Busted Axle Road
Chapter 82

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Jackie was already in bed, sitting up and reading a book, when she heard the pickup drive in. It was late, and even though it would take a few minutes to get the dogs staked out, she expected that Mark would be in before long.

After a while, she heard Mike's Rabbit start up, and a few seconds later, she heard Mark come in, and come right up the stairs. "How did it go?" she asked.

"Pretty good," he told her as he stopped off at the bedroom door. "Mike's really one happy camper tonight. I'm going to get a shower, then I'm going to be right in."

In a moment, she could hear Mark singing in the shower; in a few minutes, he joined her in bed. "What kept you guys so late?" she asked as she put down her book and turned off the light.

"We figured that as long as we were out at the course, we might as well try running the dogs at night in strange country," Mark said. "It went pretty well."

"What's Mike so happy about?" she said as she slid down in bed and snuggled up next to her husband, resting her head on his shoulder, with his arm around her.

"We ran Ringo in single lead all evening, and George in wheel. About the only thing that went wrong is that Cumulus isn't too crazy about running in swing, so finally, we took out all the older dogs and put them back in the truck, and spent the evening working with just the five Beatle Hounds."

"It went good?"

"It went great," Mark said. "Considering that Ringo doesn't have Cumulus' experience. You don't want to give him a Come Gee or Come Haw, because he'll turn on a dime, and you get the damndest knot of dogs and lines you ever saw, but I think we can train him out of it. He does take commands well, maybe even better than Cumulus, and he's fine on trails, but get him out in the open, and you have to steer him. He's still a little unsure of himself, but that'll come out in time. That was a good idea on Mike's part."

"What was that?"

"Taking Ringo out every evening, and giving him obedience school type training. That dog needs more people contact than other dogs, and the sit and heel and stay and commands like that have given Ringo the confidence to follow instructions, anyway. He's going to make a good leader."

"Is that why Mike is so happy?" Jackie said, rolling a little to put an arm over her husband's chest. She had an activity in mind that didn't involve dogs, but knew that Mark would have to talk his way out of the evening before they could get on with it.

"Because now that we've got two leaders, we can run with two teams," he said. "Before much longer, we want to move the other Beatle Hounds down to Mike's place for the winter. He doesn't want to mess around with buying a snow machine, and is going to try to make do with just the dogs."

"I can just see him driving the dog team to work, and having the dogs staked out in back of the Record-Herald all day," Jackie laughed.

"Well, we're kind of hoping that he won't have to do that much," Mark said. "Those columns he wrote about the Road Commission seem to have gotten their attention."

"Yeah," Jackie said. "It's really nice to have the road graded this time of year. I just hope it lasts."

"Mike said that if it doesn't, he'll run a picture of the dog team tied to parking meters on Main Street, and say it's because the Road Commission can't get off their dead asses," Mark laughed. "That may rattle their chains a bit."

"If we even get plowed out a couple days after a storm, it'll be a big improvement," Jackie said. "They've been real good neighbors. I've enjoyed getting to know Kirsten again. She left Susan with me for a while when she went to town today, and she's a real sweet baby. She's got me to thinking about whether we might want to have one of our own, after all."

Mark squeezed Jackie tighter. "It's like I told you long ago," he said. "It's your decision, and the question we have to ask is whether your concerns are still valid."

"I'm not as worried about them as I once was," Jackie admitted. "The thing is, I'm not getting any younger, and if we're going to do it, we're going to have to do it pretty soon, like maybe the next couple of years."

"If you want to, that's fine with me," Mark reiterated. "But, I agree, I'm not getting any younger, either."

"It's a month before we can even get started," Jackie said. "That'll give us some time to think. We don't even have to do it then. We could take all winter to think about it."

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