Matilda barked at her brother to take Tilly home.
The litter of pups was fearful of Tilly's yapping.
"But I want to see them too," Rory protested.
"You will. You are quicker than me. I promise to not touch them until you are back."
He wiped a tear before it could run down his face. "Okay, but don't go near them."
She watched Tilly's neck snap away from the litter. It was funny how the moment she saw Rory doing something funner; she forgot about the strange wriggling little puppies.
Their heads looked too big for their skinny bodies. Folds of fur curled up, waiting for the insides to grow.
Matilda crept beneath the bush and counted as best she could. Six. The puppies knew someone was there and were jumping all over each other in excitement. They weren't looking at her, and she wondered if they were blind. Perhaps they could smell her and that was enough.
She felt it before she heard it, a low growl. Matilda turned her head to see behind her and could see the mother dog. Her teeth were stained yellow and brown, and spit was bubbling with each growl.
Matilda edged back, but the dog's growls turned into snapping barks. She feared the dog would bite her bum. There was no way out, not when the mother was right behind her.
Suddenly the dog yelped.
"Go, get," Rory screamed. Another rock hit the mother dog. Her cries followed the thwack of sinewy muscles.
Matilda backed out of the bushes and stood up.
The mother dog lept into the bush to be with her pups.
"You promised," Rory said. "You promised."