Young Adult Fiction posted April 4, 2012 Chapters:  ...10 11 -12- 13... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
James tells the struggle getting to a Vet

A chapter in the book Whispers in the Wind


by Alaskastory

Brook's heart changes when two of James' dogs are injured by a moose. Many thanks to Logcat for a picture of great dogs.
Snowflakes fall in a curtain limiting our visibility. On a well-packed trail, Brooke and her team lead with a pace that is steady and as smooth as possible to limit the sleds from bouncing too much. Yet, the injured dogs do feel jabs of pain when we hit a bump here and there. Whimpers from Adak bring me tears that I hold back in a tight throat. Good thoughts flash back on times with Adak and Blackie. They both were real sock-em pups that would never wear out and loved to run. It's no wonder they quickly learned to take orders and begged to pull my sled.

Finally, heavily wooded hills flatten into fields that are plowed in the summer. In the distance I spot the barn. Brooke's dogsled heads straight for it. We catch up and pull to a stop beside her team.

"Good, there's Dad's truck," she calls. "Go ahead and load Adak and Blackie." Brooke anchors her sled and team to a gate post then she races toward the big farmhouse.

I pull my dogs over to a tractor and tie them there. Not one dog barks. It's as if they want us to keep our attention on their injured buddies. With Adak tightly wrapped in a blanket, I place her inside the kennel on the back of Donald Malden's pickup. Then I do the same with Blackie. I brush hay around them and gently rub bits of snow off their heads.

"There you go. I'm sure the vet will get you all fixed up."

They answer in stressful dog breath scented with hours-old fish scraps. Their pleading eyes look weary under drooping lids. Blackie lets out a whine that makes me almost feel his pain. I force myself away as I hear Brooke and her dad thump down the porch steps.

"Hey, James, sorry to hear your team had a run-in with a mother moose." Donald gives my back a pat like a coach offering encouragement. He and I climb into the truck, but not Brooke.

"I'll start bedding down both teams till you get back to help me, Dad." I see her through a solid vale of falling snow. She waves us on.

It's a short drive to the clinic that seems long on a slippery, slush-covered highway. Donald helps me carry the dogs into an examination room. Before he leaves me sitting in a crowded waiting room, I manage to thank him for helping Brooke bed down and feed the teams. Waiting to hear the fate of Blackie and Adak, I sweat it out with meowing cats, growling dogs, and a squawking parrot.

"James Samuelson," calls a nurse uniformed in pale green pants and shirt.
I jump up with a nod.

"Dr. Ross is ready to speak with you about your injured dogs."

I follow her to a tiny room where she closes the door, leaving me alone to look at dog and cat photos covering the four walls. A pedigree chart of different breeds illustrates tiny, fluffy dogs and big, strong workers. Growls and whimpers ring in my ears and send a chill through my bones. Finally, the door swings open.

"Hello there, James." The doctor has a pigtail hanging past his shoulders and a scruffy beard. "Both your dogs are going to recover. In time, they'll be fine."

Relief loosens my throat. "That's good news, Doc."

He instructs me on how to give both dogs a restful life with no running for a few weeks. He hands me some pills to keep Blackie calm while his ribs heal and ointment for bloody gashes stitched together on Adak's legs.

"You're lucky the moose's hooves missed their skulls and vital organs." The doctor has long, skinny fingers that delve into the misery of animal bodies. He turns back towards the sounds of creature complaints. "You can carry both dogs home now."

"Okay, fine." Not a word of thanks escapes me as he vanishes and my cell phone starts to vibrate. With a fumble I manage to hear the music of Brooke Anne's voice.

"Your dad got back from the dentist and just left to go pick you up. James, how are the dogs doing?"

"Surviving, and ready to take it easy for a while."

"Auntie Maggie insists that Blackie and Adak stay in her barn. The beds in your pickup aren't warm enough for them."

"That's great for a couple of days. I figure Dad and I'll drive back to Denaaka early since the race is over for me."

Sound from the phone is dead for a moment. "Brooke, are you there?"

"Ah, yes. When you get here, we'll talk about it." She hangs up.

Out to the waiting room, the sound of Brooke's voice rolls over me like an avalanche. I feel really ready to talk with her. This time I vow to take back every mean word I ever said to her. There were times I'd harassed her, especially that day I was a real jerk about Shemya's deafness. I didn't mean to hurt her, just bug her a little about the race. Then, that turned out to be the very day he saved her life.

The black hood on Dad's Titan pickup appears in the window. He bursts in the door and pours out questions. I give him answers about the dogs' injuries.

"That's rough news, son." He puts arms around my shoulders, squeezes, and the tears of a little kid fill my eyes.

With quick fingers I wipe my cheeks, and choke out, "I guess we might as well drive back home tomorrow."

Dad answers me with a sad bob of his head. I turn away to grab my coat and he steps to the counter to settle the bill.

A strong male attendant enters carrying big Blackie and I show him out to the truck. I'm glad it stopped snowing so the limp dog stays dry and remains in a doped-up sleep. Next he brings out wide-awake Adak, with legs bandaged up. I give her a firm petting and order her to settle down. Luckily she obeys, and we are able to get on our way.

As we drive, I give Dad more details of the moose attack, and tell him Brooke carried one dog in her sled and we followed her team all the way to her Aunt's barn.

"James, I'd say that sweet little gal, Brooke Anne, is an awesome dog musher who sure did you a big favor today."

On a snow-covered hillside a vision of her looms before me. A pretty face framed by black hair flying against a wolf ruff trickles a sensation through me. I see her in a hard-driving sled sweep over a slope and head straight to my rescue. No doubt that girl radiated into action because she was in total sympathy for my hurt dogs.

"She did a whole lot," I say, but don't tell Dad about the vision of her burning deep in my mind. When she took the lead over me, she gave me hope for my dogs.


Both teenagers, Brook and James train dogs for the North American Junior Championship Race. In preceding chapters, Brook is saved from a bear by her lead dog Shemya that is deaf from an earlier accident. James saves her uncle from an ice breakthrough on the Yukon River. All chapters have been edited and revised from previous posts. Each chapter is first person told by either Brook or James.

Brook Ann Malden
Earl Solomon, her uncle
Donald Malden, her father
Bea Malden, her mother
James Samuelson
Fred Samuelson, his father
Walter Evans, his best friend
Suzie Ivanoff, her best friend
Herman, Suzie's dad
Elsie, Suzie's mom
Maggie, Brook's aunt
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