Summary: Adam and Hoss surprise Joe.
Word Count: 698
Joe knew this was something that he had to do himself. His Pa and brothers had offered to do it but he couldn’t stand the thought of letting them take care of it. He picked up his load and walked into the woods as the tears streamed down his face.
Two days ago he’d gone out to the barn to find his oldest and best friend dying. Joe had started to cry as he dropped down to his knees beside Justice, his 12 year-old golden retriever dog. Ben had come in to find Joe crying, and when Joe asked if they could go see the vet to see if Justice would get better, Ben didn’t have the heart to refuse.
Ben and Joe had loaded Justice into the buckboard and headed to town. Joe had held the dog on his lap, crying the whole way to town, and he cried even harder when the vet said that there was nothing he could do, that the dog had to be put down. Joe was inconsolable for the next two days as he refused to leave the dog’s side; he was determined that his dog, his best friend, would not be put down. Finally he couldn’t stand to see his dog suffer any more and took him out to the woods.
“You know, boy, I love you so much; there’s been times that you’ve been the only one I can talk to. I’m sorry, boy; I’ll miss you so much.” Joe wiped the tears from his eyes as he stood up and walked a few feet away. He turned back and looked into the trusting brown eyes of his dog, his “mutt”, his “puppy”.
“I’m sorry boy,” Joe whispered one last time as he aimed and fired.
Joe fell to his knees and cried as he thought back over the years to all the good times to all the bad times. He remembered the day that his “puppy” came into his life. His mind flashed to the day that his “mutt” had saved his life from a pack of coyotes. He then thought of the times in the snow when he’d make a snowball, throw it, and he’d laugh as his dog chased after it and then tried to bring it back.
Joe didn’t know how much time passed but by the time he felt hands on his shoulder’s it was dark.
“It’s okay, son,” his Pa said. “He had a good life.”
“I know, Pa. It’s just… I’m going to miss him so much.”
Another hand patted his back. “It’s okay, Joe,” Adam said as he tried to reassure his youngest brother.
“We’ll have to have a funeral for him tomorrow; it’s too late right now.” Hoss said.
Joe smiled weakly at his family. “Thanks that’s just what I needed,” he said.
A Month Later
“Pa do you hear something?” Joe asked as he came down the stairs.
“No, Joe, I don’t. It must be your imagination,” Ben said with a gleam in his eye.
“There it is again. What is that sound?”
“Hey, you’ll spoil the surprise! Get back here, you little…Oh hi, Joe.”
“Hoss, where did you get him!?”
“Well little brother, me an’ Adam… That is, the Carson’s dog had pups an’ we thought you’d like one. So me an’ Adam, we got ya one.”
*Woof, Woof, Slurp*
“He-Hey cut that out!”
“Well son, what are you going to name him?”
Joe thinks real hard. “I think I’ll name him Outlaw.”
Adam raises an eyebrow. “Outlaw?”
“Yep. It’s the exact opposite of Justice, and I want to honor my mutt, as you fellows called him. So Outlaw. how do you like your new name? Outlaw? NO, OUTLAW, DON’T!!”
“Well it looks like Outlaw is living up to his name, huh, Hoss?”
“Yep he sure is, Adam.”
The two brothers watched as the little golden puppy ran around the house followed by Joe, who in turn was followed by Ben, who in turn was followed by Hop Sing, who was wielding a wooden spoon, but that’s another story.