sigh of relief and leapt from the roof towards the lawn and then proceeded to dash off towards the shade. One of them, on passing the pale squirrel, noticed a strange thing in the pale squirrel’s paws. Between the pale squirrel’s white little paws sat a red nut, and even though the sun was fully out the nut appeared to be glowing. The pale squirrel tucked it into its cheeks and dashed away.

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