Stories about adventure, travel, and living. Hope you enjoy.

Jake and the Marmot

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Last Part

On the upper reaches of the mountain, hidden among the rocks, they watched as Jake approached. Melvin had made a quick signal to alert the others of the presence of this intruder. On full alert they continued their surveillance as Jake entered their world. Without a care, he continued walking right into their midst. Melvin looked at Marlin and shrugged.

"What is he doing?" Marlin asked.

Melvin hushed him.

Jake continued to walk. He looked at the flowers, then the sky, then where to step, then... then he never saw Melvin or Marlin. Jake was oblivious to their presence.

"He’s a big one," Marlin screamed.

Jake looked around but he was not alarmed by their presence. He just kept walking. He knew the varmints were close, they smelled and kept making a shrill sound, but they didn’t know how to play ball, so he just ignored them.

"Nothing to worry about," Melvin added, "he’s just a big duffus. Now, if we saw a real predator like an eagle flying around, we’d sound the danger signal; but for Duffus, nothing. He is harmless."

They ducked in behind the rocks but continued watching Duffus. The rest of the colony of marmots were working to harvest and eat all the food they could so they could survive the cold winter months ahead. There was no reason to alarm the workers. Duffus was harmless.

The marmots loved grasses and alpine flowers. Melvin and Marlin were no exceptions, but today they were assigned sentry duty for the colony. As Melvin had pointed out they would have to spend a good part of their day patrolling, but they would also have to stop and eat from time to time. Overwhelmed by all of Melvin’s wisdom, Marlin followed his every move. Marlin had just turned two and this was his first summer working for the colony.

Marlin suddenly yelled again, "wait there are two of others with Duffus. Do you see them?"

"Easy now, there is no reason for alarm. Those are the bipeds. Haven't you seen one before?"

Marlin shook his head.

"These bipeds are so dumb that they just use two of their legs for walking. How could they ever catch us? Wait, did they bring us gifts? They are carrying sacks on their backs. Hmm, we had better follow them."

Melvin led the way staying out of view as they waddled up the rocky slopes.

"Jake, Jake," the bigger of the two bipeds said.

Duffus turned and looked at the two legged creatures.

"Yeah, you" Melvin called, "go to your owners you big duffus."

Jake did obey his owners. He, Jake, was their dog and they were his humans, his bipeds, his people. They took care of him and all he had to do was not run away. It was a sweet setup.

Howling, Jake said, "can’t we stop and play ball?"

Melvin tried to stay out of sight as he hurried trying to shadow the trio. The two bipeds were carrying bags on their backs. Melvin knew if they would just set the bags down and leave them for a few minutes, it would probably be just the gift he was looking for… salt. Melvin really liked the straps of the bags. Mmmm. His mouth watered just thinking of the flavors.

Marlin could only follow Melvin. He had never been on a ‘gift’ raid, though he had grown up hearing stories of famous marmot attacks. He was ready for his first mission. Melvin interrupted his dreaming as he called for Marlin to slay closer.

Devoted to the cause, Marlin paid close attention to his mentor following his every move.

Duffus turned around and looked in their direction sniffing.

"He’s on to us!" Melvin said.

"No, wait, he doesn't know what he is on to, he just smells something. Marlin, stay low. Hey, I can still see that nappy head, I said stay low. Don’t let him see you!"

Jake did smell the marmots. How could he help but smell them? They smelt worse than a possum. Increasing his pace to a speed as fast as his humans would allow, he tried to escape their odorous presence.

"Come on Jake. Slow down. Why are you in such a hurry?" the taller human said. "Heel, boy," he commanded.

Jake fell into formation beside his humans walking in step.

"Good boy, Jake."

Jake obediently followed them, but was shaking his head at their decision to decrease their speed. "This is ridiculous. If they had a nose like mine, they wouldn’t be walking this slow pace. They don't know what I am having to endure."

While his humans were looking to the right off of the ridge, Jake tried to pass them on the left. He was desperate to get away from the marmots. Boing. He was greeted by a trekking pole blocking his path. His escape maneuver didn’t work. Jake wished his people could smell the marmots. They would be running away from the odor.

"They move really fast to only use two legs!" exclaimed Marlin.

"If you would talk less and walk faster it would help."

Panting, Marlin said, "I am going as fast as I can. It’s my belly you know."

"What do you mean?"

"It’s dragging the ground."

"Suck it up."

"I’m trying."

"Look they’re getting away," Melvin conceded. "Luckily, I can still smell them. They smell like they bathe with flowers. So just follow the flower smell."

Marlin stuck his nose in the air sniffing. "But I don’t smell them."

"Don’t worry about it, just keep up with me and stay down. We don't want them to know we're following them. I said get down."

Marlin was looking dead ahead in Duffus’ eyes. "Are you sure he is safe?"

Melvin pawed Melvin across the nose and continued in his waddling pursuit.

Jake was not sure what the varmints were up to, but it really didn’t matter as long as they kept their distance.

His humans were not going to let him play with the furry guys so there was no reason for him to get excited about the large rodents. Every time he chase a bird or animal, except in his backyard, his humans fussed at him. One time he caught a chipmunk in the backyard. It was great. Those chipmunks are not very smart. The chipmunk darted across the yard, trying to outrun Jake, but the chipmunk did not stand a chance. Proudly Jake carried the chipmunk around showing him off. He was not chewing the chipmunk, he just held him in his mouth. But, Jake’s humans discovered what he had in my mouth they made him give it to them. Now they don’t let him play with little animals, even ones as big as marmots.

Out of sight the bipeds continued. "Melvin, are we supposed to walk this far away from the colony? Who is standing sentry now?" Marlin said still out of breath. "Wait a minute, Melvin, am I going to get in trouble?"

"Of course not. We just need to hurry."

"Hurry? I am going faster than marmots are supposed to go. My belly is raw from rubbing on the ground. I want to go back."

"Listen here. You need to quit sniveling and go faster. Now ,let’s do it."

Jake and his humans stopped below a cliff. The bipeds took off their bags and began rummaging through them as Melvin and Marlin approached under the cover of nearby rocks. To Marlin’s relief they were stopping for a break. Melvin continued to cautiously approach the bipeds as Marlin hid behind a rock to catch his breath. Duffus was fed, watered, and petted causing his attention to be diverted from Melvin and Marlin, and directed toward pleasing his humans.

Melvin continued his tailing maneuvers until he found a hole nearby and dove inside. After calling Marlin repeatedly, Marlin waddled to the hole and joined Melvin. They were safe in the hole while they waited to see what Duffus was going to do.

Nirvana! The bipeds were leaving their packs! Melvin in his overly excited state stepped on Marlin’s head as he peeked out of the hole.

"Get off me," complained Marlin.

"Wait just a minute my fine, furry friend. I am showing you the ropes. No other little marmots have it this good. When I was a youngster I had to walk forever to harvest grass and bring it back to the colony. You, you ungrateful marmot, you are being spoon fed just like Duffus."

Marlin didn’t understand, but neither did he complain anymore.

The bipeds were busy getting ready to depart but to Melvin’s dismay, they were securing their packs to foil his plan! With painstaking effort the bipeds worked to secure their packs on a boulder about six feet high. Using their trekking poles as levers, they counter balanced the bags with heavy rocks. The tips of the poles extended a couple of feet from the boulder. They hung the bags from the tips of the poles and inspected the rigging. The tall one seemed pleased with his hanging system as he dusted his hands back and forth.

Melvin crawled back into the hole from his lookout. "They are onto us."

"How do you know?" asked Marlin.

"They are varmint proofing their bags. They must have seen you. I told you to keep your head down. Never fear though, you are with the master. There is not a bag that his been hung that I can’t get down."

Jake did not realize what his humans were doing until they clipped the tether to his collar. They were leaving him. How could they do that? He was being a good dog. He was not even chasing the varmints.

"Jake, be good and we will be right back. We are just going to climb this cliff. You will be all right. You can see us all the way to the top," explained the shorter human.

With a whimper, Jake accepted his fate.

Quickly, his humans started climbing the cliff. It would have been very hard for him to follow them, but he would have tried! He was a good dog. Laying in the shade of the boulder he kept an eye on his humans and an eye on watch for protection.

Melvin sprang into action. Sneaking around the boulder he led Marlin to the opposite side of the huge rock than where Duffus was laying.

"Wow, the boulder is steeper than I thought," said Melvin quietly.

"Let’s just go back to the colony," Marlin suggested.

"We are this close, we can’t turn back now. Are you with me?"

"I guess."

Melvin began sizing up the boulder to see how he could get to the top. There had to be a way as he scaled the easiest looking face.

Jake sat up and stuck his nose up to smell. It was the varmints again. Looking around he did a quick scan but could not see them. They had to be close, though… he smelt them. If they would take a bath they could probably actually sneak up on someone. Jake went into full alert mode, he needed to protect his food and water from the varmints who were sneaking around somewhere close.

After a couple of false starts Melvin made it to the top of the boulder. He was adept in his climbing skills, especially for a plump marmot. From the high view Melvin could see Duffus below and the bags, his self proclaimed gifts, still beyond his reach. Out of reach, but not impossible, all he needed to do was move some of the big rocks holding the pole and the bags should drop. It was going to be easier than expected, but he would need Marlin’s help. Looking down at the novice, Melvin motioned for Marvin to start climbing the boulder.

Marlin was still refining his climbing skills. The boulder looked like a very hard route, but he would at least try to climb it. With Melvin watching impatiently Marlin struggled as he inched his way upward, then lost his footing slide back down to the ground again. Finally by following Melvin's directions Marlin stumbled to the top of the boulder.

Out of breath Marlin proclaimed, "that was really hard."

"You made it look hard. Now, hurry and let's move these rocks."

"Wait then the bags will fall."

"And then we will go down and get the bags," Melvin said anxiously as he licked his lips in anticipation.

"But how will we get the bags once they fall on top of the Duffus guy?"

Scratching his head Melvin said, "hmm, I didn’t think about that. I think the bags will land right next to him. I know! We will use the old number 42."

"The number 42?"

"Didn't they teach you anything in school? The number 42, you distract a domestic and tangle their lead line while they are investigating your distraction. Then they will be unable to return to their original position - due to the tangled line. It works every time. After we move some of these rocks, you can climb back down and begin distracting Duffus."

"Why me?"

"Well, you didn’t even know what a number 42 was, I need to supervise to make sure everything goes right."

Marlin agreed and began working on a diversion plan as he worked with Melvin.

As the marmots struggled to move the rocks, Jake kept watching the top of the boulder. He could not figure out what they were up to.


One of the bigger rocks rolled down the backside of the boulder where the marmots had climbed up.

Jake leapt to his feet and stretched his lead line as he curiously inspected the noise. He stood behind the boulder looking directly at them.

"You’ve done it now," Melvin exclaimed. "Duffus is blocking our way down."

"I didn’t mean to! I just guess I was stronger than you expected."

The marmots were stuck on top of the boulder with Duffus on the ground prowling. Backing away from the edge, Marlin fell into the trekking pole which supported the packs. One of the large granite rocks that was holding the pole in place dislodged and rolled down the boulder just missing Duffus. He jumped out of the way, but the sharp rock severed his lead line. He was free. As Marlin and Melvin argued over their predicament, the un-weighted pole flipped into the air, and dropped the bags to the ground. Marlin tried to catch the falling pole, but lost his balance and followed them to the rocks below.

In disbelief, Melvin watched as Marlin scampered away to the safety of a hole. Duffus ran from the back of the boulder to the front to investigate the noise caused by the crashing bags, but then returned to keep an eye on Melvin. Melvin could not believe his bad luck. How could this happen to him?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a golden eagle swept down and attacked the isolated marmot. He did not even have a chance. The mighty eagle had been watching and waiting for just this moment. In their focused lust for the bags, the marmots had forgotten their most important sentry duties. Usually, the eagles only attacked young, isolated marmots. Adult marmots were generally smarter and would never allow themselves to be so vulnerable.

Melvin did not know what had hit him as prey and predator tumbled to the bottom of the boulder.

From the safety of the hole Marlin watched, not knowing what to do.

Jake, the good dog, jumped away scared half to death. The eagle seemed to be easily winning the battle. The varmint was losing. Conjuring his most vicious bark, Jake attacked the tail of the eagle. Feathers went flying everywhere. The eagle turned to see his attacker was a big dog with very big teeth and decided he had misjudged his apparent advantage. In haste, the eagle flew away as Jake continued barking at him.

Melvin, shaken and slightly injured, waddled as fast as a marmot could to the hole and Marlin's help.

Jake pranced around the boulder excited by all of the commotion. Finding the bags, Jake laid down next to the them, faithfully waiting for his humans as he lay his head on one of the soft bags.

"Are you all right?!" Marlin sounded.

"Yes, I think so," replied Melvin.

"I thought you were a goner. Where did that eagle come from anyway?"

"I don’t know, I am just glad I got away. Oh, great Duffus is guarding the gifts now."

"Forget about those bags. We need to get back to the colony!"

With all the disappointment that a marmot could muster Melvin agreed to return to the colony.

"You know he saved you," Melvin said.



"Well, stay low, if he sees us, he will still chase us."

Shaking his young head Melvin followed Marlin back toward the colony.

Jake fell asleep with one eye open.

With a napping sniff his nose twitched. He smelt his humans coming back. Stretching he howled and ran to meet them.

The big biped quizzed, "Jake, how did you get off of your line?"

With a mighty howl Jake said, "I am so excited to see you. You can’t believe all that happened to me. Hey, do you want to play? Wait I will find a toy."

The smaller biped added, "now, how did you get loose?" Examining his collar and the end of the lead line she continued, "Jake, what happened? Did you chew through your line?"

Another load howl said, "no, a big rock landed on the line and when I pulled to get away, it broke. It was pretty scary. Now, do you want to play or what? I can’t find any good toys, did you bring a ball?"

Inspecting the lead line the big biped said, "it doesn’t look like it was chewed, it seems more like it was crushed. And look at this (pointing to the feathers)…, Jake did you find a bird or something?"

"Look, I already told you what happened. Oh, but I did fuss at a big bird who was chasing one of the varmints. Now, do you want to play?"

"Wow, this is very odd. We should check him for wounds … something has happened," the small biped said. She made Jake lay down and inspected him with generous petting. "I don’t see anything weird, I guess he is okay."

Jumping up from the inspection Jake howled, "hey do you want to play? Throw me a ball. Oops, I don’t think we have any toys - well, throw me anything, I’ll get it. Come on, let’s play. We’ve been out here all day."

Looking at their packs on the ground the biped questioned? "Jake, what happened to our packs?"

"Okay, as I was telling you, the varmints were trying to play with me, they knocked your packs down, then the bird attacked the funny looking varmint. Then, I chased the bird away. Nobody was going to mess with the packs, I was protecting them. Afterall, my food is inside! Howl!"

His humans sat and rummaged through their sacks looking for food and water. Jake decided he could play later, so instead he sat diligently hoping for a morsel of perhaps, was that a bagel he smelt. Yummy, one of his favorites.

After resting, feeding, and watering, the bipeds packed their bags. Jake was ready to go. Maybe at camp he could talk them into playing, there were a lot of good sticks at camp. Some of the sticks were even very tasty.

Back on his walking leash Jake led the way back down the mountain. It wasn't long before the sharp shrill whistles of the marmots could be heard. Standing on a rock Marlin and his friends were watching for Jake to return.

"There he is," Marlin exclaimed. "He's the fury one."

Marlin's friends squealed with excitement. One turned a flip for Jake, another did a special whistle, and the others just shouted, "hurray." Melvin stood to the side pouting. He had missed his chance for the tasty bags the bipeds were carrying.

"What's up with them?" the larger biped asked.

The smaller one answered, "They are just warning the others we are coming."

Marlin continued recounting the story of Melvin’s rescue by the fury creature. The other marmots took delight in the story as they waved and cheered as Jake passed by.

Jake smiled at Marlin and continued along the trail at a fast rate. He was ready to get back to camp and find some toys.

"Something went on back at the boulder," the smaller biped exclaimed. "If he could only talk to us..."

Jake just smiled.


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