B-10 … The “Fiction” Tale of an Unfortunately “Too Real” Scenario…

Mutt pup

Here is the rather long post of the entire “B-10” short story, for those who have not been following along, so you can read the story in its entirety.

I.

Cold.  My tiny little body shivers as I search for the warmth, comfort, and food that I know, somehow, is Mother.  I move as best I can, desperate lunges with limbs not yet strong enough to stand, and soon feel her warm breath, her warm tongue,  followed by her cold snout as she nudges me closer to her.  I find nourishment, a bit of warmth, and, most importantly, life.  Some time passes; I can’t say how long, all I know is the cold, the bit of warmth I can get by snuggling into Mother, into my siblings.  One day my eyes, newly opened and blurred, take in the soft, black figure of my mother, the squirming, multi-colored bodies of my siblings.  My ears take in the new sounds of cries and moans that I have been making all along.  The sound of my own voice startles me.  I want nothing more than Mother, need nothing more than to stay at Mother’s side, as she is the only source of warmth and comfort in this cold, dark place.

Mother leaves us once a day… when They come.  I haven’t seen Them, but I know They exist, as Mother tells me about Them.  I hear bangs and voices, voices not like ours, and then They are here.  They look into our little house with their furless, pale faces, watching us as we lie on the barren wood floors, soaking in the cold, and talk about “getting rid of the puppies,” and “putting up a free ad.”  The next day, two of my sisters get cold.  Very cold.  Mother can’t get them warm again.  I clamber up on top of my cold siblings in an attempt to warm them up by laying on them, but it doesn’t work.  Mother gently lifts me from them and nuzzles me into her.  More time passes, and They come again, reaching Their hands into our cold, dark place, and take my two sisters away.  They don’t come back.   Mother is very sad; she tells me that they have died.  I snuggle close to my remaining four siblings; I am the biggest, and Mother tells me I need to be the brave and strong one, and protect my littler brothers and sisters.

In time (as Mother says when my belly is hungry) my limbs become strong, my eyes clear, my hearing and sense of smell sharp.  I can tell when They are coming before their feet make any sounds on the ground.   I decide to brave the cold and explore with my four other brothers and sisters, when They aren‘t around.  If They do come, I scamper as fast as I can back to our house, behind the safety that is Mother.  Mother is connected to our house by a chain and explains to us that she can’t go far.  I ask why she has such a thing on her, but she says it is not for us to know; that it is Their wish.  I, being the “brave” puppy, stray, and lead my siblings out into the frozen world, past the circle of Mother’s chain, so far she cries and begs for us to come back, because she can’t keep us safe.  One of my brothers, while following me out into this crisp new world, suddenly yips sharply.  I look around and at first don’t see him, then see only his tiny back feet, black and kicking, sticking out of the ground.  I run over to the kicking, frantic feet, and find the small hole my brother is wedged into.  I look down at him crying and struggling in the frozen earth.  I use my little yellow paws in an attempt to free him, digging at the dirt for what feels like forever, but nothing works.   He screams and cries, but I can’t help him.  I know now why Mother did not wish for us to stray.  I return to the house without my brother, hanging my head in shame that I did not protect him.  Mother runs to the end of her chain again and again, being jerked back each time, in an attempt to reach my brother.  She cannot break the chain.  My brother’s cries get weaker; Mother stays outside and tries to comfort him, telling him to be brave, and someone will help him in time.

They come out when the sun comes up next (Mother calls them “days“); from inside our wooden house, I hear my brother’s cries as They put Their hands on him and pull him from the hole, and put him back in our house.  He has a hurt leg; Mother licks it while he cries.  I cry too, and try to comfort my brother with nibbles and licks.  He continues to cry a lot for days and days.  Mother licks him a lot, and tells him he will heal.  I look at my brother and feel a mix of pity for him and relief that it wasn’t me.

The days become a bit warmer, and me and my siblings start to play more outside our “house“.  Mother watches and tries to keep us close.  Since I am the biggest, I try to keep everyone safe too, luring a sibling that has strayed too far back to our house using yips and play-bows.  My brother with the hurt paw doesn’t like to play much.  I think his paw still hurts him, so I leave him alone.  I like to play and explore.  I find oh so many sticks to carry around and chew on and play tug with.  Sometimes we find other creatures.  Mother barks and tells us to chase them, but none of them ever want to play.  When I wander too close to the long “road” where the fast things ran by, Mother cries the loudest, and I scurry back quickly to her.  She tells me that the monsters on the “road” can kill me, like the cold killed my sisters.  I don’t want to be cold and never get warm again, like them, so I decide to stay away.

When They come now, Mother shows us how to greet Them, by running out of the house and wagging our tails, and They, in turn, scatter food on the ground for us to eat.  One of Them, a very tall one, decides to pick me up.  I feel like I am jumping so high I will surely break when I fall.  But, I don’t fall.  They hold me to their faces and pet me, and I wag and lick, hoping for maybe some more scattered food after.  My belly is hungry a lot, but when I ask Mother why They don’t leave food for us more, Mother always tells me, In time.

One day, more of Them come.  Two are big, and two are little.  The little ones are so fun; Mother calls them “children,” and the big ones “people.”  She shows us how to lick and be nice to these people, even the little children.  One of the children picks me up, not my favorite thing and I get scared, but Mother reassures me.  I realize it isn’t nearly as far a drop as when the big people pick me up.  Then, the tall man person holds me up high by my neck skin.  It hurts, but I lick him like Mother taught me, even though  I’m scared.  I hear them speak, things like, “He almost looks like a purebred lab, ‘cept his ears aren’t yellow like the rest of him,“ and, “Oh Daddy, he’s the bestest puppy, he’s got a white tip on his tail and everything!  I don’t care if his ears are brown.“  The tall man doesn’t put me down, but instead begins to walk away with me.  Away from Mother and my siblings.  I look over His shoulder at my family, and begin to cry and whine.  Mother cries as well, but tries to tell me that everything will be okay.

The man puts me in one of those creatures that runs so fast down the road.  Now I am absolutely petrified.  I remember Mother telling me they could kill me!  I don’t want to be cold forever!  I cry and scratch at the creature.  The children get into the car, pushing me further into its belly, and the little girl slaps my nose with her paw, saying, “Cut it out Sparky!”  The sting hurts, and I try to crawl into a hole of this big creature at her feet, but the little boy scoops me up, saying, “Don’t hit Sparky!  He misses his mom!”  I don’t know what either of them mean, but  I want to get out of this creature, badly.  I want Mother and my brothers and sisters.  The two people get in the creature, and it begins making terrible noises, like a huge, mean, growly dog.  I scream and cry, and the people laugh or shout, “Quiet now!”  Looking around desperately, I see what looks like an opening in the creature.  Lunging for it with all my might, I smash my face into this clear wall.  It looks like air, but it is like a hard, see-through wall.  I peer outside through it, and see Mother, still wagging, watching me.  I wag to her in return, and begin to cry as loud as I can for her to come get me.  Mother barks at me to be good, and my siblings, sitting nearby, cry for me to come back.  I tell them that I’m trying, but the creature has me.  Mother tells me, again, that everything will be okay.  The creature begins to move, but, standing unsteadily from the jolting movements, I look, crying, out through it at Mother and my siblings until I can’t see them anymore.

II

Family.  This is the word the little boy uses.  “You’re part of our family now, Sparky!”  When the creature finally stops, I enter my new “family”, including a new, much bigger “house”.  I also learn quickly that a family of people is very different than Mother and my brothers and sisters.  The first thing I notice is how my paws slip all over the ground in some spots, and sink softly in others.  I try to talk to my new family, but none of them seem to understand me.  The smells are not like the out-of-doors at all!  Smells of food I recognize, but other smells are a mystery.  The woman person in my new family sprays awful smelling things most of the time.  I try to avoid the rooms she happens to be in.  Sometimes she sprays me with things, and if I lick myself after, it tastes just awful, worse than sticks even!  I love the smell of my boy the most; he smells like dirt and food and sugar!  My girl is a close second, smelling of sweets and candy.  She and the woman call me “Smelly” sometimes, but since everybody mostly calls me “Sparky”, I figure that is what they say when they want me.  I often get caught up in the woman’s legs; she moves so quickly and I just can’t seem to get away from them.  She steps on me a lot, and each time I cry, like when one of my siblings would hurt me on accident, but she never seems to learn.

My new family has given me so many things!  So many things to chew and play with!  I chew on lots of things, because sometimes my teeth are hurting me now.  The man person gets very mad when I chew on some things, like what they call my “bed” and Their “shoes”.  The bed was the most fun thing, such fun to take the fluffiness in that toy and run all over the house with it.  Most of my other toys, after I chew them for awhile, get taken away by the woman person and put in the “trash”.  They put lots of wonderful things in this trash, and I love exploring inside it and getting interesting things out of it.  The woman will stomp towards me yelling if I try to take something out; it’s a wonderful game to take things really fast and run just as fast as I can away from her.  She doesn’t seem to think it is that fun though.

A big thing about this new huge house is pottying.  I always knew not to go in my house with Mother and my siblings, but this place is so big, I don’t see the harm in it.  The slippery parts of the ground, or “floor” are too hard for me to get proper footing, but there are these nice soft parts that I like to sleep on sometimes, and my feet can get a nice grip, so I usually go there.  Sometimes, after going, I’ll be playing with one of the children, and one of the big people will come after me with a crinkley paper stick and hit me with it a few times, and the man person will throw me outside.  I don’t understand why they suddenly become so mad, but it scares me.  I like being with my kids the best.  The girl sometimes hits me, but the boy is my most favorite person in the world.  I love playing with my kids, and jump and play bite as they laugh and scream, sort of like playing with my siblings.  As I get big, my once little yellow paws are now as big as the kids’ hands.  I smack and paw at them as I play, but the kids don’t seem to want to play anymore.  Especially the girl.  She will call to the big people, knowing that I will stop playing then.  I don’t understand why she does that.  Eventually, even my boy will sometimes cry and call to the big people instead of laughing like he used to.  I start to hear the big people say, “He’s getting too damn big.”

One day, the big people bring in this monstrous cage, a “crate”.  It is loud and scary in there, and they start putting me in it all the time.  I cry and howl; the big people kick the crate and yell for me to “shut up”.  My boy will sometimes let me out without the big people knowing, and we still play.  I try hard not to make him cry, but sometimes I still do.  He pats my head after, and tells me, “I know you’re trying to be a good dog.”  I don’t know what “good dog” means, but I sure do know “bad dog”.  That’s my other name, the one the big people and sometimes my girl use when they come running at me for some reason.  One time, as the big man spanks me for some unknown reason, he yells, “Quit – shitting – on – the – floor,” with each slap.  Those times are the worst.  The petting, I love the petting, but not the hitting.  I never know which I will get from the big people, but I learn how to tell by the way they are moving and the way their voice sounds, so I know when to run to my crate.

Even though I don’t understand a lot of what they do, I love my new “family” with everything I have.  Mother was right, everything turned out okay with my new family.  When they pet me and feed me I try to show them how much I like it by jumping and wagging, but that mostly makes them go away again.  I don’t want to hurt them.  I just want to love them.  I spend more and more time in my “crate” with no blankie, no toys like I had when I first came.  I feel lonely and sad sometimes, but my family is very busy too, and I try to be quiet in my crate.  Sometimes I have to cry, but mostly I try to devour every little bit of attention any of my family gives me.

III

Some time passes, as time tends to do.  I’m laying in my crate, wondering when I’ll be let out, when there is a knock.  We have “visitors”.  Visitors are my absolute favorite; they usually give me lots of pets and let me jump all over them.  My family usually puts me in my crate when visitors come, but this time they let me out!  I’m so excited I tear out of that crate like the man is chasing me and race toward the visitors.  They are two young women people, and they try to pick me up but I’m getting really big, so they kneel down and let me lick and jump all over them!  And they laugh while I do it!  I am in heaven!  The women talk to my family, and I notice my boy is crying.  I race over to him to give him kisses, and he drops to the floor, putting his arms around me and crying into my fur.  I begin to feel something is wrong.  I whine and nudge my boy, but he doesn’t respond.  One of the young women takes me by the collar, putting a “leash” on me, and my boy stays kneeling on the floor, looking at me and saying, “Bye Sparky.  You were a good boy.”  I whine as the women walk toward the door.  I am attached to them by the leash, and my family is standing there, watching me be pulled away.  I try to dig my feet into the slippery floor, but it doesn’t work.  My boy cries softly into his mother’s stomach.  When they pull me out the door and shut it, I think perhaps they are taking me out to pee, so I start to look for a spot.  But no, they are pulling me toward one of those creatures, the race along the road creatures.  Panic stops my heart for a moment.  Not in there again.  I run as fast as I can the other way, but the leash stops me.  The young women are speaking nicely to me, but I can tell they want me to get in the creature.  They are much bigger than me though, and Mother taught me never to bite the people, so when they both pick me up and gently toss me into the back of the creature, I simply stiffen and whine.  Again I find the clear wall, and look out at my house, where my family is.  Do they know these women put me in a creature?  Do they know it’s moving and taking me away from them?

The creature moves for a long time.  It upsets my stomach so much that I vomit.  The women stop a few moments later and take me out.  One of them, the one who smells like flowers, with long hair, walks me around, talking to me in a sweet, sing-song voice.  The other, who smells like clean laundry, remains in the creature.  I put up no resistance when they want me to get into the creature this time, thinking they’ll be taking me back to my family now.  I notice that my vomit is gone, but now the car smells like the things the woman in my family sprayed, and I get nauseous again.  More moving, going past all sorts of trees and houses and then just mostly houses, big ones.  We finally stop at one, and on wobbly legs, I walk into the door they open up for me.  This house doesn’t have any slippery floors, and has all sorts of toys!  I wonder if the toys are for me, or if I will be spanked for chewing them.  One of the girls starts throwing a toy for me, and I chase it.  They laugh and laugh, and I wag and jump on them.  They pet me and tell me I’m “adorable”.  We play for a long time, and they take me for potty trips and let me sniff whatever I want!  They tell me that I am “theirs” now.  I am not sure what that means, but I am so happy to get some attention.

The girls, who I call flower girl and laundry girl, go to “college” and I stay in my crate when they go.  Sometimes it’s a long time, sometimes not quite so long.  We get visitors all the time, and I even get to see them and play with them!  There are so many people, all the time!  I am not sure if they are all my new “family” or not, but they sure are fun!  Although they are big people, they act like kids a lot of the time, and take me for walks and throw balls for me and have lots of energy!  Sometimes they forget to fill up my food and water bowls, but I don’t mind too much.  In time, as Mother would say.  My girls pay a lot of attention to me when they happen to be home, which is heaven for me!  Most of the visitors like me, some give me what they call “beer” to drink.  I really like it; it makes me feel a little sick feeling sometimes, and my legs don’t move right.  Mother always taught me to take what I was given though, because you never know when you’re going to get something else.

My girls are my new family after all!  I didn’t know I could love them as much as my “old” family, but I do!  I miss my old family, but my new family is fun and interesting!  Time seems to fly on wings of happiness.  One day, we get a new visitor.  I can tell that flower girl is nervous; she looks through the hole in the door, as she always does, and then at me.  I can smell fear on her as she calls me, and I don’t want to come.  Have I done something wrong?  I tuck my tail and walk slowly to her.  She quickly grabs my collar and runs with me to the bedroom, and shuts the door behind me.  A new game, perhaps?  I begin to scratch at the door and bark, wondering when she will “appear” again.  I hear voices.  A deep, man’s voice I don’t know, talking to laundry girl.  I bark loudly, wishing to protect my family.  In a moment, the bedroom door opens, and flower girl, who won’t look at me, allows me out.  I see the man, who is now yelling about a “lease” and repeatedly yelling, “He’s got to go today!”  I keep my distance, but continue barking at him.

When he leaves, flower girl and laundry girl begin to cry.  I know that when people cry, it’s usually because I’ve done something wrong.  I slink over to them, going belly up. They stroke my short fur, kiss my brown nose, rub my ears, and tell me they love me.  I don’t understand; what have I done now?  They get my leash, and I get excited!  We’re going for a walk!  They aren’t sad after all!

We don’t go for a walk, though.  We go in the creature.  I hate this creature so much; it always means something bad.  I love my girls though, and want to make them happy, but they won’t stop crying.  One of them talks into the “phone” while the other drives.  The talking one keeps asking, “Can you take our dog?  Even just for a few days?  Well, thanks anyway.”  I don’t know what they mean, but I know they are sad.

We arrive at this place.  A place that smells funny.  I can smell dogs, and I can smell the smell of my sisters, when they got cold forever.  The smell fills me with terror; I hear other dogs inside, barking angry, sad, and terrified barks.  This, is not the “vet” like my other family took me to in the creature; this is something else.  I decide I’m not going in there.  I plant my feet and refuse to move.  Flower girl pulls and begs, then laundry girl gives me some cookies.  I eat them, and of course I want more, so when they keep walking I follow them, getting cookies all the way.  What fun!  This place can’t be too bad if I get cookies all the time!  Flower girl opens up a big door, and I begin to hear and smell the dogs more clearly.  Most are yelling to get out.  Panic takes over again, and I back up, struggling and slamming against my collar, which will not come loose.  Flower girl drags me through the door, tears streaming down her face.  There is a tall counter, taller than I’d ever be able to steal food off, and laundry girl approaches it, talking with a woman while flower girl sits next to me, hugs me, and feeds me more cookies.  I can’t eat the cookies anymore; I know something is wrong.  All too soon, a large woman approaches me, and flower girl hands her my leash.  They bend over, petting me and saying the words they usually say when they leave for “college”, but this time they are so sad.  I don’t want them to be sad, so I lick them and wag, telling them it will be okay; I will wait for them in this horrible place if that is what they want.  They quickly back out of the door; I see them walking back to the creature quickly.  I whine a little; why can’t they take me back with them?  Why do I need to wait here?  The big woman holding my leash tries to tell me I’m a “good dog”.  I don’t feel like a good dog.

The big woman who now holds my leash talks to me, but I don’t hear what she’s saying.  I follow her, as I assume this is what I am supposed to do.  She puts me into a cage, a bigger cage than the “crate” I had with my first family, and the other dogs all bark to me.  None of them seem to know why we all have to wait here, but wait we must.  I will wait; my girls will come for me soon.

IV

It has been many days since I have seen my girls.  Many people walk past my cage every day.  Some give me food and water, some simply look at me and move on.  At first, I stay in the far corner, waiting for my girls, but soon I start to look for them, and I jump up against the cage every time I hear someone, thinking it may be one of my girls, or even my little boy.  It never is.  The big woman usually lets me out once a day into this dirt pen, and throws a ball for me.  She is a nice woman, but she is not my family.  When she tries to catch me to take me back to the cage I don’t come, but she eventually gets me.  So many people are always walking by.  Some of them stop to stick their fingers through my cage.  I lick them and wag and leap against the wire.  No matter what, I always check to see if it is my family, even my old family, coming to get me.  It is cold in this cage, and I don’t want to be cold forever, like my sisters.  The other dogs bark a lot, telling mournful stories of their lost families too.  We are all waiting.  The dog next to me, an old black dog, becomes a friend.  He mostly lays on the cold cement, even though it hurts him.  He tells me of his family, a family he has had for many years, way longer than I’ve ever had one, and his wonderful kids.  He misses them even more than I miss my family, if that is possible.  One day, my old friend gets taken out of his cage and never comes back.  I wonder if his family came for him, but the other dogs say he went into “the room”.  The room is the room with that smell.  The other dogs smell that smell, the smell my sisters had when Mother told me they had died.  Cold forever.  A new dog, a small jumping dog who only talks about tennis balls, is put in the old black dog’s cage.  He’s kind of annoying, so I mostly ignore him.  I miss my old black friend.  I wish I had a chance to tell him good-bye and good luck.

One day, a man comes and looks into my cage.  He’s a tall man, and when he speaks to me I jump up onto the cage like always.  He stands there for some time, looking at me, and looking at something on my cage.  The big woman comes over and begins talking to him, saying things like “only eight months old” and “will have to agree to get him neutered”.  The man mentions “wanting a dog for the kids”.  I perk up at that word.  I know that word.  Kids are little people, like my boy.  Do I get to see some kids?  The big woman leans over and asks, “Do you want to go home?”  Home?  To flower and laundry girl?  You bet!  I begin to bark and spin; she and the man laugh.  The big woman opens my cage door, catching me and putting a leash on.  She leads me a different way now, out to the area where I first came in.  I see the door leading to the outside, to where my girls left.  I look for them to walk up the path; any minute now!  The man writes on some papers while the big woman holds me by my leash, and then she hands it to him.  Is this man going to take me to my home?  I forge ahead of him, and suddenly he jerks the leash hard, yelling, “Heel!”  My throat hurts, and I cough, then surge forward again.  He jerks again, and I fly backwards, coughing again.  I decide that this man must want to go first, and meekly follow him to the biggest road monster I have ever seen.  He opens a door and before I know it he has picked me up and deposited me inside.  I scramble all over, trying to get to one of the clear walls, but he grabs my leash and pulls it again, yelling, “Lay down!”  I have no idea what that means, but I stop moving.  The man is a bit scary to me, but if he is taking me to my girls, I don’t care.

We drive for only a short time, not nearly as far as my girls drove with me, before stopping in front of a large house.  I don’t recognize this house, and I don’t understand why we are stopping.  Are we visiting, like my girls used to do with me?  I remember going to see their “friends” at different houses.  Maybe this was a “friend” too!  He mentioned kids; maybe kids are in there!  I surge towards the house, only to be flung backwards again by the man yanking my leash.  He leads me not to the house, but to a small wood house, almost just like the one I was born in.  I feel a pain of missing Mother and my siblings.  There is a chain connected to this house, just like Mother was on.  The man hooks me to it, pats me on the head, and walks away.  I move to follow, only to be brought up short by the chain.  Is this where my girls will come get me?  Do I have to stay outside and wait now?  My confusion is overcome eventually by the need to sleep, and although my belly is hungry, I go into the opening of the little house, so much like Mother’s, and curl up, trying to stay warm.

Night passes slowly, and by morning I am starving.  I stare at the house, wondering if the man is coming out soon.  I perk up as every monster goes by, looking for the one containing my girls.  When the sun is high in the sky, the man appears with some bowls.  I leap into the air with joy, pulling against my chain and spinning.  The man puts the bowls down, and I eat the food ravenously.  It isn’t as much as I am used to, but eases the pains in my belly.  The man watches me, and talks about training me to be a “guard dog”.  I don’t know what that is, but I know that training word; that is when the cookies come out!  I eagerly jump on the man, not able to contain my joy about training.  I feel a sharp pain on my head, and realize the man has struck me.  He continues to rain blows down upon my head, yelling words I don’t understand.  I cower, confused, not knowing what to do.  Finally it stops, and the man turns and returns to the house.  I race into my house, my head aching.  I remember my first family hitting me with rolled paper, but never with their bodies.  I decide that this man cannot be trusted.

V

I am unsure how much time has passed.  My days consist of pacing on my chain, beatings from the man, and sometimes getting fed.  No kids ever appear, only the man.  Every time I try to show affection to the man by jumping I receive a beating.  He uses his hands, his feet.  Sometimes it is only one blow, sometimes it is so many I am sore for days after.  The man won’t beat me if I crawl to him on my belly, and won’t feed me if I don’t come out of my house, so I have learned to crawl to him for my meals.  The man has “visitors” too.  I used to love visitors, but these ones come and tease me, staying out of my reach and sometimes poking at me with sticks or throwing things at me.  They laugh as I bark; this seems to please the man, when I bark at people, so I start to do it no matter who comes.  I bark and bark, and the man says a rare, “Good dog”.  He likes it even more if I lunge to the end of my chain and bark at them.  These visitors are never friendly, so I want to keep them away from me.

Many more days pass in this fashion.  I bark and lunge at visitors, and crawl to the man.  I still check to make sure my girls or even my boy aren’t the visitors before I begin my barking and lunging.  I guess this is my new “home”.  I live in fear every day of being hit, but desperately try to gain my master’s affection by showing mine to him.  He feeds me most days, and when it starts getting really cold, he puts some straw in the house.  I wonder if Mother has straw in her house.  I hope she does.

I wake up one morning to the sound of the monster.  I race out of my house, as I always do, hoping the man is finally going to take me to my girls, or at least take me with him so I can spend time with him.  As always though, he leaves in the monster.  This day, though, some visitors come.  I know what the man wants me to do, so I bark and choke myself at the end of my chain.  Suddenly, my chain breaks free!  I begin to run to the people, wagging my tail, but they quickly get into their monster and leave.  I begin running around the house for the sheer joy of running, dragging my chain along behind me.  I know the man will be home soon, and will probably beat me, so I begin to walk along the road, away from my little house with the straw.  Mother always told me not to go on the road, but I have to find my girls.  I keep walking for a long time, and when it is dark, I make my way into an area with some trees, laying down on a bed of pine needles.  My stomach is aching with hunger, but I manage to fall asleep.

Every day I walk, every day I search, but I realize I am hopelessly lost.  It has been many days since I have seen the man, and I know I am far from his house.  I find food sometimes, in large cans next to the road; people come out of their homes and chase me away.  I don’t know whether I can trust these people, so I run away.  The air is almost always cold, but if I walk I keep warm, so I continue on.  I find another can the next day, and knock it over, ripping into the bag within.  A little girl opens the door.  A kid!  I am overjoyed to see a little human, and begin to crawl to her, like I would the man.  The little girl bends down and pets me on my head.  I roll over onto my belly, and she laughs, rubbing it.  A woman person appears behind the girl, and calls to her.  She and the woman talk, and I decide to crawl to the woman as well.  She pets me, and tells me “It’s okay”.  She takes my chain and walks toward the house.  I follow joyfully.  I smell another dog in the home, but I am quickly shut in a room by myself.  I smell laundry and see a soft bed, like the one I had at my very first home.  I lay down on it, my achy body melting into its softness.  The woman returns shortly with some food and water, and I crawl to her.  She pets me and tells me it is okay, that “they” will come for me soon.  I don’t know who “they” are, but I hope this woman has found my girls… even my boy and his family.  I would go back to the man’s house, but fear how angry he will be with me for leaving.  I eat the food so quickly I vomit some back up, but slurp it up again quickly so it isn’t taken away from me.  The woman closes me in the room again, and, in my exhaustion, I fall asleep.

I wake to the sound of voices, and the woman opening the door.  Another woman is standing with her, and talks to me in a soothing voice.  I crawl over to her, and she takes hold of my chain, calling me a “good dog” and asking if I want to go for a ride.  Ride.  I know that word.  As much as I hate the dreaded monsters, they may take me home, so I follow behind her, my tail between my legs, as she walks out to it.  I look out of the clear wall, hoping against hope that I will see my girls’ house soon.  What I see is the place I was before the man came to get me.  So it’s here again, to wait.  I decide this is a better fate than going back to the man’s house, since this is where my girls left me, and is surely where they will find me again.  I look for the big woman as we enter the doors, but nobody is familiar to me.  They call me a “stray” and I hear someone shout, “Put him in kennel B-10”.  The woman leads me to a cage, and says, “Okay B-10, you be a good boy now.”  A good boy.  I always try to be just that, but I never seem to succeed.

VI

The waiting begins again.  The waiting, and the watching.  Watching people walk by the kennels, waiting for one of my families to find me.  My neighbors this time are a young yellow dog like me, and another old black fellow.  I get along with both of them just fine, and they are waiting for their families too.  I tell them about my Mother and siblings, my first family with my kids, my precious, beloved girls, and the man, and how he would hit me, but gave me food and a house.  The young dog next to me said he had a man who hit him too.  The old black dog spoke, just as my previous neighbor, of having one family for a very long time.  As time passes, both of them are taken out of their cages, and I never see them again.  They both are walked to “the room”.  I fear that room with all of my heart.

My neighbors are replaced by new neighbors; several tiny puppies on one side, and a very mean large white dog on the other.  This dog lets me know by his growls that he wants nothing to do with me, so we don’t speak.  I talk to the puppies instead, telling them it will be okay, just like my Mother used to tell me.  One by one, families come and look at them, and they go out towards the front, not to “the room”.  A new dog, a scruffy brown fellow, is put in next.  He tells me that he has been here many times, and that the dogs who go into “the room” are the ones that die.  He tells me that his old cage was right next to the room, and he could see the bodies inside, the ones that were dead and stayed cold forever.  He thinks he will go there this time, and has had so many families he can’t keep them straight anymore.  I tell him of my past families, and we mourn together quite often.  Every day, he wonders aloud if it is his day to go to “the room”.  I try not to think of the room, the room where the smell of death comes from.  I wait for my family, for any of my families, even a new one, to find me.  I wag and bark at the people passing by.  Some people stop at my kennel, and I jump up and lick their extended fingers, but nobody even comes to let me out anymore.  I try to be patient, and remember my Mother’s words… in time.

***********

Shelter log:

Kennel B-10:  Yellow lab mix, Male, Stray, Un-neutered, approx. 1-2 years old.  Appears to have no training, some fearful behaviors,  gets along well with other dogs and children.

Admit date 10/18/11.  One month limit is up.  We have no room.

Disposition:  euthanasia.

Euthanasia date:  11/20/11.  We tried.

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