A/N: The condor at the beginning of this story is just a plot point leading into the real story. The dogs are the main characters here.


DON'S IMPORTANT TASK

One day, in the Rocky Mountains of North America, three dogs were running after another animal. The dogs were a German Shepherd named Delta, a Golden Retriever named Omega, and a Mini-Australian Shepherd named Aiwha. They were a team of dog buddies trying to track down and capture a rare California Condor that had an injured wing for their master, who wanted to heal the bird and then sell it for lots of money. Right now, they were on the trail of the bird, which had a difficult time either flying or gliding due to its wing. Evidently, the dogs' master didn't care if he got in trouble with the law, or he thought he could easily outwit it, or something.

Meanwhile, another dog in their team, a Beagle named Don, was enjoying the day gazing at the flowers and bushes all around him. It made him so happy to see such a nice, beautiful place that wasn't all barren of life. Suddenly, the condor sailed past him, and a second later, all the other dogs bumped into him and they all fell over.

The dogs "spoke" to each other through their technological collars. "Thanks a lot, Don!" said Aiwha.

"Now look what you've done!" agreed Omega.

"Hey, fellas," said Don excitedly, with a grin, "It's a beautiful day outside. Why don't we celebrate it? It's Earth Day, after all! Happy Earth Day!"

"Dogs don't celebrate Earth Day!" Omega and Aiwha growled.

"Silence!" said Delta sternly in a voice deeper than the deepest well. "Don, it seems you just can't do your share of the important work today, can you?"

"Yeah, sorry," said Don, smiling sheepishly, "It's just that it's such a beautiful day out here, right?"

"Look, Don," said Delta, "I have an important task for you. You get to do it all by yourself."

"Oh, an important task?" said Don, "Oh, goody! What is it, master? I know I can do it!"

"I'm sure you can," said Delta, "I want you to keep watch over this big boulder over here." He gestured to the said boulder, about six feet away from them.

"Uh, why that boulder?" asked Don.

"Because it's the bird's favorite boulder," snapped Delta, "Now do as you're told! Omega, Aiwha, follow me!" And he and the other two bigger dogs ran off in pursuit of the bird again.

Don looked at the big stone. "Hey, I think I'll stand on top of it, to get a better view." He climbed on top of the rock. "Now, don't you go rolling anywhere without my permission, boulder," he said, "I'm a good watchdog, and I'll notice if you move." To prove his point, he playfully hopped up and down on the boulder.

But then, as he kicked it about, it started to roll, and Don found himself running backwards on it in order to stay on. "Oh, boy," he said, "Hey, boulder, I told you not to roll! Hey, don't go so fast, I can't keep up!" He ran as fast as he could while the boulder continued to increase speed, but finally, he fell off.

The bird hopped/flew by below, and as Delta and his pack started to turn a corner, the boulder landed on top of them. They only survived because the rocks on either side of their stopping point prevented the boulder from falling far enough to crush them.

"Hey guys," Don shouted at them, "The boulder got away from me!"


Minutes later, a sullen Delta gave Don another "important task." "I want you to stand watch over this hole in the ground, Don," he said, "because it's the bird's favorite hiding place around here. Let's go, troops!" He and his two partners ran off again.

"Ooh," said Don, "This should be fun. Look at me. I'm standing watch! I'm standing watch! I'm standing watch! I'm sinking watch! I'm…sinking watch?" he said as he realized that he was falling through the hole like it was full of quicksand. "Wow! I'm sinking through the Earth! No wonder the bird thinks this is his favorite hole. He can slink away from anything when quicksand pulls him in!"

Don sank more and more, faster and faster, but before he could run out of air, he fell out of the bottom of the hole and on top of something fleshy. He thought he had caught the bird at first, but then he saw…

"You again?!" said Omega. "I don't believe this!" said Aiwha.

"That was fun, guys," Don said, "You should try it next time."


"Now, I want you to sit on that rock this time," said Delta.

"What, this one?" Don asked, hopping on said rock. The larger rock the other dogs stood on swayed, tottered, and fell down, taking the hapless dogs with it.


"When the bird comes this way, spring this trap!" Delta sulked at Don.

"You mean this snare rope?" Don asked, springing it. Delta got caught in it and hung upside down.


"Whatever you do, don't fire those sleeping toxin darts until the bird passes in front of them!" ordered Delta.

"Okay, I won't," said Don, and he accidentally triggered the darts, almost hitting the other dogs, though Omega got grazed by one and passed out for a while.


"Hey, I think I saw the bird go that way!" said Dug a little while later, as he ran in front of the other dogs on unsteady rock towers. His weight knocked them all over, and Delta, Omega, and Aiwha, who were running behind him and insisted that they were supposed to be in front, fell down with them, hitting the lower ground again.

"Oh, hey, are you guys okay down there?" Don asked well-meaningly.

"You are in such big trouble, Don," said Delta, "I'm calling the master and telling him to tell you off when we return!" Over radio waves, Delta called their master and reported how much trouble Don should be in. Don felt down, and decided to walk away for a bit. As he left, he heard Aiwha mock him about how much trouble he was in, and Omega said a sarcastic, "Yeah! Happy Earth Day, bum!"

"This isn't turning out to be such a good day after all," Don mused sadly to himself. Then he looked around the area, seeing stones that looked like a bear, a frog, and a man. But then…

What do you know? Over there in the distance were a man in his late middle age and a girl who must have been his granddaughter talking to each other about how much fun it was to be hiking in the mountains. Don sensed that they had noticed his presence, and he shouted out through his collar, "I can smell you! And you smell very tasty!"

The man and the girl stopped in surprise to hear that. Don came out of the shadows and came up to them. The girl said, "Oh, look, grandpa, it's a little puppy! Oh, can we keep him, grandpa, can we, can we?"

Don thought to himself, "Maybe this is going to be a good Earth Day after all. They even look like they care about the Earth."

The girl walked up to him and said, "Speak, doggy." She expected him to bark or woof, but instead he said, "Hi there! Happy Earth Day!"

The man and his granddaughter started in shock.