After working for weeks to loosen a section of fencing in the yard's corner, I wiggled my way through it; I was finally free. I had been in the woods that abutted my house many times, but never by myself; this was going to be awesome! The fall air was crisp and cool, the smell of the woods enveloped my senses, enticing me to go me to venture deeper into the woods. I played a fun game of chase with some squirrels, I even saw a skunk wandering around, but I learned the hard way once that they don't like to play chase. I practiced bayng my best coonhound bay. Baying is an important skill for a coonhound. Mine was getting louder and stronger by the day . The wind had kicked up a bit, blowing some fallen leaves around in the air. Chasing and eating leaves it the best thing ever!
As I trudged deeper into the woods, it became denser, turning the trail into an obstacle course with huge fallen trees blocking my path. Undaunted, I eagerly traversed the rugged terrain. I followed the trail up a hill. As I reached the peak, I noticed the sky had turned dark. With a loud clap of thunder, the sky opened up, it began to rain hard. A small rabbit scurried past me, looking for shelter. My hunting instinct kicked in again, I eagerly pursued, adrenaline coursing through my veins as I chased the rabbit down a narrow, twisting path. I was so engaged in the pursuit that I hadn't noticed how close to the edge this trail ran, or that my front paw had nearly slipped off the path twice. I never saw the patch of mud that caused me to slip and lose my footing, sending me tumbling down the side of the hill, landing forcefully on a bed of rocks. Pain now overtook my young body. I laid there for some time hoping that someone would hear my cries and come to my rescue, no one came. The last thing I wanted to do was move, but it was getting dark and the temperature was dropping rapidly. I knew I had to find shelter. My body trembled and I let out a series of loud yelps as I pulled myself up to standing. I had a few serious gashes and I couldn't put any weight on my back left leg.
I slowly made my way down to the clearing at the bottom of the hill. I thought of my warm bed at home and my family who loved me. I was certain if I could simply find shelter tonight, surely my family would come and find me tomorrow. Off in the distance I saw a red barn. Each step on the way to the barn was agonizing, I nearly collapsed a few times. I finally reached the barn and pawed at the weather-beaten door until it opened with a loud creaking sound. The scent of hay greeted me as I entered. I crawled onto a pile of hay, which gave me some comfort and warmth. Over the next few days, I slept. I would occasionally wake up and try to move, but my entire body ached. I would take inventory of what was around me. The barn was pretty much empty except for a sizeable amount of hay and an owl who kept staring at me and dropping dead mice on my hay bed. I surmised he was trying to feed me. One day I woke up and realized standing up wasn't as painful. I could put some weight on my back leg. I took a few feeble steps. My leg still hurt, but I could walk short distances. I wasn't sure how long I had been in the barn, but judging from the dead mice by my bed, I guessed it had been several days. The owl watched closely as I moved about the barn. I was thirsty and definitely hungry. I decided that I would have a look around to see what I could find.
I made my way outside and I could hear water running in the distance, so I followed the sound. I found a stream and drank the cool water as the warm autumn sun warmed my body. I found a comfortable spot to lie down and rest by the water. The realization that my family didn't know where I was started to sink in. I also realized I wouldn't't find my way back home. Even if I could climb back up the side of the hill, there were so many twists and turns on my journey I was doubtful I would find my way back. I looked up and saw that barn owl watching me from a tree above. In a strange way, I found his presence comforting. I watched as he flew in slow circles above me. I followed him as he flew slowly across the clearing. He always kept me in his gaze, stopping to perch on a nearby branch when I needed to rest. I had a sense that he had somehow been with me throughout my entire journey. I eventually came to a road It wasn't long until a car approached me, pulling over to the side of the road. A man got out speaking softly to me, he leaned down and carefully picked me up I yelped. I don't know if it was because of the pain or just nerves, but I peed on him. He just kept talking to me in a soothing voice, saying I would be okay. He placed me gently in the back seat of his car. I pulled myself up to look out the window, watching the owl following us until he could no longer keep up. I wasn't sure where the man was taking me, but I felt safe. I was exhausted, and drifted off to sleep.
When I woke, I found myself in a small room. The man walked in carrying a bowl of food and some water. It thrilled me. He reached down and took hold of my name tag on my collar “Rogue, huh you sure went rogue, boy”, he said. He carefully took my collar off and left the room, shutting the door behind him. Sometime later he came in, carefully picked me up and carried me out of the room. I wasn't sure where he was taking me. Then I saw them, I couldn't believe my eyes, it was my family! They cried, I cried, It hurt to wiggle my butt as I always did when I was happy, but I couldn't stop myself from doing it. We thanked the man and headed out to the car. Every step hurt, but I didn't care, I was going home. My dad helped me into the back seat and put the window down for me the way he always did. I sat up and stuck my head out the window, thinking about my journey and the owl. Maybe it was silly to think that he had been with me all along, but I was grateful that he had led me to safety. As we pulled into the driveway I spotted the owl in a tree outside of my house. He watched as we made our way to the door I looked up at him as to say thank you and watched as he flew away. Back safely in my house, I quickly headed for my bed, letting out a contented sigh as I laid down, I was finally home.