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I woke to the heavy foot falls of my Master. His nasty scent filled my delicate nose.
“Get up you nasty curs!” He roared
I heaved myself to my paws and stood on my shaking legs. My whole body seemed to droop with exhaustion. My head and tail hung lifelessly. I looked to Layla, the silver husky bedded down next to me. She was worse off than I was. Her left foreleg was tucked under her and it was still red and crooked.
“Hang back today.” I whispered to her
“Like you can talk. How far along are you?” She whispered scornfully motioning to my swollen belly
“Nova said they could come any day now.”
She shook her head.
“We got a long day, so we are going now.” He snarled grabbing two of the dogs off my line
“He won’t use you. He’s not that stupid.” I said
“Yeah, but you’re his only lead dog. You’re going to run hard again today.” She said frightened
“I’ll be fine. I ran during all of my other litters.”
“No this hard.” She argued as he stomped back in and grabbed two more
I watched as they hung loosely and were dragged outside across the hard cement floor.
“Don’t you dare run as hard as you can today.” She warned as he stomped back in
He grabbed a mound of white fur splashed with gray patches. It lashed out and tried to bite him, but the Master was holding it so it couldn’t and smacked its mouth.
‘Surge.’ I thought sadly as he was dragged out with a black husky
I heard a painful yelp followed by a snarl. Then I heard the whip. My hackles rose. My lips curled into a snarl and I stood stiff legged.
“Nikita.” Layla growled in warning
I snarled loudly and barked. He stormed in with his whip still uncurled. Other dogs whined and shied away from him.
“Back down.” Layla barked
He snapped the whip at us in warning. Layla cowered down near the floor, but I growled again deep in my throat. He roared in rage and raised the whip. I closed my eyes and the whip bit into my side. I yelped in pain and let my tail slip in between my legs. His meaty hand grabbed my scruff, unclipped me from the line, and dragged me out. I was hooked into the lead harness and dropped into the snow.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” Surge said
I licked my side trying to clean the cut and tried to stop the bleeding.
“Get moving you fat cur!” The Master exclaimed
I jumped forward against my harness and the other six dogs did too. We strained to get the over loaded sled moving. We pulled with all our might and slowly got it moving. We pulled the sled at top speed through the worst terrain for hours before we reached the nearest town. We pull up to the center of the town and collapse from exhaustion. Our master scoffed at us and went into the general store to trade.
“Is everyone good? Terk, I saw you favoring in last stretch on a turn, how is the leg holding up?” I questioned
Many grunted in agreement.
“It’ll hold up for the return trip, but I won’t be able to run for a while after that.” A black dog in the back replied
“What about you?” Surge asked
“I’m fine. Just tired.” I panted bedding down in the snow.
We waited out in the snow for 20 minutes before the master and the shop keeper came out. They surveyed the goods and settled on the price. They shook before the Master directed their attention to us.
“I won’t buy dogs. I’ll buy everything else, but I can’t buy no dogs.” The shop keep said
I rolled onto my side and exposed my belly.
“Is that one pregnant?” He asked eyeing me
“No, she gets too much food. She’s just fat.”
“A fat lead dog.” The shop keep scoffed “Just like pullers are weak. Unload and leave the product here. I’ll give you your money in a minute.”
The shop keep disappeared and the Master started unloading the sled.
“The return trip should be quick.” I said softly
Heads nodded. The shop keep and his extra hand came back out and assisted the Master with the unload.
“Here ya go.” The shop keep said handing over a wad of green stuff.
I got to my feet and yipped excitedly.
“Here girl.” The extra hand said passing me some fish
He walked down the team and gave a bit of fish to everyone. I gulped it down greedily before the Master cracked his whip to get us going. We surged forward through the town. The journey home was a quick paced gallop, but fun. The Master staked the sled down and went in the dog kennel.
“Where is he going?” Surge demanded
I started pacing back and forth.
“I don’t know.” I answered calmly trying to see inside the warehouse.
I heard a yelp and the grating of metal. My ears pricked up.
‘Not Layla. Please not Layla.’ I thought
“We’re heading back into town. It looks like he found a buyer for one of us.” I said looking back at my team
He came back out with Valasco, a muscular black husky with a large white patch on his back and a white spot over his right eye extending to his ear, in a crate. The Master dropped him onto the sled and got back to the back of the sled. He un-staked us and cracked his whip. We sprang forward and flew through the woods.
“Nakita! Stop!” Valasco exclaimed
“You know very well she can’t!” Terk exclaimed
I ran and ignored the argument. Valasco meant an awful lot to me. He was all I had left from the good times. The time before the Master lost his prize team. The day I lost my family.
“Stop!” The master exclaimed
I slammed my paws into the snow and the team followed.