The fire crackled in the mid-night sky, the smell of fish wafted in the air, distant sounds of unknown animals came and went. A sleek beautiful dog was sitting patiently waiting for its meal. Its eyes glowed brightly. The dog’s fur was thick and warm. Beside the dog was a man wearing warm clothes, his hood was down and you could see his stern mouth. His eyes were deep blue and his hair was standing on end. Snow was throughout his hair, reason being, the two had just walked in the cold blizzard searching for shelter, but failed to find much.
They found only a place to sit for the night, before they had to move on. It was near a lake which had a thick sheet of ice covering the fresh water, trees were stripped bare, they had no leaves, no flowers, and there was no sign of life to suggest it was going to bloom at all. The place looked like a freezer rather than a part of Mother Nature. The man made a hole with the tools that he was carrying and waited for the fish to bite the bait. Food was scarce because the two had travelled longer than they expected. Soon he had caught two small fish, which was enough to feed them.
The man stood up and trudged in the deep snow over to his bag, which had been dumped carelessly on the icy ground. He was tired and hungry. He got out two wooden bowls and placed it on the rocky surface that was free of snow and then walked over to the fire, seeing if the fish was cooked. It was, he smiled happily and took the fish off the hot fire and placed one in each bowl.
“Your food is cooked Max!” the man called out to the dog with excitement. Max’s furry ears lifted and he stood slowly up onto his strong four legs. He bounded to his master and lowered his head to eat. Soon there were sounds of bones being crushed. The man picked up his food delicately and bit into the cooked fish.
“At least we found a great place to sit and eat!” exclaimed the man. Max looked up and barked. The man stared at Max, licking his lips.
“Like it, huh? Well I wish that I had caught more fish, then we would both have a full stomach,” muttered the man. The dog lowered his head and stumbled back to his spot.
“I’m sorry,” mumbled the man. “But don’t worry, we’ll get back home soon!” added the man, trying to sound happy. Max just ignored him and looked into the night sky. The man wasn’t happy either and trying to change the mood of Max was nearly impossible. He sighed deeply and looked up at the dark, mysterious sky as stars were appearing.
“Just imagine what is happening at the other side of the world!” exclaimed the man. Max was still ignoring him. Max looked at the man, Max knew that he was stubborn, but he didn’t want to admit it to himself.
“Why even bother you won’t even listen to me?!” sneered the man, unhappy about Max’s stubborn attitude. Max lowered his head and closed his eyes.
“You better not fall asleep on me on purpose!” complained the man. Max didn’t stir. Max was asleep just as the man had thought.
The man knew that they wouldn’t leave until the morning came out to warm them. He sighed deeply and unpacked his bag, he unrolled his sleeping bag. It was black and had a print of a magnificent blue dragon. He sat down on top and opened his favourite book. It was about a man named Leo who was on an adventure to search for the Emperor Penguin. Soon sleep started to take over and his eyes started to droop. The man made up his mind and put his book away, then went to sleep, hoping he would survive the cold, threatening to kill Max and him.
The man awoke the next morning “What, where am I?” he questioned, “Max, where are you?”
Max was gone.
The man quickly got up, got ready and went searching for Max. In the distance the man could see a rough figure of a moving object.
“Max is that you?” the man asked hopefully.
“No it isn’t” the voice replied as the figure got closer and closer, “I’m definitely not a Max!”
Finally the man could see the person clearly. It was a lovely young lady.
She was around the age of 22. The young lady had dark blue eyes, short curly light brown hair and she looked short and skinny. She was wearing a pair of fluffy white boots, a big puffy blue snow suit, blue goggles and a blue beanie with a pompom on top. She had an annoyed expression, because she was wet and cold.
“What’s your name, stranger?” the lady inquired “Mine is Annabelle Sanderson.”
“My name is Dale Fritzaberg, and I have lost my dog, can you help me find him please Annabelle?”
“Sure and you can call me Anna.”
For the first time in a long while Dale looked around and hoped to see his beautiful dog, but instead saw a large rock sticking out of the landscape in the shape of Abraham Lincoln’s hat.
So Anna and Dale set off to find Max. After a while Anna asked Dale if he would go to Antarctica with her, Dale stopped, it was a bit of a shock to him because he had only known her for 4 hours and 47 minutes. Anna had asked Dale to go with him because she needed someone to go with her to research the wildlife in Antarctica. “Ummmmmmmmm” Dale said absent mindedly.
So they both searched on, but still they couldn’t find Max.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, they found him lying in the cold, wet snow. His eyes were closed shut, and did not open as they approached.
Dale knelt beside Max, and grabbed his cold, damp fur and began to shake him, but Max’s eyes did not open. Dale continued to try and get Max to open his eyes, but had no luck. Weariness from the past few days set upon them and reality set in. The cold had killed his dog.
Anna did not know what to say or do. They both sat there, looking at the lifeless dog, still hoping he would show some sign of life.
One moment Max was lying there and in the next moment he finally opened his eyes.
“Max!” Dale whispered in disbelief, “You made it. You’re alive!” Dale had never been so relieved in his entire life. Anna shared his emotions.
After the scare they had both experienced, the offer from Anna to travel to the other side of the globe sounded like a welcomed change. Dale decided right then that as long as Max could make the trip to Antarctica, he would go too.
The two trudged back to their camp site and both decided that their appetites had now returned. Anna let a fishing line into the water to find some food, while Dale happily played with Max. When a small meal had been prepared the three sat down to satisfy their hunger.
“I know it’s not the best time to ask, but I really need the answer today. Do you want to go to Antarctica with me?” Anna questioned.
“Okay, Anna. I’ll go with you,” Dale said, “as long as we can bring Max with us.”
Before Dale knew it Anna had started packing up the empty bowls and putting them messily in her back pack.
“We’ll head off in the morning to the radio station to call in an aeroplane,” Anna said, whilst unrolling her pink polka-dotted sleeping bag.
The night was cold and unforgiving, but now Dale had something else to think about. What would they do? Who else might come? What animal did Anna want to research?
All these questions were buzzing around in his head like a shaken up wasp in a lolly jar.
The next morning Dale, Anna and Max set off to the radio station, which was only a mile or two away from where they had stayed the night before.
Inside was warm against their cold skin. Behind a desk was a man who looked quite old and had a long scar from his cheek to his jaw.
“How may I help you?” asked the man.
“Hello. I’m Annabelle Sanderson and this is my partner Dale Fritzaberg. We would like a standard plane to take us to Australia,” Anna said like she did this everyday.
“AUSTRALIA?!?!?!?!?!?” Dale said, shocked. “Why on earth would we go there?”
“Because one, it’s close to Antarctica and two, we come from there,” Anna explained.
“I don’t come from Australia,” Dale yelled. “I come from New Zealand.”
The man was sitting impatiently for them to make a decision.
Finally they decided Tasmania was a good option.
“Two tickets and an animal pass to Tassie, please,” Anna asked politely.
“Finally. Here you go ma’am. Enjoy your flight. It will be here in 6- 8 hours. Please sign in with passports and pass through customs at least 2 hours before departure. Thank you for flying Arctic International Airlines, where service always comes with a smile. By the way, you get a 10% discount at the café if you buy a medium coffee and a bagel,” the man said with absolutely no enthusiasm at all.
Dale, Anna and Max sat at the café for two hours eating cake, drinking coffee, talking about Antarctica and what they needed to buy in Tasmania.
Two hours before departure they went to get their passports checked. It was then time for Anna and Dale to say goodbye to Max for a short while. Max was taken and placed in an animal transport cage and would reunite with Dale and Anna upon arrival in Antarctica. That took about forty-five minutes and they still had to go through customs. That took about an hour and by that time they were ready to board the plane.
The plane was small and apart from one other lady, Dale and Anna were the only passengers. The lady was going to Tasmania as well so there were only petrol stops along the way. The stewardess served pretzels and water which was perfect for Anna because she was sick of coffee. Dale wouldn’t eat any more because he was tired enough to sleep for a week.
Their first stop was in China, they had to switch to a bigger flight to get to Tasmania.
Dale and Anna both slept on the way from China to Tasmania. At 7:00pm the plane landed in Hobart and Anna had to usher a taxi to take them to a hotel.
The Welcome Inn was alright and there were two single beds, so that worked out fine. The two had to get ready and pack all the food in one day, because they had a flight that night.
First they bought big, fluffy coats and gloves and all the clothing they needed. Next Anna wanted to get a thicker sleeping bag and some blankets.
Finally they bought food including 7 buckets of chocolate!
“At this rate we have so much stuff the ice will crack under us!” Dale remarked.
At 9:00pm they went to the airport to check if they could get snow sled hire down there. After that they boarded the plane to Antarctica.
The flight was only 4 hours long, so Dale read the book that he hadn’t read in so long. Anna was trying to flirt her way into getting more peanuts from the flight attendant. After 4 hours of reading and failure, the plane landed.
The plane landed right next to the transport stations, so they could get to the vehicles quicker. The lady in the plane gave them a complementary bag of pretzels and a juice box, they were not hungry so they saved them in a box for later. After they disembarked from the plane Dale, Anna and Max quickly walked to their vehicle. The ride was long and boring. Finally they got to the hut they called home.
The first thing they did was unpack all the food into the cupboards provided. Then they set up their beds and put some towels down for Max. Anna wanted to get started on her project immediately, but she would have to wait till morning because Dale was tired and Max was being lazy.
After a restless night, Anna had a shower and got changed into her fluffy snow suit.
Dale slopped out of bed and had some buttered toast with honey and a cup of tea.
At 8am they went for a walk in the chilly morning air. They saw two Adelie Penguins and a Fur Seal on the way to the research area. Anna and Dale were happy for Max to wander and explore the terrain because Dale had assured Anna that Max wasn’t a threat to any animals.
At the research area, Anna and Dale were reading books when they realised that they had better get back to their hut. When they got to the hut they gazed around for Max, but he was nowhere to be seen. Anna and Dale stumbled outside. They then called out for Max, but he did not appear. They were worried about Max because he could have frozen or fallen in a crevasse.
When Max appeared two hours later he was cold and wet. They all went to bed for another long night.
In the morning they staggered out of their beds, they had sugar on Weet- Bix. Dale and Anna got ready for another exciting day. They decided to bring Max with them, so he wouldn’t run off again. Once they got to the research area they decided they would go on the wireless internet to research Adelie Penguins as this was the species they were researching.
They found out that Adelie Penguins eat Krill at the waters edge; they also found out that they are scared of Skuas and Leopard seals. They live along the entire Antarctic coast and nearby islands.
After they found a little information they decided to go out and search for Adelie Penguins. Anna and Dale were so engrossed in their research that they didn’t notice that Max had scuttled off once again.
“We shouldn’t go looking for him, because he came back yesterday” said Anna.
Dale and Anna went back to the research area so they could continue with their research. The Adelie Penguins were diving into the water to get Krill for their dinner, they were also huddling together. Anna found them so remarkable that she wanted to go and touch them, but she couldn’t because they would defend themselves and their young.
At 4.30pm they decided that they would go back to the hut. On the way they saw two Leopard Seals, they were very interesting so they decided to stop and watch them for a little while.
Anna told Dale a bit about them. She said they have a 10cm layer of fat and they eat Krill, Squid, Fish and Penguins.
The Leopard Seals were lounging around being lazy. They were waving their fins around, whilst swallowing fish. The seals had ink on them from where they had been eating squid earlier. They did not look to be in danger of the killer whales at that stage because they were on the ice eating fish. Anna and Dale also saw a Wandering Albatross eating fish. The Wandering Albatross would soon travel to a warmer place to migrate. Anna and Dale both knew that they were the biggest of all Albatross’s and have a wing span of 3 – 4 metres.
It was 5:30pm and they thought that they had better go to the hut before dark. On the way back, Anna said she would tell Dale about some of the animals she was familiar about.
She talked about the Patagonian Toothfish. They eat squid, crustations, smaller toothfish, small fish and Krill. Scientists tell how old they are by counting their rings on their teeth. The maximum length is 2.2 metres and it can weigh up to 120 kilos. Its threats are killer whales. The Patagonian Toothfish hibernates because it provides seasonal energetic benefits. The Patagonian Toothfish is part of the Antarctic cod family.
They were soon at the hut where they made a small fire to cook a beef stew for dinner. The stew was soon ready, Dale put three bowls on the table and put some stew in them. After their dinner they had a block of chocolate each. They put a pot on the stove to make hot chocolate. Anna, Dale and Max had an early night for a big day which was to follow.
The next day Anna and Dale got ready to go to the research area, they left the hut at 9.34am. They decided to leave Max tethered to his lead for the day. On the way, Anna told Dale about the Snow Petrel.
The Snow Petrel are pure white with grey feet, they also have black eyes and a black beak. Snow Petrels lay one egg and they sit on it for 41 to 49 days. Snow Petrels eat Squid, Fish, Krill and Patagonian Toothfish.
Anna and Dale then saw a school of deceased Krill. They examined the Krill and took a sample. Dale then told Anna they had better get back to the hut.
When they had returned, Dale lit a small fire and cooked some under-sized fish. Anna went to check on Max but found that he had escaped from his lead. She was not concerned because Anna knew that Max would return when he was ready.
When the fish was ready, Anna got out two large bowls. Dale and Anna sat and ate their fish in complete silence, soon there was a scratch at the door, Dale got up to inspect.
He slowly opened the door and saw a small dark figure in front of him. As soon as his eyes got used to the Antarctic light, he figured out that it was Max.
Max trotted inside of the hut and sat down quietly. Anna put a small bowl of fish on the floor for him, but he didn’t have one nibble.
“Why hasn’t he eaten his food?” questioned Anna. “Maybe we will have to find out,” replied Dale.
The next morning Dale and Anna with a sigh walked to the Research Station, on the way they bumped into another researcher, he was holding a dead penguin.
“What happened?” asked Anna in shock; dread crawled from the pit of their stomachs to their throats, it was certain that the penguin was dead, Dale sighed and said in a convincing tone,
“Maybe it’s just part of mother nature.”
“I’m sure it is,” said the man. He left, leaving Anna and Dale in the cold. Anna walked off sadly; Dale followed looking strong, but inside his heart was aching with emotions.
“You seem strong,” Anna murmured to Dale.
“Huh … well we can’t change what just happened, so it’s better to move on,” Dale explained.
“Come on, lets go!” said Anna, lightening up as she ran ahead, Dale followed with a fake smile on his face.
They arrived to the Research Station and saw the man again.
“Hey, have you heard the good news?” queried the man.
“What good news?” asked Anna.
“A baby Adelie Penguin is being born!”
“Cool!” said Anna and Dale.
They ran off to the colony, but stayed 100 metres away from them. Holding their binoculars they crouched down in the freezing snow and focussed on the hatching egg.
Ever so slowly the egg started the crack. The crack lines were so tiny, but grew larger by the second. Soon a beak popped out of the egg and then the head, the mother came to the chick’s side, then half of his body appeared out of the tiny egg.
“It’s so cute!” said Anna.
“Yeah,” agreed Dale.
“It’s getting late and cold, we better head back to camp, I feel like a hot chocolate with diminutive marshmallows,” said Dale happily. Anna finally agreed with Dale for once.
Soon they trudged back to the camp with oversized grins on their faces. Anna whipped up two hot chocolates with diminutive marshmallows. Max was moaning back to his rug with an empty stomach.
Once Dale and Anna had finished their hot chocolate, they went to bed in their new sleeping bags. Dale woke up hearing a creak, which sounded like a door opening, he thought he was imagining things, so he went back to sleep.
In the morning Dale and Anna noticed that Max was missing, Dale suggested that he had just gone for a walk. Dale and Anna went for another walk, but this time to go find Max.
Anna was fed up with looking for the lost Husky, because her time should have been spent researching the Adelie Penguins. While they were walking they found three Adelie Penguins with teeth marks around their necks, there were feathers everywhere. A huge crack was in the ice near the deserted penguins.
“Maybe it was a Leopard Seal, because I heard that they can crack through the ice and grab penguins by the neck,” explained Dale.
“Or a Killer Whale,” said Anna.
“Yeah right, how could they even get onto the ice? I mean, they can’t just jump out of the sea and land in an area like this!” exclaimed Dale.
“Well did you ever consider that I was day dreaming?” asked Anna
“Oh … no, well let’s get back to the hut, I’m sure Max will come back,” said Dale.
They walked back, but something was nagging Dale in the back of his mind, why would a Leopard Seal not eat his prey?
“I think you should have a buzz cut!” said Anna, upon returning to the hut.
“Great,” said Dale, not wanting anything to do with it.
Anna was giving the whinging Dale a buzz cut, when suddenly they both heard a whine at the door. Dale, sick of his haircut, raced to the door. As he opened it a large familiar dog bowled the door fully open and trekked snow through the hut into his corner.
“Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh,” screamed Anna. “What’s in your mouth?” growled Dale.
Max innocently spat out a little bit of blood and quite a few feathers. Dale and Anna were standing shocked.
“Are they p…p…penguin feathers?!?!” Anna hesitated to say.
Anna and Dale studied the blood and feathers for 7 hours and finally they discovered that the blood and feathers belonged to Adelie Penguins. Dale and Anna were surprised to find that Max was the cause of the penguin’s deaths.
“Should we own up to quarantine?” Dale asked.
“Well maybe Max isn’t the murderer?” Anna said. “The penguin could have died and Max could have been hungry.”
The next day Dale and Anna stayed in the hut and refused to let Max out. It didn’t work very well because Max needed to go to the toilet and Anna demanded that Dale let him out. To Dales unhappiness, Anna opened the door for Max to do his business, all the while, Max was firmly tied to his leash.
Later that afternoon, while Dale and Anna were trekking once again to the Research Station, they came upon more dead penguins, but without bite marks.
“What’s going on here?” questioned Anna.
“I don’t know,” replied Dale, “Max can’t have done this because he is on the lead.”
“Lets run some tests,” Anna said, as she walked over to pick up a dead penguin.
They took blood samples, feathers and some skin for diagnosing. It took a couple of hours for them to get a result, but they found results of a disease that could only be carried by a dog. Anna gasped.
“It can’t have been Max,” Dale said.
Anna walked over to the phone.
“What are you doing?!?” asked Dale.
“Calling quarantine,” Anna shouted from across the room.
“But Max would have to go and so would I, I can’t leave you alone,” cried Dale, “Then you would have no partner to help you with your research, Anna.”
“But what option do we have?” explained Anna.
Dale was pondering the question about calling quarantine or not. If they did, Dale and Anna would get a huge fine. If they didn’t call quarantine the Adelie Penguins would die out.
“Fine then,” said Dale grumpily.
“I will go with you so I’m not alone down here, Dale,” said Anna.
The following day Dale, Anna and Max packed up their bags and walked over to the little landing station to tell the flight manager about Max being the cause of the Adelie Penguins dying.
“Hi, um, Fred,” said Dale, looking at the flight managers name tag.
“We have a problem with quarantine,” said Anna. “Please may we be able to get two tickets and an animal pass back to Tasmania?” Dale and Anna questioned together. Max just barked.
Dale was petting Max on the head as he stared out the window waiting for their flight to arrive. The small waiting room was deserted. Dale said to Anna,
“Why are you coming back to Alaska with us?”
Anna replied, “Because I don’t want to be alone while I’m doing research.”
“Oh,” Dale said and continued looking out the window, bummed that Anna’s research had to be cut short on the account of Max.
Eventually their plane arrived. Anna and Dale boarded the plane, found their seats and almost immediately fell asleep. The events of the last few days had finally caught up with them. They both woke up as the plane landed in Tasmania.
Inside, Dale and Anna approached the nearest ticket agent.
“We’re looking for two tickets to Alaska and our dog will be travelling with us. We’d like to leave as soon as possible.”
“Hmm,” the ticket agent responded, “I’ll see what I can find.”
“You’re in luck,” replied the agent, after taking what seemed like forever to complete his search, “We have space available on the next flight. It leaves in 5 hours.”
“We’ll take it,” Dale and Anna responded in unison.
“Here are your tickets. You’re flight leaves from gate C7. You can check your dog in over at the airline counter over there.”
“Thank you,” replied both Anna and Dale in unison.
“You’re welcome. Enjoy your flight,” responded the attendant.
Anna and Dale went to the airline counter and checked Max in. Once they had the okay from security, Dale and Anna gathered their things.
“See you in Alaska, Max,” Dale said as the security guard moved Max’s kennel. Once Max was out of sight, Dale and Anna made their way through security and found gate C7.
“This is it. Only two and a half hours to go until boarding,” Dale commented to Anna. “It’s still hard to believe we’re leaving so soon,” Anna responded.
“I agree,” Dale said softly and stared off into the distance. Anna did not respond. It seemed as though both were thinking about what would happen next.
“Have you given any thought to what you’ll do once you get back to Alaska?” Dale asked.
“A little bit, I was thinking about heading to the coast and studying the wildlife that dwell there. A friend of mine, a professor from UAA, is studying the seal population. I think it sounds interesting, she can use the help, so I thought I’d check it out,” Anna responded.
Before Dale could respond, two adults and a small boy approached. The man asked,
“Mind if we sit down?”
Dale and Anna hadn’t noticed how crowded the terminal had gotten.
“Not at all,” responded Anna.
They all sat down.
“Where are you going?” asked Dale.
“Alaska, you?” questioned the woman.
“We are too,” said Anna, “By the way my name is Anna and this is Dale.”
“We’re the Smiths. I’m Charles, this is my wife, Janet and son, Bruce,” said the man.
“Hey, are you the people from the newspaper?” asked Bruce. Anna and Dale exchanged a look, “Newspaper?” asked Dale.
“Yeah, I was reading an article in the newspaper before we came to the airport. It was about penguin research in Antarctica and the sickness outbreak among penguins. They think the sickness was caused by a dog.”
“I guess that would be us and our dog, Max, then. We didn’t know there was a story,” replied Dale.
Just then, the airline agent came on the loudspeaker and announced pre-boarding for all passengers.
“Well it was nice meeting you, but we’ve got to board. They upgraded us to first class and we want to make the most of it” Charles said.
“See you in Alaska” responded Dale.
The trip went by quickly, despite the cramped quarters and long flight.
Anna and Dale had to wait a long time to get off the plane. The last row was no place to sit if you had very little time between flights. Lucky for them, Anchorage was their last stop. They proceeded to baggage claim to collect their luggage. On the plane Dale had decided to go with Anna to the coast and help the professor do research. All they needed to do was get their luggage, Max, and be on their way, but Max never showed up.
“Huh,” Dale said, “It must be taking them awhile to unload the luggage.”
All of the other passengers were gone and still Max was nowhere to be found. Dale and Anna ventured to the ticket counter.
“Hi, how may I help you?” asked the agent.
“My name is Dale. I’m missing my dog. He was supposed to be on the flight with us.” “Hmm, according to our records there was only one dog on the flight, and I saw a family outside with it just a minute ago,” replied the ticket lady.
Just then, Anna spotted the Smith’s through the airport’s windows.
The Smiths’ were pushing an airport cart and on that cart was a kennel. A kennel that looked exactly like Max’s!
“How dare they!” shouted Dale, as he and Anna ran through the doors to catch them.
“Stop! Stop! You have my dog!” hollered Dale.
At the sound of Dale’s voice, Max barked and the Smiths’ turned around.
“This is your dog?” questioned Mr. Smith, sounding relieved.
“Yes, so what are you doing with him?” asked Dale sternly. The tone of Dale’s voice made the man stammer,
“Oh…I…I….saw this dog running loose. I called for him and he came running. We were just on our way to bring him back inside. I thought someone would be looking for him,” replied Charles.
“Phew!” Dale and Anna sighed, “We thought we had lost him.”
“Nope, here he is. I guess he just really needed to get outside and go to the bathroom after such a long flight” said Bruce.
Dale and Anna thanked the Smith’s. Then, they went back into the airport and collected their things. They headed to the parking lot, packed up their car and began their trip to the coast, but that’s another story!