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Return to the Wild

The fresh snow cracked under his over-sized paws as he stepped forward. He paused to sniff the air; he would have to move quicker if he was ever to reach the man-camp. The man camp was fire, it was food, and for the dog in his weakened state, it meant survival.

He continued onward now with a new franticness in his step, the sun was slowly sinking on the horizon, soon it would be dark and it would take a miracle to survive another night on the heartless frozen wasteland man calls the Yukon. The dog whined; exhaustion was starting to creep up on him like a skilled hunter stalks its prey. But he must push on; stopping would most certainly mean death, which was not an option.

The dog shivered, the temperature was steadily dropping as the sunlight waned evermore. Hunger, the dog had never hunt before, there had been no need in California, whenever he had been hungry he would stand by his dish and whine, and the boy would scurry in carrying a fine cut of meat. Now in this cold land there would be no boy and meat, unless gathered by his own means. The dog pricked his ears foreword. A rustle in the dense scrub caught his attention; he felt the fur on his neck involuntary rise up as the unknown stepped forth. A snow-white rabbit emerged. Like the dog he too was scavenging for a meal. The dog felt hot saliva drip from the powerful jaws he inherited from his German Sheppard mother, and an instinct, old as time itself, surged forth within him, filling every crevice in his poor abused body, giving new strength to his now feeble and overworked legs as he tensed his body preparing to spring. But this rabbit was wise in the way of dogs and his reaction was immediate. He sprang to the side just as the dog surged forward. The chase was on.

The dog felt a rush of adrenaline as he sprinted after the rabbit, dodging and twisting past obstacles in the dense undergrowth of the forest. He felt power surge through him, as this was what dogs were meant to do, to hunt as predators, as creatures of the wild. Not to entertain the boy when master told him to, not to chase after a ball until the man tires of throwing it, and not to sit on man’s lap giving comfort when needed. The dog leapt foreword, snagging the rabbit between his jaws, his surprise was so great he almost let go, but not before instinct took over. He closed his jaws and with a hearty crunch the rabbit squirmed no more. As the dog bent over his kill and began to eat, he felt a surge pride, an emotion previously unknown to the California house pet.

The sun had now set, and the forest was cloaked in darkness. Once again the dog put his nose to the air, but this time he smelt something different. Rather than the sweet smell of evergreen and pine he smelt an agonizingly familiar smell, he breathed in deeper though it burnt his throat and made his eyes water, it was the smell of a fire and fire meant man.

The dog ran off towards the direction of the smell, his ultimate goal. He came to a clearing where his beloved master sat warming himself around the fire, cooking the hash and attempting to quiet the other dogs and their insignificant squabble. The dog watched from a distance. Something now held him back, held him back from barking for joy and leaping into his master’s arms. It was his newfound wild instinct that ran in his blood, a gift from wolf ancestors from past generations. A gift from a time before California, from a time when dogs ran wild.
The dog turned around and loped off into the forest, never looking back.





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