Nook's decision

The many days of hard labor took its toll on poor Nook, the lead dog on the sled team. His team had dropped like flies now that they had been sold to a new man. He and the two female break dogs, Liger and Wind Call were all who survived pulling heavy loads across twenty miles of frozen tundra. With each step they took, a deep red paw print stained the arctic snow.

"Hut!" called the sled driver and the huskies strained their muscles to pull the load. They were forced to go as fast as they could for several miles, slow, and then rapidly fight against the menacing cracks and stings of the whip.

The dogs came to their destination and fell exhausted into the snow. Their throats wheezed as they took in the fresh cool air into their lungs. The musher brought them a gallon of water each and they slurped it down until their bellies bulged. The cool, spring water felt fresh on Nook's tongue and slid with ease down his dry neck. He looked over to the north and saw a pack of wolves frolicking together like playful pups in the springtime. Nook's mother was full wolf and his father was a wolf-husky crossbreed. He vaguely remembers his mother's soft tongue caressing his tiny body as a pup. All the other dogs had avoided her at all costs, especially since she was twice as big as the largest male.

The wolves stared into hit pale blue eyes. Nook felt as if he were under a trance and slowly approached the pack of eight. The musher cracked a whip and the wolves darted out of sight, but so did the remaining sled team. They looked around every tree, behind every bush, and into every hole, but the wolves were nowhere in sight. Just as they were about to retreat to the dreaded musher and his sled, the wolves appeared. They stood with power and beauty, baring their white fangs and swishing their bushy tails. The alpha sniffed them and his forehead flattened.

"We are one. You have wolf blood. Each of you survived because your ancestors were among a pack you know as us, wolves. You survived where any purebred dog would have fallen. No dog can make a journey as you three." His golden eyes looked into the blue eyes of the crossbreeds. "Come. You may join our pack or return to the master who feeds you slop and grease. The master who makes you suffer by forcing you to sleep outside and away from the fire. The master who you call man." Nook knew that becoming a wolf meant that he could never return to his old life, no matter if his old master bought him back or his current master was taken. He knew he would have to abandon all he had learned and trust his wild instinct.

"I will gladly join into your pack. I am only just more than half wolf, but it still runs in my blood and pumps through my veins. You have invited me, but what about my friends?" Liger and Wind Call shifted their blue eyes at each wolf.

"Your friends may come until they are taught well enough to join or start a new pack."

The months passed and the dogs learned to be wolves. Liger and Wind Call were just waiting to be told to leave, then finally, the day came.

"Wind Call, Liger," said Ice Blink, the alpha. "You must leave. To help you on your way to finding a new pack or starting one, you may take two wolves that are willing to leave. Liger chose Moon Face, one of the strongest hunters, and Wind Call chose Nook. He stared at her dumfounded, and then looked to Ice Blink for advice.

"Nook," he said. "You are one of my strongest members and dearest friend. If you leave, you can only come back if you are not the alpha. You must never leave a pack when alpha unless you are taken. If you stay, you must take the responsibility of being beta. You have until sunrise to decide."

He lay awake for hours deciding whether to stay or to go. It was by far one of the most difficult decisions he had ever made. At dawn, he had reached a verdict.

"Ice Blink," he whimpered. "I will miss you with all my heart and I will never forget how kind you have been. I have decided to start a new pack." Wind Call rushed to him and nuzzled him like she had ever nuzzled anyone before.

During May, Nook and Wind Call had their first litter of pups. There were four and they all had a unique and original personality, and on June first, Liger and Moon Face had a litter of seven pups. They all grew to have golden eyes. All but one of Nook's female pups. Her eyes were blue, but not a bright blue like her mother's, but pale blue like Nook's. In fact, she grew to look exactly like him except a white star on the middle of her muzzle. Her name turned out to be Nanook.

By: ©Shelby Floth

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