Thursday, August 31, 2017

Words from Wednesday

I'm joining again with fellow creative bloggers down under, up here and over there. Words this month have been provided by River at Drifting Through Life.  Next month's words will be found at Granny Annie's spot

"I wasn't ready for another dog!" she whispered as tears rolled down the sides of her face and into her ears. Pulling her t-shirt up over her face, she tried to dry out her ears and sat up on the sofa.  It had been seven months (2 weeks, 4 days, and 10 hours, but she really wasn't counting) since her soul-dog had died unexpectedly in her arms, and there still wasn't a night that went by that she didn't catch her breath and cry under the covers, her pillow muffling her sobs.

But there he was, at the other end of the sofa, looking as if he understood he wasn't wanted.  It was something he was familiar with, although he didn't understand it completely.  He really was a complaisant dog, there were sometimes just extenuating circumstances.

His first home had too many small children that wanted to pull on his fur. After one such torturous afternoon of bedevilment, he had reacted with a snap at some clutching little fingers.  The child jumped and fell backward with a "splat" sound from their very full diaper.  He went to a shelter that very day.

The shelter had been frightening and loud, with each dog barking in competition to get the attention of the people that would sometimes walk by.  He hadn't known what to do at first, he was so traumatized by the noise and sudden change in his environment.  He huddled in the far back of his kennel, where he could hear the rain dripping from the eaves outside at night.  It was cold in the small building where he stayed in a narrow run between two larger, and meaner, dogs.  At night he shivered, whining and sometimes howling in fear and loneliness.

One afternoon, two nuns came into the shelter. They were seeking a companionship dog for an elderly nun who had recently been ill and was now living at an institute for retired and disabled clergy men and women.  As all the dogs barked and howled, jumping at the gates to get their attention, he instead had stood in the center of the kennel, unsure of whether or not he wanted to approach the women.  One of them knelt down and tried to get him to come to the gate, but she smelled of illness, so he backed away from her and curled up in the corner with his back to the gate.

The next day a man came to the shelter. He was looking for a small dog that didn't shed much.  He had researched breeds on his computer and had heard that there was a Shih Tzu at the shelter.  

The man picked him up and looked at him.  "He'll do," he said, before paying the fee and carrying him out the door.  He didn't care what it cost, or whether or not it was friendly.  He just wanted something low maintenance so that his children would stop whining about wanting a dog since his wife had walked out on all of them.

They called him Charlie. The shelter said it had been his name before, and they thought he was about a year and a half old. As time passed, Charlie began to wonder if he wouldn't have been better off staying at the shelter.  The man would go out of town on business for several days at a time, leaving the children to take care of him. But they would all go their separate ways, to friends' houses or older siblings.  He sometimes went several days without seeing anyone, or without getting any food, water or walks.  He learned to limit how much water he drank because it became too uncomfortable to hold it, and when the man came home and found places where he had been forced to go to the bathroom, he would yell and punish Charlie.  He would howl at all hours of the day from loneliness and fear that he would be left alone forever.  

Sometimes when the man was home, the children would bring friends over and Charlie was never sure who was going to treat him nicely, or push him away.  He became afraid of strangers, and one time he even snapped at one of the children when they roughly pushed him away. He was punished by the man but wasn't taken back to the shelter.  Charlie almost wished he had been.

One day some people moved into the basement. After a while, the man went away on business again and all the children went to their friends' houses.  Charlie got hungry and lonely and started howling. Unexpectedly, he heard a voice in the back door hallway talking to him. He growled and barked, but didn't go close enough for the voice to see him.  Suddenly, a little piece of hot dog rolled across the floor, then another, and another.  He waited until the voice went away and he heard the door to the basement close before he went out to eat them.

Every night that the man was gone and the children didn't come home to feed or walk him, the voice would talk to him when he started to howl. There would be treats, or hot dogs, or some other concoction of food tossed over the pet gate that divided them.  He would wait until he heard the voice leave before he ate.

One week there was a great deal of turmoil in the house. The man was putting things in boxes, and the children were crying. Charlie didn't understand what was going on except that he heard his name mentioned a few times when the man talked on the phone or to the children's friends.  Finally, the man carried him to the basement door and knocked.  He heard the voice ask who it was, and the man said it was him and he had a favor to ask.  Could they watch Charlie for a few weeks until things got sorted out?  The man was moving far away, and the children were either staying with older siblings or their mother and couldn't take Charlie.  He would pay them.

The door opened, and for the first time, Charlie saw who the voice belonged to.  It was a woman who looked sad and lonely just like Charlie.  She reached out her arms and took him, and said that as long as it was temporary, they could watch him.  Charlie growled a little as she held him, and she whispered in his ear, "Shhh. It's okay. You won't get hurt here, you won't be left alone, and you won't ever be hungry."

Now the two of them watched TV together, went for walks, and snuggled at night.  The man never called or came back for Charlie, and Charlie didn't miss him or the children at all.  She might not have thought she was ready for another dog when they met, but she was, and Charlie knew that they were meant to be together.

3 comments:

  1. Drat you Cindi. Tears here. Rather a lot of them.

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  2. EC was right, this is a box of tissues story which hits a little close to home for me. I'm very glad someone heard poor Charlie and began feeding him little bits and eventually accepted him as hers.

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  3. Poor little soul....how wonderful he found a permanent home.

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