“You were on the phone for quite a while,” Honey exclaimed as Rory walked into the front office.

He nodded, chuckling, but didn’t offer an explanation.

“Well, what’s her name?” The beautiful twenty-two-year-old was insistent. Honey was 5 ft 8 inches tall and had curly blonde hair. Her sea-green colored eyes and her freckled face were the first things you noticed about her. She had been working as Rory’s office manager and assistant for just over three years.

“Selena, Selena Gomes,” Rory replied.

Doc Rory Evans, a young, sturdily built man a few inches shy of six feet tall with sand-colored hair, wore a mustache he thought made him look older and more distinguished. His manner was sometimes gruff, but always entirely honest. Some people didn’t like him because he made them uncomfortable with his artless ways. However, others trusted his skills and abilities. He was a good vet and had a way with animals. He understood them and could quickly figure out what was ailing them. His patients couldn’t talk, and he sometimes wished their owners couldn’t either. It was a rare occasion to see him outside without his white, Resistol hat perched confidently on his head.

“Oh, that’s the woman who called yesterday! Is she really a playmate from Playboy magazine?” Honey pressed.

Rory nodded. “She’s from Westlake, and she’s moving her cat sanctuary up here.”

“How did she find you?”

“Through Lois Jordan.”

“What does she want?”

“Nothing right now. Selena’s in the process of getting fencing put in. But she’ll need me to certify her place when she brings the cats up.”

“Where is her place?”

“At the end of Chimney Rock Road, almost to Lime Mountain. She wants to see about adding some ostriches to her setup. She’s trying to make it more natural.”

“But ostriches aren’t used to our hills, and mountains, are they?”

“Tigers aren’t used to California Mountains, Honey.”

“Not yet, soon, though. Wait until enough get out and start breeding.”

“You’re watching too much sci-fi stuff.”

The phone rang, and Honey answered.

“Okay, Uncle Doug, bring her right in,” she replied. “It’s Doug Roth, my uncle; he’s bringing Moose in. She’s been bitten by a rattlesnake.”

Moose, a Jack Russell Terrier, was a legend in the area. She was an ace pig-hunting dog.

Doug and his family lived in the area for generations and had access to hundreds of acres of barley fields and cattle grazing land. They evolved a family pastime into a hunting adventure for city folk from all over the world. And Moose, the ever-ready buzz queen of the pig-hunt was a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Most of the hunters just had to have a picture taken with his newly killed pig and this new best friend, Moose. Each and every photo showed an alert, bright, happy yet serious worker bee, with stand-up ears and wagging tail, trembling with anticipatory excitement, just waiting for the next chase. She was typical Jack Russell with a not so regular job.

However, her bright exuberance was severely dimmed this day; Moose was not wagging her tail. She was very subdued and looked like she was in pain. And her face was swollen with her body’s reaction to the toxic venom.

"How big was the snake, Doug?" Rory asked as he pulled out morphine to kill the pain.

"Four feet. We had just shot the pig, and Moose was standing next to it. When the client went to his kill, he heard a hiss in the grass. 'That sounds like a lawn sprinkler over there,' the fellow said. I knew right then it was a snake. So, did Moose. She ran right to it. It was still coiling, that's how quick Moose was. And she had it in her mouth before it could bite her, Doc. But when she dropped it and backed off to get a fresh grip, that thing struck her, bam. So, I left the group, with Garret, my boy, and came here with Dad right away."

"Hi, Ellis," Rory said as Doug’s white-haired father entered the treatment room.