Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Sydney Stevens

Chapter One
It is now June 15, 1862. Apparently, my breed of dog is in high demand. At least, that’s what my trainer says. I am a Labrador Retriever, and let me just say that my nose is high up there on the best smelling dogs list. Oh. That’s not what I meant. All I mean is that I have a very good nose. Although, I’m not gonna lie, I do smell pretty good. I don’t like baths, but once you get over the splashy water part, I smell fantastic in the end. Smell that, right there. That’s mountain breeze!
Anyway, my name is Choco because of my nice brown fur. What am I trained for, you ask? Well, I am trained to smell people. Yeah, you heard me right: people. I’m not so sure why, but it’s really easy to do once you know the scent. Humans get dogs to track things down for them because I hear that humans’ sense of smell is really poor. That always makes me sad when I think about it because humans must be so lost.
I still remember my first test in dog school. My trainer, John Miller, made me smell a belonging of someone’s. After I got the smell, John would tell me to find the scent. It was so far away! I chased after it with my nose guiding me. After some searching, I found the scent nestled in a cluster of trees. Hello! It was a person. Huh. 
So I basically do that all day, and I get rewarded with treats. That’s just how it works. I’m not exactly sure why I have to do this, but I’m just here to please the master and get those treats! If I do well, I get some pieces of chicken or a beef shank bone!
This morning, I stretch as the trainer gets my rope ready. Huh, I normally don’t use the rope. He ties it around my neck and we go outside. Wait, hey! We’re going somewhere else today. Instead of going to the school, we go to the train station. We drive for a long, long, long, long time. After a while, my trainer announces that we’ve arrived in Virginia, but he must be talking to himself because humans don’t believe that we dogs can understand them. I don’t know where Virginia is, but I’m excited anyway, because I’ve never been anywhere outside of the school. We stop for a while to stretch, and the trainer gets some human food. He tosses a few bites to me. Mmm! Tasty! It’s not a beef bone, but it’s still delicious. I was starting to get peckish, too.
After I finish my food, I start to wonder where we are going. I curl up in the seat and fall into a gentle snooze. 
Some bump wakes me up much later. Now we are in a different part of town. Hmm. There isn’t much of anything anywhere but there are lots of green fields. 
The train slows to a stop and John stands up and stretches. I get off of the chair and follow him. We go off of the train and walk outside where I see a gruff man. John walks up to him and starts talking in muted tones. Then, we follow him to his buggy and get on.
After another long drive, we finally stop. I look ahead and I see a large, white building, probably a mansion, and a small, maybe one-roomed house. Next to it is a skinny rectangular outhouse. Then there is another small one-roomed building with lovely smells wafting from it. I have a big hunch that the building has a ton of food inside. There’s also a barn and a silo. And, who could miss the acres of green land? I wonder where we are. 
“OK, Choco. Be good.” My trainer says, although I don’t know why.  “Come, Choco.” He commands. I leap off of the buggy and trot next to him as we make our way to the little farm. I look back and watch the other man untie the horse and lead it to the barn. 
Wow! I’m taking in hundreds of smells here! I sniff some squirrel over by that big twisty tree, and I get a whiff of beaver near a small stream, and- WAIT! Is that a fox I smell? No time to check out the wildlife, as my trainer keeps walking in the opposite direction. I see a tall man in the distance by the white mansion. I keep on trotting, remembering to keep my head held high like I do in my training. This is quite the adventure! Maybe this is some sort of advanced test? Maybe if I pass, I’ll be the best sniffer dog ever! This thought makes me excited, and I lift my head extra high. My trainer doesn’t smile, but I smell pride radiating off of him. I keep my paws up and don’t drag. 
I look again at the mansion in the distance. It is three stories high, with multiple windows, and a wraparound balcony. Underneath the balcony is a wraparound porch and two grand double doors. There were massive pillars and slanted roofs. I squint as the sun reflects off of the gleaming ivory fountain, shooting rays out from every angle. Small red and yellow flowers are planted around the fountain in rings, and a long lawn stretches out in front of it, with mystical trees and topiaries lining the edge. And everything on the mansion is painted a stark white. 
We finally reach to where the tall man was standing. I was glad it took us a while to get to him so I could perfect my trot. I remember to look confident and brilliant, like I was the smartest dog on earth. John stops walking and he starts conversing with the other man. I am a little distracted by the new wave of scents coming my way, since we’re right by the kitchen, but I catch the words ‘sell’, ‘highly trained’, and ‘price’. I perk up my ears and continue to listen. 
“He is a Labrador Retriever. He has a chocolate coat which is why he has the given name Choco, and is one of the best sniffer dogs in our school. Just give him whatever smell you want him to track and he’s set. It can be a piece of clothing, or a sleeping mat, or whatever they have their scent on. Just be sure no one else’s scent is rubbed on it.” My trainer says as he rubs my head.
“And your price?” The man inquires.
“We are willing to give you a discount, so we’ll settle for $200?”
The man grimaces, “That’s a mighty fine price for a dog. I’m not so sure about $200”
“That is the original price we discussed, Mr. McNeil. We’re breaking our backs just to get you to two hundred. Plus, these are very smart dogs.” He says to the man. I puff my chest out a bit.
Mr. McNeil heaves a big sigh, “Alright, then. Two hundred it is.” He grabs something small and rectangular out of his pocket and pulls out thin, green papers. He hands them to my trainer, and John hands the leash to Mr. McNeil. 
I c**k my head to one side. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Maybe I would sniff him and track him down later on. It might be a test for me, after all. I start to sniff his hand, but stop when my trainer glances at me. I don’t think Mr. McNeil even noticed. The two shook hands, and my trainer looks like he was about to be on his way. Wait, what’s happening here? I don’t have time to wonder because a mosquito won’t stop buzzing around my ear. I he lands on me, and I scratch at it. The trainer gives me a stern glance again, and I put my paw down. 
“Good day, Mr. McNeil.” He says. Then he turns around and leaves. 
I sit there quietly for a moment. Then I sneeze. Mr. McNeil looks down at me and shakes his head. “Well, it’s already done now, so there’s no going back. C’mon, now. I gotta show you the farm. You dogs work best when you’re familiarized with the place.” He starts walking to the other buildings, and I struggle to keep up with his long stride. I get to sniff many things. We check out the pond, and I squash the urge to chase some ducks. We walk through the barn, and I relieve myself on the twisty tree (just letting those squirrels know it’s my territory, now).We start to walk to the kitchen, but we end up circling it and going to the small one-roomed house behind it. We go inside, and Mr. McNeil grabs a small white nightgown and thrusts it under my nose with a little unnecessary force. I can tell he doesn’t like the person the nightgown belonged to. I can smell it on him. I start to sniff the nightgown until the scent was burned into my brain. Once I was finish, he gives me another garment to sniff, and another. He again tosses me clothing, this one some tattered jeans. The last thing he gives me is a small cornhusk doll, probably belonging to a baby by the scent of drool and spit-up on it. I could smell that the owners of these things were related. Once we finish, we walk out and go behind the house. Oh! Apparently there are two more houses, both roughly the same size and shape as the first. We go into them and sniff the owners’ personal belongings once more. After I sniff all of the belongings, Mr. McNeil takes me to the side of the mansion where there is a large pen with a few bowls. He unlocks it and lets me in. He points to a small food bowl and another water bowl. With that, he turns and walks away. 
I look behind me and see two other dogs. One is a German Shepherd, and one is a Golden Retriever. 
“Hi. I’m Choco.” I introduce politely.
The German Shepherd swaggers over to me. I instantly sense he is the alpha. 
“Listen here, pipsqueak. I’m in charge and I make the rules here. Rule 1: No coming into my area. And by the way, you’re in it.” He growls menacingly. “From here to there is my space,” he gestures. “From there to there is Mel’s space. And that corner way, way over there is yours.”
I have always been an expert in choosing my battles. I decided that I wanted to live, so I trudge over to my corner. It’s so teeny for heaven’s sake!
“Um, excuse me, Mr. German Shepherd?” I ask meekly. He doesn’t seem to hear me. “Excuse me?” I ask a bit louder. Either he’s ignoring me, or he’s deaf, because he still doesn’t reply. 
“EXCUSE ME?” I shout. I immediately regret it because in a half a second he was on top of me.
“Um, I was just wondering, Mr. German Shepherd, what are we here for?”
The German Shepherd and his crony Mel start cackling.
“First of all, the name’s Russell. Second, we’re here to find people, dimwit!”
I bite my tongue. Of course we are, but why? I ponder it for a moment, but then decide to just sleep.

© 2020 Sydney Stevens

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Added on January 16, 2020
Last Updated on January 16, 2020


Sydney Stevens
Sydney Stevens

Young author in training! Published one book in the past, working on more. I'd like to think everyone would enjoy the stories I'm writing, but the target audience is teens. more..

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