~ Tanya Barton

     The lithe beast crouched low in the tall grass, the muscles of his lean flanks trembling with anticipation.  Only fifty feet away the
loathsome creature that had senselessly plundered his land in recent months rested in the shade of the huge maple.  The beast felt
his heart pounding in his chest as he cautiously moved forward.  Bare instinct was his guide, as he moved in for the kill.  He knew only
that as keeper of the kingdom, it was his responsibility to rid the land of the scourge.  
     Above in the trees, birds sang, unaware of the drama playing out below.  One deadly paw eased forward, then another.  The prey
lifted its head and sniffed the air, its nose twitching with the effort.  Deftly, the beast dropped to the ground, becoming one with his
surroundings.  His ears lay flat against his well-shaped head.  Seconds later, the prey relaxed and rested once again in the cool grass.   
     Now, he thought, now is the time.  With the grace of a trained acrobat, the beast sprang to his feet and leapt through the air toward
the prey.
     “Hunter!” the woman screamed through the window.  “What do you think you’re doing?  You leave those poor squirrels alone!”
     Undeterred, the ferocious defender of the land, king of his domain, streaked across the back yard in pursuit of the bushy tailed grey squirrel.  
     Foolish human female!  Couldn’t she see the safety of the kingdom was at stake here?  As the vile creature dashed up the tree and disappeared into the neighboring yard, the Yorkie barked out a final warning not to return, and then turned back toward his castle.  Head held high, chest puffed with indignation, he proudly marched back to the house and up the steps to the back door.  Once again, the enemy had been vanquished.

Background Information:
     Some years ago when my husband’s aunt was in the final stages on bone cancer, she called and asked if, when the time came, we would be willing to provide a home for her little Yorkie, Hunter.  Of course, we agreed, and when she passed away we made the trip to Tennessee to pick up our new ward.  Hunter proved to be an entertaining little dog who was adorable but strong-willed. It was a difficult transition, as he was grieving and searching for his original “mom,” and one our dogs wasn’t happy about sharing our attention with an interloper.  Eventually, though, everyone acclimated and Hunter became part of our beloved little pack of four.  
     Sadly, only four years after coming to live with us, Hunter was diagnosed with lymphoma. In desperation, we opted to try chemotherapy and were thrilled when the cancer went into remission.  He proved to be a trooper when undergoing, treatment.  Unfortunately, the chemo only extended his life a little more than three months, then the lymphoma returned full-blown.  We had to accept that it was time for our little one to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.
     During those four short years, Hunter provided us with many wonderful memories.  His humorous facial expressions and boisterous antics kept us on our toes.  One of his favorite pastimes was hiding in the bushes in our back yard, stalking the unsuspecting squirrels who stole seeds from our bird feeders.  As I watched him from the sunroom one day, I was inspired to capture his comical behavior on paper—thus “The Dragon Slayer.”  Although Hunter is no longer with us, we cherish our memories of this funny, affectionate little dog who passed through our lives all too quickly.