As Amy drove down the cow path she heard the rustle of dry grass. On a bluff she stopped the Suburban and looked across the parched land. She saw Jake’s truck, on the tail gate stood a blue heeler named Bob. As a cow dog he would never live the coddled life of a family pet. Close by mending a fence was Jake, the ranch’s head foreman and her husband’s best friend.
Amy and her husband, Jim, were high school sweethearts. After graduation they married and moved to his family ranch. Being a country girl she grew up around horses. Jim taught her everything he knew about ranching. While attending college she earned a degree in business management. They worked the ranch into a growing business with plans to start a family. The day of the accident their dreams ended.
Amy drove back to take care of the horses. After cleaning out the stables her blond hair was soaked in sweat. Needing a shower she hurried toward the house when Jake drove up.
With his strong build came a gentle cowboy way. He said, “I need to go over a few things.”
On the porch Bob drank out of his water dish. When Amy reached down to pat the dog, Jake gave her a disapproving look.
“While I take a shower you can grill us a couple of hamburgers. We can talk over supper."
After her shower Amy went to the porch to find Jake grilling hamburgers. With those blue eyes he had to have broken a few hearts.
Jake flipped the hamburgers. “Almost done, want blue cheese on yours?”
After supper, while Jake washed the dishes Amy dried. “I drove out to the south pasture, it’s not good.”
“This keeps up we’ll have to sell some of the cattle. My first year here at the ranch Jim had to sell cattle cause of a drought. ” Jake’s eyes filled with sadness.
“You two were more than boyhood friends.” Amy fought back her tears.
“When the bull threw his head into Jim it didn’t look that bad. I saw him take harder hits”
At twenty-five Amy found herself a widow. The cause of death was a broken rib driven into Jim’s heart.
As thunder sounded in the distance, Jake dried his hands and walked out to the porch, Amy followed. They stared into the dark night to see lightening. The phone rang she hurried into the kitchen to answer it. “Jake’s here, want to talk to him? Okay, I’ll tell him.”
She found Jake standing behind her. “Hank said lightening struck a tree. Fire’s headed toward your place. The fire fighters arrived but he could still use some help.”
“Cap’s in the corral, I have to get him out of there.” The chestnut quarter horse use to be Jim’s. Now the stallion belonged to Jake.
“I can take care of Cap.”
“Thanks Amy. I’ll leave Bob here.” Jake hurried out the door.
Amy shut Bob in the house and drove over to Jake’s. Under tall pine trees sat his home, a camping trailer. Through the trees she saw a blazing fire. As she led Cap out of the corral, a smoldering tree fell across the hood of the Suburban. Grabbing a handful of mane she swung up on the horse’s back. As Cap raced from the fire, hot ashes dropped down on them.
Back at the house Amy hurried Cap into the barn. She went to get Bob to put him in with the horses. He ran out the door disappearing into the gray smoke. Hooking the garden hose to the outside faucet she leaned a ladder against the side of the barn. Dragging the hose behind her, she climbed to the roof and started spraying water. She glanced over to see hot ashes landing on the roof of the house. Feeling an arm around her, she turned to see Jake. Down below she saw fire fighters and cowboys fighting the fire. No one noticed the rain until it turned into a down pour.
Jake and Amy sat on the porch swing watching the rain. With sadness she said, “Bob ran off.”
“During the fire I saw him herding the cows to a nearby pond. Bob’s not a pampered pooch, he’s a cow dog. He’ll show up.”
Out of a blue smoky haze Bob trotted toward the house. As he panted his tongue hung off to one side. Covered in black soot he laid down on the porch.
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