It was a glorious winter's day on the highveld. The sky was azure blue, the veld gold and crisp, and a cool wind kept our Fawn Maiden comfortable as she napped in the bright sunshine. All was peaceful. Except...
Her ear twitched. The wind carried sounds of an argument towards her.
"You're wrong! Small and agile is the best!"
"No, little one, it is you that are wrong. It is by far better to be big and strong."
The Fawn Maiden yawns as she opens her eyes.
"O, really? That big body could never keep up with me!"
"Yes, really! You may get there first, but those tiny teeth could never crush a bone!"
In front of her basking spot, her two friends stood arguing.
The Dusky Lady snapped: "well, come over here, and I'll show you tiny teeth!", to which the Loping Gent replied: "Ha! You could only nibble at my ankles!"
"Good morning!" said the Fawn Maiden.
Both black dogs turn to her with a start. They were so absorbed in their argument that they did not see her sleeping there.
"Say, Fawn Maiden, perhaps you can settle this for us?" asked the Loping Gent. "You see, I am convinced that it is better to be big and strong, while the Dusky Lady over here believes it is better to be small and agile. You are clever, and a good judge of character, help us out of this dilemma?"
"Yes, which of us is the better dog?" Asks the Dusky Lady.
"The better dog? My word, what a question. You both have your strengths, you are both excellent dogs!" the Fawn Maiden answered.
"That may be so, Fawn Maiden, but which of us is more excellent than the other?" pressed the Loping Gent.
"If you insist on finding an answer, Loping Gent, perhaps we should hold a contest. That would be more fair than simply relying on my say so."
Both the Dusky Lady and the Loping Gent agreed that that was a splendid idea, and so, the three friends set off to a place to test themselves.
"There will be three contests. The first one," the Fawn Maiden explained "will be a test of speed. Whoever can make it to the top of this cliff first will be declared the winner of the first contest."
"Ha! I've got this one in the bag." said the Loping Gent. "I'll be up there in three big leaps."
The Dusky Lady scoffed. "You'll try, big guy, but those big feet of yours won't find anywhere to grip. Three big flops, right into the dust, more likely!"
The Fawn Maiden nimbly hopped up the cliff, using tiny footholds for small leaps, and larger surfaces for big leaps. She did not go too quickly, but took her time to make sure her footing was stable before she moved on. Once at the top, she told her companions that they may begin, and that she will check to see who makes it up to her first.
True to his word, the Loping Gent ran up to the cliff and made a gigantic leap, trying to get as much height as he can. He used all his might, his muscles first bunched then drawn taught, like a bowstring, as he flew through the air.
The Dusky Lady stormed the cliff, and scrabbled desperately up the sheer face. At his first leap, the Loping Gent was nearly half way up already! She dug in her nails and wiggled her legs and climbed and climbed with all her might. When the Loping Gent gathered himself for his second leap before she had even reached half way she thought all was lost, but he did not look before he leapt, and had nowhere to grip when he landed. His nails screeched as he tried for a foothold, but to no avail. He slid all the way down the cliff until he sat in the dust.
This gave the Dusky lady a chance to get ahead. As she neared the top she heard the Gent leap again, and she knew she had to hurry. In her rush she did not see that what she thought was rock, was in fact a small lizard sunning himself. The suddenly squishy surface under her paw alarmed her and she leapt back, landing just below where the Loping Gent had just landed.
"Ha!" He laughed, "I'll see you at the top!" and he leapt once more, with all his might. But her scrabbling was a better method for scaling cliffs, because as once more the Loping Gent slid to the sand below, she made it to the top.
"The Dusky Lady has won" called the Fawn Maiden loudly, and more softly, so only he would hear, "would you prefer us to climb down to you, Loping Gent?"
He nodded his head and turned away, muttering that there is no reason for a self respecting dog to go climbing cliffs any way.
Together, the Dusky Lady and the Fawn Maiden hopped down the cliff.
"The next challenge will be one of endurance. You will race to the rock stack, North of us, on the other side of the Magalliesberg. It is an hour away, more or less."
"Oh, that suits me just fine!" says the Dusky Lady. "I am fit, strong and in excellent condition, I can easily run all the way there."
"Yes, that's fine by me too. There is no way this little Lady will get there before me! But tell me, Fawn Maiden, how will we be judged?" asked the Gent.
"Do not worry, Loping Gent, I will be at the finish to check who gets there first." answered the Fawn Maiden.
The Dusky Lady asked if she knew a shortcut, that she could so confidently say she'll arrive first.
"Something like that" she said. "Now, there is yet another contest after this one, so we'd best get started."
Fawn Maiden had barely spoken those words when Dusky Lady and Loping Gent set off as fast as their legs could carry them.
Winter is bone dry and the winter sun beats down on the veld without remorse. The direct route, with both the Dusky Lady and the Loping Gent had set off on would be dusty and hot, with no shade and no water. The Fawn Maiden knew this, so she planned her route to the rock stack to go along the river for most of the way. This would allow her to trot in the cool shade, and will let her drink as much water as she would like. She had no shortcut, in fact, her planned route was longer than the direct path. Knowing that the easy route is often faster than the direct route, she set of at a fast but comfortable trot to her destination.
Just about an hour later she saw the rock stack in front of her.
Neither of the other two had arrived yet, as she anticipated. So, she sat down and waited for them.
About half an hour later, two tired, dusty dogs came walking up to where she sat. The Loping Gent collapsed down, and the Dusky Lady put her head on his back for support.
"We made it!" he sighed.
"It was so very hot and dry" she added. "He outran me at first, but I passed him panting in the dust not too long after. Then I had to lie down too, which is where he found me. After that, we traveled together"
"I am glad you are safe, friends" said the Fawn Maiden. "It seems to me this is a tie."
"Agreed!" Said the other two in unison. They were simply too tired to argue.
After a rest, the Fawn Maiden asked if they were ready for the final test.
"We are, I believe" said the Loping Gent, his statement confirmed by a nod from the Dusky Lady.
... continued ...
Last edited by Nina_W; 07-29-2015 at 12:27 PM.
... continued ...
"The final test is a hunt", said the Fawn Maiden. "Whoever catches a guinea fowl first will be the winner".
"I will overpower such a small bird! This is no problem at all." said the Loping Gent, and set off into the veld.
"Ah, what a fool!" the Dusky Maiden said. "You catch prey by agility, not by force!" She too set off to find her prey. Not too much time later, she was stalking up to where the fowls were hunting grubs among the bush willows. Her focus narrowed to a fine point, her whole body waiting for just the right moment to strike.
The time was right, the bird blinded by the slanting sunlight. She leapt, there could be only one conclusion... When suddenly the Loping Gent burst into the clearing, scattering the birds. Squawking they fled away from the two dogs, and in her great frustration the Dusky Lady turned her anger on the Gent. Laughing at her, he ran just quickly enough to keep out of reach of her white teeth.
Soon enough, though, they forgot their quarrel, and resolved to go and hunt in separate areas. Not too much later, the Loping Gent brought a fowl to the Fawn Maiden, followed shortly by the Dusky Lady.
"Well done both of you!" she said. "But, seeing as Loping Gent was back first, he won this contest."
"That's right" he said, and puffed up his chest. "I won!"
"So what's the final result, Fawn Maiden? Who is the best dog?" The Dusky Lady asked.
"It's a tie" the Gent said. "You climbed the cliff faster than me, but I caught a bird before you. We shan't mention that horrible race."
Then, they noticed that the Fawn Maiden was surrounded by guinea fowl feathers.
"Did you catch one?" they asked.
The Fawn Maiden answered yes. "When you chased them up, Loping Gent, they were confused and scared, and not watching where they were landing. I simply had to position myself nearby and wait for it to land near me. I ate it while I was waiting for you two to come back. But yes, it is indeed a tie. You are both the best dogs.
Now, friends, shall we head home?"
On the way home, the Dusky Lady and the Loping Gent looked at each other. Whispering, one asked the other if they also felt a bit like they'd been had. The other agreed. They confronted her. She had in fact done all of the challenges, and finished all of them the fastest!
Laughing, she said that you need not be strong or fast if you are clever!
Last edited by Nina_W; 07-29-2015 at 12:17 PM.
book....book.....book...... Love these stories with the pics! Thank you
~~mary - loved by Colbie the Vizsla Pug, plus many featherpugs! Remembering our heart pugs Bug and Sugar at the Rainbow Bridge with Sissy the Chihuahua Pug
, I was mesmerized and couldn't 'put it down'!
**Patrice - owned by Miss Lola Falana**
Fabulous photo story, so much fun to read. Nina, you are a story teller extraordinaire.
We never touch people so lightly that we don't leave a trace.
Jackie,Mom to Robbie & Stacy my human children and Tinker my furkid.
Wonderful story. You should publish these ,so many great lessons for kids.
I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face...
YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK!!
Your stories and pictures are fantastic. You have a true gift!!
Christine Honorary Pug Parent. Wrangler of Bunny the crazy EP and Maverick the soon to be huge black Labrador. Mom to one human child, wife to a wonderful hubby, and entertained by a couple of fishies.
Forever missing our Bugsy Francis - 04/13/05 - 05/24/17 and Lucy Loo - 10/13/2005 - 12/27/2020.
Wonderful story :)
When I got to "continued" I was thinking, no no no keep going. Than I paged down. What a great story as usual. It was so much fun to read and see the pictures.
Mom to Elvis and Buddy