Posse
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15 T he minute I saw her I knew she was what I’d been waiting for, and waiting for a long time! She wagged her tail for us, squirming around making funny little noises. Her coat was soft fuzzy gray and white. Her paws were awfully big for a puppy; Daddy said that was a sign she’d grow up to be a big dog. She looked like she was wearing a mask-black all around light blue eyes. Daddy paid the man some money. He put her into my arms. I hugged her; she grunted and squealed, snuggled her nose under my arm, and I knew she was all mine. On the way home I looked at her the whole time, trying to think of the perfect name for her. The black mask made me think of the Lone Ranger. Maybe that was it-Lone Ranger. I couldn’t call a girl Lone Ranger. Robbers? Posses? That was it! I’d call her Posse. Posse was a husky. Huskies like the cold-like in Alaska. But we lived in West Texas, where it gets so hot the asphalt bubbles Posse 16 Tails on the Hill in the summertime. I guess that’s why Posse never had a thick coat of fur. She certainly didn’t look like the pictures I’d seen of huskies pulling sleds up at the North Pole. In fact, she was sort of bald in spots and her coat got slicker instead of fluffier. Since she didn’t have polar bears to chase or chunks of ice to float on, she swam in tanks to keep cool, or she’d gather up the other dogs on the Hill to chase cattle. Maybe I should have called her something elseAnnie , or Tammy, or somebody nice so maybe she’d act nicer. I believe dogs kinda act like their names sometimes. But it was too late to change anything. She was hardheaded and did what she wanted to do when SHE wanted to do it! Oh she’d mind me if I had a goodie for her or if I got real mad and hollered “POSSSSEEEE!” The farmers and ranchers all knew her and knew who to call when Posse and her friends chased their cattle. When Daddy’d hang up the phone after one of those calls, he’d grab her by the neck and run her into the dog yard just fussin’ and threatenin’ all kinds of bad things would happen to her if she didn’t “straighten out” and behave herself. Posse didn’t bark like a dog; she’d start off with a low moan that seemed to come from way down, and by the time it got out it was more like croaking and gargling at the same time. After a whole night of that, Daddy would stomp out the next morning and tell her he’d let her out if she’d act right. She wouldn’t even slow down as she ran past him through the gate-never said thank you or anything-just left him standing there with his hands on his hips shaking his head. One evening Posse didn’t show up for supper. I checked her pan before I went to bed but she had not come home even to eat. That night and lots of nights after, whenever I’d wake up, I’d go to the balcony and call and call, as loud as I could, “Pos-s-s-ee . . . Pos-s-s-ee!” She should have heard it miles away because everything was so still and quiet. I looked as hard as I could through the shadows of the mesquites and the streaks of moonlight for something to move. Nothing. Some farmer or rancher had shot her, and I’d never see her again. Late one night something woke me up. Sounds like things 17 Posse shuffling around on the porch-throaty soft cries that could only belong to Posse! I threw back the covers and dashed for the light switch, but Daddy had beaten me to it. There stood Posse! She was making her funny sounds and swishing her tail and squirming and smiling. I hugged her and hugged her. She licked my face. “Oh, Posse! Where have you been? What have you been doing? Why have you stayed gone so long? Why didn’t you come when I called you?” She kept licking and nuzzling and then . . . I saw HIM! Standing...


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