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Where could my brother be? When he realized he’d lost his harmonica, he left the tent before we could stop him. Dad immediately went to find Woody. “Don’t worry, Chloe,” Dad reassured me. I’ll find your brother. You and Mom get warm clothes ready for Woody. I’m sure he’s one chilly dog now!” While Dad was gone, Mom and I gathered up towels and blankets so Woody could get dry and warm. Gathering up the towels, I saw Woody’s backpack. The pupcorn, electric blanket, and art supplies were still stuffed in the bag. Even though I was sad, the backpack made me giggle. Nobody made me smile like Woody!
While we worked, Mom started singing. At the sound of her first note, my heart sank. Mom had always taught us that music could help calm the soul. Mom sang when she was happy, but she also sang when she was worried or sad. My stomach churned and my eyes burned. I’d been suffering from allergies all week, but these tears had nothing to do with dandelions or clover. Mom caught a glimpse of my face and scooped me up. “It’s OK, Chloe. Dad will find Woody. Just be positive and have faith.” “I know, Mom, but Woody is alone. I know he’s starving because he talked about food all day! And he didn’t have a raincoat!” Mom wiped my tears and held me tight. “Don’t worry, honey. Woody can be goofy and silly, but he’s a really smart pup. He has great instincts and has learned lots of skills since we have been camping! And his big sister has taught him a thing or two.” Mom always knew how to make me smile. We returned to our chores, trying to pass the time. Finally, after almost an hour, Dad walked back into the tent - alone.
“Bad news. I couldn’t find him. I searched all around, called his name, but didn’t see him.” Mom and I began to sob. “Don’t be scared,” Dad gently said. “I’m sure he found shelter and is so protected that he couldn’t hear me calling.” The three of us were all thinking the same thing – Woody had been gone too long. The weather was nasty and we only had about an hour of daylight left. “I know! I’ll use my cell phone to call the campground office. Maybe Ranger Ralph will be there.” I grabbed my phone while Mom retrieved the number. My paws were shaking so much it was hard to dial. It rang, and rang and rang. Finally an answer. “Thank you for calling the Daniel Boone Campground. Our office is currently closed. We’re open from 9 to 5 each weekday. Please leave a message after the beep.” After the beep, I began to speak. “This is Chloe. My brother Woody is lost. We were hoping Ranger Ralph could help us find him.” Feeling defeated, I hung up the phone.
“I think we should all go look for Woody,” Mom cried. Dad suggested that he and I look for Woody while Mom stayed at the tent in case Woody returned. “But what if Chloe gets lost?” Mom argued. I assured Mom I would take my compass, map, flashlight, and even cell phone. Mom still wasn’t convinced I should go. Trying to reassure her, I remembered something I had read in my camping book. “I could mark a trail!” I said. “I’ll mark trees all along the way so I can find my way back in case I get confused.” “Excellent idea, Chloe!” Dad said, patting me on the head. “But how will you mark the tree?” I giggled to myself, knowing exactly how Woody would mark the tree. “I can use the paint from Woody’s art set he packed.” Mom and Dad looked at each other. “Brilliant!” Mom said.
We unzipped Woody’s backpack and retrieved the art set. It was still sticky from the pupscicles. We decided I would mark the stump of every few trees with hot pink paint. Dad took along the bright purple paint to mark his trail. We also took high-pitched whistles in case we needed to alert each other. Dad and I decided that if we needed help, we would blow our whistle three times over and over until the other one arrived. If we found Woody, we would blow our whistle four times to signal “Hip, hip, hooray!”
Mom made sure we were dressed warmly and had all our supplies. Before leaving, Mom, Dad and I reviewed our plan. Mom hugged and kissed Dad and me and told us to be careful. Dad rubbed my head and told me he had complete confidence in me. With that, we left the tent and braved the elements. As I trotted away, I could hear Mom singing.