I woke and looked over at the wounded wolf and huffed - she was still alive. I didn't realize I had fallen asleep at the far wall of the cave; I must have been pacing and sat down for a minute and that was when I fell asleep. I walked over to her and she seemed somewhat happy to see me. She raised her head and whimpered. I cocked my head and touched my nose to hers, she then laid back down and slept once again. I snorted, great I had just joined up with another misfit wolf. Oh well, it was done now. It was time to hunt as the female would need more food to help her heal. I headed out of the cave, into a bright sunny day with strong winds. It would be the perfect day to hunt. I didn't want to go far and leave the female, whom I had now named Gash, for too long, but as I was sniffing around, I picked up on a scent. Wolves! A small pack, maybe three. They had covered their tracks fairly well, but I could still track them. I had to find them and see if these wolves posed a threat to me or Gash.
The scent seemed familiar, but I couldn't put my paw on it. I followed the smell for a long time and as I went along it got stronger, as it seemed they weren't trying to hide their smell anymore. I stopped, raised my head and let out a loud howl claiming this area as mine, while at the same time conveying that I was a large female that didn't like intruders. After a short time I got a reply that shocked the hell out of me. It was them. My pack. I stood there shaking, not knowing what to do and then out of the bushes bounded four, not three wolves. Tank, Nurse and Scar all ran at me, pounced on me and nipped and yapped at me with huge excitement. The other wolf with them wasn't so sure of himself and walked up to me slowly. This young male was black and grey and a little shaggy. I looked at the others who were watching me carefully. I sniffed the male and growled. He stiffened, then dropped to the ground and put his paws over his nose, shaking. I whimpered and touched my nose to his and snorted. Typical... another stray... but in the long run I thought it could work to our advantage, as more of us meant better food and a stronger pack meant we could protect ourselves and survive longer.
Nurse was the first to notice my tail or lack there of. She sniffed the stub that was slowly growing back and licked it and whined. I flipped my ears back and gave a warning growl. She soon backed off. My tail was still tender, but I figured there would not be any permanent damage. Tank was next to sniff me and then suddenly he growled at me. I didn't like that and nipped him hard on the neck, so he to backed down. I didn't know why I was acting all high and mighty with my pack, but being sniffed and growled at wasn't the reunion I had envisioned. My stomach grumbled and then I remembered why I was out here in the first place, I turned on my shortened tail and ran off. I didn't have to worry as I heard my pack following me, even the shaggy one followed as if he had been with us since birth. I returned to the cave I had left Gash in and waited to see what the others would do. Nurse was the first to investigate and after a few sniffs and warning growls, she sat herself right beside Gash just as I thought she would, hence her name. After everyone rubbed noses with everyone else, it was a done deal. We were a pack of six now, a force to be respected.
Shaggy, I had named the newest member, had sat himself at the entrance of the cave and watched outside. Any movement outside, his ears and tail would swish and he would give a growl, a little warning to anything that might happen to be out there. I snorted again, yapped at Tank and Scar and bounced around twice, it was time to hunt. They both pricked up their ears, as did the other three members of our pack. Nurse cleaned and whimpered softly to Gash while Shaggy stood watch. This was good, everyone was finding their place within our pack. It was time to go. Tank, Scar and I all left the cave with ears high and tails down, we had to be serious and find something to hunt. We had been searching for some time when Scar pricked up his ears, I came to him instantly and found the scent he had found. It was a deer. A stag. This was good, I gave Scar a quick lick on the side of the mouth to reward him for such a find and then the hunt was on.
We tracked the stag to a small bushed spot. The stag was large, but old and battle worn. It would be an easy hunt and would feed us well. It didn't take us long to bring the old boy down and he didn't put up a fight, I guess he knew his time was up and was just glad it was finally over. We all took a leg in our mouths and started to drag the dead deer back to the cave. It took forever to do as it was so large, but slowly we managed. The three of us were so sore and tired by the time we got back to the cave. Once at the cave, Nurse and Shaggy helped us drag it inside. Once again the others waited on me to start, I started with a hind leg but instead of eating I chewed away the flesh until the leg come apart from the rest of the body. With what strength I had left I dragged the leg to Gash, left it in front of her, returned to the deer and began to eat. After we had all eaten our fill, we dragged the rest into the far cool end of the cave. We were all sore and tired, yawning and were in need of much needed sleep. We all snuggled down around Gash, all but Shaggy and Scar who both stayed near the front of the cave keeping an eye out for anything that may wish to harm our little family.
We all took turns keeping an eye out for danger, well expect Gash. No one expected much from Gash, although she did try her best to get up a few times, but Nurse wouldn't have it and growled at her until she laid down again. The first few times Gash got up she ripped open her wound again, which angered Nurse a lot. As the days went by, Nurse came around and her mood improved. Nurse finally allowed Gash to sit up and stand for a little while each day until she could do it without ripping open her healing wound. The weather had started to turn cold again, which meant winter was nearly upon us. I was suddenly sad because this wasn't our home and once Gash was able to travel, we were all going home. The cave was a nice place to spend a few weeks - even months - but it would never be home. I wanted to get home so bad, but not without Gash, I guess it wouldn't be home without every member of our pack. I was thinking about appointing Tank our leader since we needed one and the leader had to be a male, but I wasn't sure I could bow down to another wolf. I guess I would have to think on it as everyone seemed to follow me, I guess I would be a temporary leader until a suitable male could be found or Tank stepped up.
A few more days went past and I gave Tank many opportunity to take over hunts, but he never took the lead, so I guess that meant I would have to find an outsider male, a rouge. I would have to have my eyes and ears open and hope that I could find the wolf we needed. Also, I felt a stronger urge to mate and have pups, and I would need to be accepted by the alpha male to be given the right to have young. Sheesh! The laws of nature were nasty and so sexist and it wasn't fair. I really wish I could change things, but it's not how the world worked, I guess. Needless to say, I didn't like it and it affected my mood with the others. Everyone was on edge and so I started sleeping apart from them as I knew I was about to come into heat again and suitors would be coming for me as I was a strong female. I also needed to find a strong male that could lead our pack, so not just any wolf could mate with me, I would have to find the best. This winter was going to bad and we had to decide weather to hunker down here and hope for the best or risk everything and everyone to get home.
I decided that we were going to do our best to get home. I rearranged the group, I put Gash behind Tank and before Nurse. That would ensure she didn't fall behind. She was healing nicely and once at full strength, I knew she would pull more then her weight within the pack and maybe even try and take me on, even if I found a mate. I would have to keep my eye on her, but then again, I could be worrying about nothing. Nonetheless I wanted to go home and I would leave first thing in the morning whether the others followed me or not. Since I wasn't an actual alpha I guess they could do whatever they wanted and I would have to be fine with that. But if they did all leave me, I would be lonely once more and that I wasn't happy with, but I guess I would just have to find myself a male and maybe start a new pack. Thing was I liked the pack I was in now. I guess everything would sort itself out in the end and I would have to accept whatever happened. Good or bad.