Finding Pakak —a Free Online Bedtime Story
~From the Children's Short Story Book: Cinderella Sarah (for 5-9 year olds) by Karen Cossey. Get your copy for free here, plus another free book for 9-12 year olds.~
Amaruq woke, startled. He heard his father outside, getting the snow mobile ready. Amaruq hoped he hadn’t slept in too long. Now that spring was on its way, the villagers were keen to go seal hunting. His father had agreed that he could go too, so although he wanted to move over and snuggle up to his mother in her bed with his little brother, Nauja, he knew he needed to get up straight away.
He pulled on his snow gear. Nauja liked the modern, bright coloured snow gear. Amaruq preferred the clothes his grandmother had made for him: a two layered polar bear skin outfit, with the fur of the inside layer facing inwards and the fur of the outside layer facing outwards.
As soon as Amaruq saw the snowmobile, he knew he wasn’t going hunting. His father hadn’t tied on any of his gear.
“Where’s my stuff, Papa?” he asked.
“Sorry son.” His father looked serious. “I need you to stay and look for Pakak.” Pakak was their husky dog, whose name meant, “One who gets into everything” because of all the mischief she got into as a pup. Amaruq and Nauja adored her.
“What’s happened to her?” Amaruq asked with a worried frown.
“She never came in last night, and she’s due to have her litter any day. I want you to track her down and bring her inside the house to have her pups.”
Amaruq’s face fell. He’d been looking forward to seal hunting. Yet his father seemed to be really concerned about Pakak.
“Son, you know our meat supplies are getting low, so I need to go hunting. Do you think you can track down Pakak? Or should I stay back to help you?”
Amaruq felt a surge of pride as he realised his father was testing him and giving him a chance to prove his tracking skills.
“I can do it, Papa. I’ll find Pakak.”
He watched his father finish loading the snow mobile and waved him goodbye. His father had searched in the village, so Amaruq circled the outside, trying to find tracks leading away from the town. None of the ones he saw seemed deep enough in the snow for Pakak, who was heavy with the pups she was carrying.
As he scanned the horizon, he spotted the igloos. They’d been made only three days ago for the annual igloo building competition. Noticing some deep tracks in the ground, he knew in his heart that Pakak had headed that way. While he wanted to get to her quickly, he realised he’d need a sled to bring any pups back if she’d given birth.
He ran to his house and harnessed together four team dogs. After finding an empty box and a blanket, the dogs started pulling the sled. Once he was clear of the town, he called to the dogs to speed up, and soon they were going as fast as the wind—that’s what it felt like to Amaruq. His father and he much preferred the dog teams to the snow mobiles; it was so much more exciting.
As he approached the igloos, he slowed the dogs and strained to hear any noise. He caught the sound of whimpering from the furthest igloo. Of course, it was the one his father had made. Pakak would choose that igloo. It would have his father’s smell all over it.
Taqukaq, Pakak’s mate, started barking as they pulled up to the igloo. Pakak returned his bark, but she didn’t come out. Amaruq jumped down and crawled into the igloo. Four puppies were snuggled close to a tired-looking Pakak.
“Everyone gets a sleepy snuggle except me today!” laughed Amaruq, thinking of his brother still asleep at home. Pakak let Amaruq pick up each puppy.
“You’ve done a great job, Pakak, all by yourself out here, but it’s time to take you home or Taqukaq won’t stop barking.” Amaruq picked up a puppy and carefully crawled outside. He placed it gently on the blanket in the box and went back for the rest.
Pakak followed him with the last puppy held in her mouth by the scruff of its neck.
“Do you want a ride, Pakak?” Amaruq asked, pointing at the space beside the box. Pakak gave him an offended look, as if to say a sled dog never needs a ride. Amaruq called for the team to head back slowly, and Pakak trotted next to the sled, by her puppies.
“Your father will be very proud of you,” his mother said to Amaruq as she settled Pakak by the stove. “You are growing up so quick.”
Amaruq looked at the puppies. One day they would grow up too, and his father had promised him the pick of the litter to start his own team. He felt a sense of anticipation. Only a few more years and he’d be hunting with his father, on his own sled. He lifted up the biggest looking puppy, and holding it close whispered, “I’m going to call you Nukilik; it means ‘one who is strong.’ Go to sleep, Nukilik, and dream about chasing polar bears with me.”
Story by Karen Cossey
Copyright © Karen Cossey, 2014
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