Waffles sped up, with me, Dichall, and Gretchen on his back.
I poked my head up over the fur and kept a lookout behind us. One of the humans ran
back into the truck and followed in it, while the other ran in the snow after us, his catch pole stretched out in front of him.
Dichall was watching the front. “There’s an ice patch ahead! There, on the sidewalk!”
Waffles kept running. “So what?”
“Turn immediately after you go over it!”
Waffles went low and slid across the icy patch, then scrambled back to his feet and made
a sharp left into an alley.
The animal control worker tried to turn, too, just as his feet stepped on the ice. Dichall’s
plan worked. The man’s feet slipped out from under him, and he landed hard on his back with a thump and an “ooof!”, and slid a meter on his keister.
But the alley was a dead end. Waffles spun around and leaped over the fallen animal
control worker, who interrupted his attempt to get to a standing position to try to catch the
Pomeranian in the air with the loop of his catch pole. But it all happened too fast, and he missed.
Waffles ran across the street in front of the animal control truck. It braked, hard, but
Waffles had no time to get around it.
He went on his belly, and we all screamed and ducked down as far into his fur as we
could. I looked up to see the underside of the truck passing over us until it stopped.
Waffles crawled out from under the truck and sped off back the way we’d come and we
managed to lose them.
We circled around, more cautious now, until we got to the shipping yards.
The perimeter of the yard was surrounded by a fence. The front gate opened when a truck
needed to get in or out.
Waffles stopped in a copse of trees and looked at the front gate. “Getting out was easier,
because it was okay that we were seen. Getting in will be more difficult.”
I saw a truck turn off the road and approach the gate. “Look—maybe you can walk
alongside that truck, on the opposite side from the door guard. We could get in without being seen.”
Without a word, Waffles hurried to stand next to the back left truck wheel. We could see
the driver in the rear-view mirror. His attention was on the gate attendant. For now.
The gate opened with a clatter and the truck moved forward. Waffles matched its pace
until we were inside. When we passed a dumpster, he darted behind it.
I peeked around the dumpster and looked at the main building. There was a glass door
leading to a brightly-lit interior. “I can try to sneak in there and listen. Maybe someone will
mention a truck heading to Ottawa.”
Dichall came up beside me. “How about I do it?”
I smiled at him. “You’re worried about our litter again. Don’t worry, I’m not fighting
monsters in there. It’s just a little recon.”
But Dichall wasn’t smiling back. “Please. Let me do this. You’re brave, but it’s not just
your life at stake.”
“This isn’t hard. I can do this. Easily.”
“Yes, it is easy. Any of us can do it. Emerson can even do it. So let me.”
I looked away from him then, out into the snow. I wanted to do it myself, to not let a
pregnancy keep me from doing my job. I wouldn’t even be fighting. I turned back to him to tell
But in his eyes, I could see that he loved and cared for me. I didn’t want to fight about it.
“Okay, you go.”
His eyes sparkled then, and he scampered across the snow toward the door. I didn’t like
being apart from him. I found myself suddenly concerned for his safety. I remembered how I felt when he’d been wounded in the fight with Yonya, and then I understood how he felt about me. I got back into Waffles’s fur and put my paw to my body and considered the litter I would soon have. Dichall cared a lot about me.. how much am I going to worry about my own little ones? I pushed it out of my mind and went back to the warm safety of the dog’s fur.
Gretchen joined me. “I know how he feels. The familiar that a shaman gets… It becomes
a part of her spirit. When I lost Alexander it crushed my heart. I was lost for a while. I’m still getting used to having another. The bond I feel with Emerson is just as strong. I don’t want to put him in danger.”
I sighed and sat back into the fur. “I think I know how you feel. And Dichall. Maybe it
will get easier over time.”
“We have a saying in German: Es wird nicht leichter. Du wirst stärker. It means `It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger.’ He’ll be all right.” Gretchen put a paw on my head and smiled.