The Dog and the Horse
The old horse turned his head to the scratching noise that came from the stable door. This was the sign he'd been waiting for. He nudged the bar with his snout, the door swung open, the dog entered wagging his tail at his old friend.
They had ridden this way together before. Ruby's father had bought the horse a few years before he was born. The little boy sat proudly, looking all around at the exciting new world growing up around him as they jogged along delivering timber and hardware to their customers, farmers and new settlers erecting homes in the area.
At 13 Ruby was managing the business, Springs Timber Company. One day he stopped to offload some lumber at a farm in Delmas, a town about 20 miles away, where a new settler was constructing a house.
The sound of yapping rose from the stable behind the house. He walked round to investigate. Alsatian puppies were in a basket, fighting for milk from their mother's teats. The landowner told him to pick one. Ruby thought it would make an ideal gift for his sister Mona's birthday.
The stallion pulling the wagon turned his head toward the little creature and whinnied. The puppy cried for his mother but Mona fed him and her sisters petted him. He stopped crying and wagged his tail.
They made many trips to and from Delmas until the house was completed. The nag and the dog became familiar with every bend and stone in the road. His black snout pointed upwards to catch the sweet fast blowing wind that flattened his ears as they rolled along. The girls called him captain and put a policeman's hat on his head, because he guarded the vehicle and the goods like the chief of police.
By 1930 trucks and motor cars came into use. Uncle Ruby, kept the one animal because he was specially loved by his younger sisters. But they had grown up into young ladies and didn't have much time for riding and petting the old creature. Captain still guarded everything and slept in the stable with his companion. He was very smart, would fetch balls and play hide and seek with the young women and their friends, who were always laughing, on the lookout for a bit of amusement.
Often when they went to feed the horse they found Captain, his face turned towards the old beast, his long pointed Alsatian ears perked, listening. The horse pawed and neighed, as if he was telling stories about the days when the master considered him useful, needing him to pull the wagon.
One day the customer from Delmas came into uncle Ruby's shop, for some building material. As usual they chatted about one thing and another, and the young shopkeeper happened to mention his old horse, and was in a quandary about what to do about him. The man said he wished he had such an animal, to help carry things around the farm. Take him with pleasure, said the generous Ruby, happy to help the farmer, who would also take care of the beast. that had served him and his father before him well.
The next day he came round to the house, and straight away formed an attachment to the horse. He saddled him up as the dog gazed on, puzzled. Then rider and steed moved off, at first Captain barked, then he howled, and tried to run after his friend, but the girls held him firmly. All that was left for him to do was to look into the distance, as his friend the horse, faded away, with his new master, in the direction of Delmas
The dog lay disconsolately for a day on the kitchen floor. The next morning the family awoke to find him gone. Several days passed and they searched everywhere, but the thought entered their minds that Captain had gone off to find his friend.
The horse followed the dog out of the stable. Together they trotted along the old familiar way home, which was deeply etched into their memory.
Of course, one fine day the ladies lifted their eyes from their knitting and sewing, when the music of neighing and joyous barking reached their ears, turning the melancholy silence into joyous laughter.
With thanks to cousin Ruth