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Cassie & The Colonel

The harsh breath greeted Cassie every morning the same way. Full of energy and life, the Colonel was always ready for adventure. At sunrise, The Colonel’s bark filled the room. Cassie pulled the cover over her head, wanting to escape the annoying vibrance of The Colonel. Cassie had The Colonel since she was about 11 years old. She had gotten him as a birthday present.

Ever since middle school, The Colonel and Cassie were inseparable. During school, Cassie would daydream about how she’d rub and hold her new pet. All the wonderful games they'd play, and trouble they'd get into.

“Earth to Cassie!” The teachers usually had to remind Cassie of what planet she was on.

Days at the park playing fetch gave Cassie much joy. The Colonel wagged in agreeance.

As Cassie grew older, so did her best friend.

Tug-o-war quickly became their favorite sport. The golden brown Retriever was always by Cassie’s side.

At night The Colonel would climb onto Cassie’s bed licking her friend's cheekbones.

Though The Colonel didn’t speak English, She always knew how to bark the right message.

As Cassie settled into High school, she faded into new routines.

The days were long, and the nights were filled with schoolwork.

“Not now, Colonel!” Cassie would bark, stressed from the pressures of quizzes and research papers.

The Colonel knew exactly how to bring her joy.

She’d whimper away with her ears and tail drooped low.

“What’s wrong, girl?” Cassie would ask.

Three barks would get her a treat, two would mean get the leash, and one would always follow with a hug. The Colonel and Cassie understood each other well.

Barking twice, and wagging her tail, The Colonel was ready.

“I got work to do. We’ll go for a walk after.” Cassie Promised.

Cassie always kept her promise to The Colonel.

Cassie and her family lived in a small community close to the woods. The view was majestic. Tons of squirrels for The Colonel to chase was the cherry on top.

Cassie's parents often warned her about her night walks with Colonel.

“Be careful, Cassie!” Mom would always remind her.

“Stay off the trail!” Dad would shout.

“Sure!” Cassie snapped.

With her headphones blasting some relaxing tunes, Something in the thick of the trees caught Cassie’s eye.

“Woof!” Colonel barked. The Colonel could sense the danger ahead.

Tugging at the leash, The Colonel pulled Cassie away from the threats lurking in the darkness.

Nudging at her pants, Cassie began to backpedal.

“What’s wrong, Colonel?” Cassie finally got the hint.

The Colonel stood on her hind legs and started kissing Cassie.

“Okay, okay.. we can head home.” Cassie smiled.

Cassie awoke the next morning to her parents blaming The Colonel for knocking over the garbage.

“Bad girl, stay outta the trash. You gonna bring germs into the house! Out!” Dad yelled.

Sitting in front of the house, The Colonel would not take her eyes off the path.

“It’s okay girl, my parents are lame!” Cassie joked, rubbing The Colonel’s beautiful fur.

Tossing a treat at The Colonel, Cassie made her way to school.

The Colonel would lay flat on the front porch, waiting for Cassie’s return.

Today, Cassie decided to take a long way. The scenic route might give her more time to figure out how to tell her teacher she didn’t finish her homework last night.

“How am I gonna explain missing another due date?” Cassie thought aloud.

Back home, The Colonel could sense something. Perking her ears up, The Colonel scanned for Cassie’s voice. Nothing!

The sound of the lake flowing by and the ruffling of the leaves beneath her feet gave Cassie a sense of relief.

Then suddenly, the hair on her neck stood up. Cassie felt as if someone was watching her.

The cover of the trees made it difficult to locate the direction of this feeling.

Unable to avoid the mood lurking over her shoulder, Cassie shouted, “Hello!”

With no response, Cassie continued to school.

“So you have missed another assignment, Cassie. Do I have to contact your parents?” The English teacher asked.

“No.” Cassie sighed.

“If you are having trouble with your work, feel free to stay for after-school tutoring.” The English teacher suggested.

Just nodding in shame, Cassie continued with her schedule.

Laughing and joking with friends was always a way to get her mind off the stress of school.

“What are you doing this weekend?” Asked one of Cassie’s friends.

“Well, my dad wants to go visit some family. I don’t know.” Cassie shrugged.

The last bell of the day rang, and the children exited the building loudly and playfully.

Excited to go home and play with The Colonel, Cassie said bye to her friends.

Cassie knew the English teacher would call home about missing work, so she decided on the scenic route back home.

Wringing her hands, Cassie had to think of an excuse quickly before dinner. Mom and Dad always asked how her day was, but Cassie knew they only wanted good news.

Often looking to avoid the conversation, Cassie would say everything is fine and quickly change the subject.

Passing by the lake, she felt the urge to skip stones across the water.

Avoiding home for as long as possible didn’t seem like a bad idea.

The Colonel hadn’t moved all day except to lift her head and watch the squirrels scurry along, looking for nuts to hide. She yawned a couple of times, but she didn’t move a single inch. Waiting on Cassie all day to return from school was worth it.

The Colonel noticed Cassie was taking a little longer than usual.

The shadows on the ground had grown.

Standing to her feet, The Colonel raised her ears to listen for her best friend. Nothing!

Slowly, The Colonel paced back and forth as if she knew something was wrong. Whining and whimpering, The Colonel barked three times. No response.

Nervously, The Colonel continued back and forth on the porch whining for her best friend.

The Colonel decided to leave the porch and find her best friend.

Sitting by the lake counting the ripples in the water, Cassie was in no hurry, “One, two, three.”

Holding one of the smoothest rocks she could find, Cassie wondered how the rocks ended up this way.

Staring out at the lake, the sound of crushed branches caught her attention.

“Hello?” Cassie shouted nervously.

As the day grew old, The Colonel began to make her way to the main road. As she slowly galloped up the street, she picked up Cassie’s scent. Stopping in her tracks, The Colonel looked towards the walking path going into the woods.

Barking with a ferocious tone, The Colonel worried about her best friend. Looking back toward the house, she barked once more. The Colonel bolted down the walking trail when she didn’t hear Cassie’s voice.

As Cassie turned back to toss her last rock, the same feeling snuck up on her. The hair on her neck stiffened up. Just as she let go of the rock, a jolt of energy shot down her spine. Sensing someone behind her, Cassie wiped around to a horrifying scene. A 10-foot-tall grizzly bear walking on his hind legs.

“Ahh!” Cassie let out a huge cry.

Fearing for her life, Cassie had no idea of what to do. The lake at her back and a vicious predator approaching.

Tossing rocks at the bear only made it angry.

Growling with the force of a freight train, the grizzly kept advancing.

Cassie had never been face to face with such a threat. She continued to scream.

The bear was now close enough to sniff Cassie’s leftovers in her lunchbox.

Going in for the kill, the grizzly went to swipe at Cassie. Cassie's eyes grew wide with fear.

Then suddenly, The Colonel out of nowhere launched into attack.

Biting the bear’s arm, The Colonel had saved Cassie, for the moment.

The bear growled in anguish, turning his attention toward the smaller opponent.

Barking with fierceness, and courage, The Colonel made her way between Cassie and the bear.

The bear made several attempts to attack Cassie and every time The Colonel stood her ground with every inch of being.

Swiping one more time, The bear landed a blow. The Colonel was wounded.

Bleeding and injured The Colonel returned a blow. Biting the bear's hind legs, Cassie stood still in amazement.

Looking for a way to help, Cassie searched for the biggest rock she could find. As The grizzly and The Colonel growled and barked at each other, Cassie tossed the huge stone.

Hitting the bear in the back of its head, Cassie had scared the grizzly away.

Making her way to The Colonel, Cassie noticed she was badly injured. First, she covered the claw marks with her red handkerchief. Then, she Carried The Colonel back to the house screaming for help all the way. Cassie parent's heard the cries. After seeing the injuries to The Colonel, they called for help.

As animal control made their way to save The Colonel, Cassie cried blaming herself as her parents comforted her.

After a few weeks had passed, and The Colonel had healed. Cassie still felt horrible.

Every morning as The Colonel greeted Cassie with her harsh breath, Cassie smiled.

Every day since, The Colonel walked Cassie to the main road to protect her from the grizzly bear lurking in the woods.

As they reached the main road, Cassie would give The Colonel a big hug and kiss. As Cassie walked away, The Colonel waited there all day. Once Cassie returned from school, they'd walk back home together.

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