Our supposedly "gentle, meek and pathetic" dog grabbed ahold of another one's neck and tried to tear it apart right there in our living room. Needless to say the event was terrifying, and the best way to vent was writing it out against my favorite character.
(Before anyone worries, both dogs are fine now, just a little worse for wear.)
Word of Caution: This chapter may be a little heart-wrenching as a certain realistic author had a lot of emotion to vent, so readers who are strong animal lovers may decide they would rather skip to Chapter 2. (This chapter will be summarized, so nothing crucial should be missed.)
Fili was the only one intended to take a puppy home that day. It was his birthday, after all, and the moment he saw the trader selling the floppy eared mini-hunters he begged his uncle to buy him one. Thorin knew that he was asking for trouble, especially as he pointedly ignored the foreboding that he should ask his sister before pampering his nephew with an animal Dis would have to look after, yet one look at Fili's pleading, stricken blue eyes and he could not help but cave in.
The trader was well known, after all, and the cross-breeds were acceptable. Thorin reasoned that it would be advantageous for Fili to learn the responsibility of keeping a pet. In time the pup might even grow up to be an exceptional hunter. Thorin had taken care to ensure its teeth were strong, its paws capable of carrying it over the leagues his nephew would travel in the future, and its coat and ears were healthy and clean. After all, if he intended to risk his life broaching the subject to Dis about of his nephew's sudden aquirement of a puppy, he may as well choose an adequate one.
The problem arose when Kili peered over the edge of the wooden crate and pointed out quite infallibly that he must have one, too. After all, he was going to turn six in half a year, and Fili's puppy would get lonely without another dog to play with, and now Kili would be lonely because Fili would have a friend and he wouldn't, and so it was only right and fair to both Fili and the puppy that he have one, too.
Logic had never been Kili's strong point, but a trembling lower lip and huge, dark eyes welling with tears could shear through any defense. Before Thorin could comprehend that common sense had abandoned him Kili was hugging the scruffiest, mangiest runt to himself and announcing that "Unca Thorin's the bestest, best Unca evah!"
Dis would kill him for sure.
During the long walk back Thorin contrived every excuse possible, from, "I turned my back for one moment and Balin snuck the puppies to the boys," to "Your sons thought they would surprise you with a different breed of rabbit," to "...Kili..." After all, that one word should summarize a multitude of transgressions against his sister's delicate temper. Dis should have known better than to loose her youngest on his unsuspecting uncle. It was a wonder Thorin had the willpower to deny Kili two cats, a viscious stray dog and a pony by the end of the day. How did his sister expect him to say no to one more tiny, insignificant -
"What is that?"
Thorin cringed when the door flew open and Dis caught sight of the wriggling furballs in her sons' arms. Fili and Kili immediately dashed forward, chattering about their newfound pets and interrupting one another repeatedly in their excitement. Dis took the news graciously, holding her hands to the boys' mouths for silence before instructing them quietly to take the dogs inside while she, "Talked to Uncle Thorin."
'At least she allowed the dogs inside,' was Thorin's last redeeming thought before Dis fixed him was a scathing, unforgiving glare. It never ceased to astound Thorin how he could face down Azog and an entire orc army and yet waver at the thought of incurring his sister's wrath. Sensing his impending doom he smiled apologetically and offered,
Kili was beside himself with ecstacy, romping on the bed and squeezing his puppy until it was liable to die of suffocation. The dog was uncannily patient, enduring the young dwarf's rough handling without a fuss. It seemed to enjoy its new playmate's rough housing in fact, yipping excitedly and twisting around to lick Kili's face until he squealed and covered his mouth with his hands.
"I'm gonna calls him Scruffy," Kili announced, "Cause that's what Unca Thorin call-ded him."
"Uncle Thorin didn't mean it was a good thing."
Fili scrunched up his nose and inspected his dog's paws as he had seen Thorin do, not sure what he was looking for but taking into consideration that it must have been important. His dog was sleek and beautiful, with the capabilities of becoming a great hunter as Uncle Thorin had said. Fili could not understand why Kili had chosen that ragged, annoying little yapper instead of a better dog. Still, if it made his little brother happy he was willing to endure the ruckus ... for a little while, at least.
"This shall be 'Zirak,'" he determined, taking note of the pup's mottled silver fur. Any dog would be proud to bear that name, especially one that was destined to become a renowned fighter.
Fili could see himself now, a strong warrior standing on the eve of battle with his majestic hunting wolf at his side. If the evil Pale Orc could have a white dog, then why could he not bring along Zirak? The image was so clear in his mind that he knew their training must begin at once. Kili could treasure his cute little slobbery companion; Fili would own a wolf.
"Kili, the dog stays off the bed."
Both Fili and Kili froze at their mother's voice. Dis apparently had finished lecturing Uncle Thorin until his ears burned for the transgression of bringing two scroungy mutts into her house, and she now stood in the doorway and regarded the fluffy tyrants with silent tension. Kili's chin trembled and he held Scruffy close, as though afraid his new friend would be taken away from him. Releasing a pent up sigh Dis shook her head.
"All right, they can stay. You boys had better be prepared to take care of them, however, because I will not have them tearing apart this house. Fili, you are old enough to take full responsibility for your own pet. Kili..."
Melting puppy dog eyes identical to the wriggling bundle of fur squeezed tightly in her youngest's arms ended the battle Dis knew she never could have won. "Just... try not to roll over onto him, Kili; you might squish him."
"He can stay?" Kili hollered excitedly. "Yippeeee!" He crowed in delight, nearly deafening his brother, and flopped back onto the pillow with his precious puppy cuddled to his face.
"What have I done?" Dis muttered, rubbing a hand over her face. Catching Fili's gaze she silently pleaded, 'Watch out for him.'
He nodded solemnly, the promise unneccessary. He already knew to look after his little brother.
Kili and Scruffy were insepparable, the mangy, obnoxious mutt and Fili's reckless, wild haired brother a perfect match. While Zirak was trained to chase down squirrels and rabbits, Scruffy assisted Kili in raiding the kitchen. If Fili was training his dog to track down a pheasant and return it mostly intact, Kili was teaching Scruffy how to refrain shaking himself off after a swim until he was in range of a hapless victim. (Never Mother, of course. He would never teach his favoritest pet to trample on her generosity.) When Fili studied Khuzdul with Uncle Thorin, it was Scruffy who was the one to sleep at his feet while Zirak roamed the outdoors.
As the years passed, however It became apparent that of the two dogs Kili's was the favorite. Scruffy was gentle and calm, loyal to a fault and affectionate to everyone who crossed his path. Zirak was obedient and predictable, and while she remained distant in her affections it was clear that she was fond of Fili. Over time Thorin recognized the symptoms that she was growing fairly possessive of her young master, to the point where he should have anticipated the following disaster.
Over the weeks Fili had not recognized any change in his behavior, but Zirak had known. Her master began to spend more time with the underdog, curling up in his favorite chair and stroking Scruffy's fur while he studied. There were no more training games between Zirak and Fili, as the snow had cooped them all inside for weeks on end. Instead Scruffy earned all the affection, cuddling up to one child or the other and sighing in quiet content when Fili scratched his ears or Kili curled against him for a nap. Even at mealtimes, when Kili slipped a delicate treat (or an untasty 'despictable') under the table for his dog, Zirak was ignored. Such acts of betrayal were to be tolerated for only so long.
One quiet, ordinary night, Zirak had endured enough. When a tiny hand dropped a mouthful of rabbit under the table for the 'favored one', Zirak struck.
Powerful jaws locked around Scruffy's neck, yelps of fear and pain accompanied by Zirak's murderous growls as the tranquil atmosphere exploded in pandemonium. Kili shrieked as the table leg was splintered, his own chair crashing to the floor as the two dogs collided into him. In moments the entire household was in an uproar, Scruffy wailing and struggling against the iron hold on his neck while Thorin grabbed Zirak's collar and tried to yank her away. Dis began hollering frantically for Kili, pushing past the barreling mass of fur and teeth as her youngest screeched in terror. Fili was lost in panic, uncertain whether to help Thorin separate the snarling wolf hounds or rescue his little brother. Dis and Kili's screams, Scruffy's high pitched keen, Zirak's murderous growls and Thorin's bellowing as he kicked at the larger dog and tried to pry its jaws apart rent into Fili's mind and he clapped his hands over his ears, pleading for everyone to "Stop! Stop!"
Dis had just managed to grab ahold of Kili and was shouting at Thorin to tell her what she should do, when suddenly Kili jerked away from her and ran towards the brawling canines. Before Thorin could bark for him to move back he was grabbing Zirak's maw, screaming at the top of his lungs and kicking at the dog with his small bare feet. In an instant Thorin released the roaring animal and grabbed Kili around the waist, snatching him away and practically throwing him into Dis' arms.
"No! Nooo!" Kili wailed, "That's my dog! That's my dog!"
Candlelight glinted off of metal and there was a sickening 'thunk' beforeZirak gave one final spasm and lay still. Thorin did not move, his axe loosely hanging in his hand as he instructed somberly,
"Dis, get the boys out of here."
Uncannily calm in light of the circumstances, Dis nonetheless released a strangled sob as she grabbed Fili's hand and pulled him into another room, bolting the door firmly behind her. She made it two steps before collapsing onto the bed, clutching her youngest to herself and shaking uncontrollably. Kili broke into hysterical tears, whimpering garbled nonsense and repeating, "My dog, my dog!"
Fili pressed himself against the door, paralized with terror. He could hear Scruffy's agonized whines before the outside door was slammed shut and the cries were eerily silenced. He realized he was hyperventilating then, his breath coming in short, rapid bursts as the violent scene replayed before his eyes. The rabid snarls of the dogs... the fear that Kili would be torn to pieces... the sheen of blood on Thorin's axe...
Dis looked up from her worried assessment of Kili's poor hands, her apprehension that he had been bitten relieved when she saw only a few shallow grazes. The worst of the danger past, she only now seemed to remember her eldest.
"Fili...?" she called softly, her eyes filling with compassion when she saw his traumatized gaze. "Oh, honey. Come here."
Fili fled to her arms, collapsing against her and bursting into silent, heart wrenching sobs. Dis made no attempt to quiet him, stroking his and Kili's hair as droplets of salt water trickled down her own face.
By the time Thorin returned an hour later, his features grave as he nodded once to Dis, both boys had cried themselves out and fallen asleep in her arms. That night an unspoken pact was made between their guardians.
Yes, I did write a tragedy in the animal forum. Don't worry, the next chapter will have a happier outcome.
I do not own The Hobbit or anything associated.