By Pamela Schloesser Canepa
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It’s dark, and I am locked in a cage. The man in uniform said he was taking me to a better life. Could’ve fooled me. I am alone and sleeping on a cold, steel floor at night. There are other dogs whimpering around me. Yeah, not a great life.
Granted, I am getting fed regularly. Check. I also have people coming so see me. Check. I am kept warm in here. Check. Some of these people are nice and they pet me. I get let out of the cage now and then, and people will hold me and pet me. They put me in a little room with these people and they try to pet me some more. That’s kind of nice, only, there are so many smells in that room. I can’t control myself. Someone’s already marked it….I have to leave mine too!
One of the kids screamed when I did that; I must’ve aimed a little too close to his leg. Oops. They didn’t stay long. Back to the cage I went.
But on the way, who should I see but one of the big dogs. They think they’ll bully me because I’m small. No sir. Not me. I’ve scared many people away with my bark. I can bark louder than the biggest of dogs. And if they try to get too close, oh, I’ll take one of their heads off. Believe me. It hasn’t gotten to that yet, but I’ll be ready.
Like I said, the food comes regularly, and that’s kind of nice, but I must say, it’s not as tasty as some of those foods I found while on the run. Hang out behind the right restaurant or outside the right house, and something tasty is bound to fall out of an overflowing trash can or get thrown at me by a careless restaurant worker. I’ll take it all, and some of it is still warm.
So, yeah, there are a few perks, but I’m starting to think this is no better than the freedom I had. That, and it is awfully lonely in here at night with no sound but the whining of some of the younger dogs or first night dogs. None of us likes to think about our first night. Some of us don’t want to think about why we’re here, either.
I wasn’t always a homeless, lone dog. My life started out in a small, cozy home in South Carolina. I had a family with a mom, a dad, a young boy, and an even younger girl. I was taken from my own family because, as they said, my “father was a tramp and a scoundrel.” My mom was “pedigreed,” a pretty little fluffy dog. They used to make a fuss over my cute, fluffy tail, saying that was the one thing I inherited from her. I guess the rest of me was too plain. Someone said I had to go, and so did my brothers and sisters. I’ve never seen them since.
My new family was so happy when they first saw me. The old family had placed an ad, and these people came to look at us. Two of my brothers were already gone.
“We have to get a male,” the man said. So the owner pointed me and my brother out.
The woman pointed at me.
“How cute! I can’t believe he’s free,” she said.
“Yep, Laurie. It’s a great deal. My kind of deal, but we’d have to pay for vet bills.”
Laurie knit her brow in worry. “Ed, there’s no turning back now. Look at Misha.”
Misha must’ve been the little girl, because they were both looking at her. There was a boy, but Misha had to be the one who was holding me and petting me between my ears. I was, of course, eating up all the attention. I already loved this little girl, and she would grow to be my best friend.
As I grew, I would run off now and then. There was so much that seemed to beckon me. I’d always go back for Misha. But I really loved chasing after girl dogs. Hey, I am a dog, after all. Laurie and Ed, that was his name, would act really inconvenienced and talk about getting me “fixed.” What did that mean? Would it hurt? He did sort of have a mean tone when he said it. I wasn’t so sure about this Ed character. After all, I always came back. There was no need to be drastic.
One time, I guess I was gone too long. Ed lost it. I mean he seriously LOST his cool. He was always twitchy anyway, but I guess this time really pushed him. I know little Misha was worried and crying, but I think Ed went too far.
It was just an adventure for me. I didn’t mean to upset Misha or Ed or anyone else for that matter. I’d just go and run, dodging the cars, crossing the street, and sometimes running into some stray dogs. They had no human family. They’d look down on me like I was “owned,” but they’d probably never know my feeling of belonging. I had a home, a place I’d return to within the hour. This time, I had grown tired of the strays and entered an unknown neighborhood, where Lady and her owners sat on the porch.
I ran up to Lady, nosing and sniffing her, planting my paws on the ground and growling playfully. Her owners were nice but they distanced me from her a couple of times. I was just so excited!
One of them said the word, “home,” and I briefly thought of Misha. She’d be missing me by now. Which way was home anyway? I wasn’t sure Lady’s owners were quite nice. One of them went inside.
Soon, Ed drove up with Laurie and Misha in the car. He dragged me by the collar all the way to the car and slammed the door. Misha was happy and hugging me all over. But Ed had an edge to his voice, worse than usual.
“Bad dog,” he said, bopping me on the nose.
Misha just hugged me tighter. Ed said nothing to her. Lady’s owners looked worried, standing on their porch, watching us leave. They seemed a little scared to let me leave with this guy. There was something in Ed’s tone of voice.
I was just as glad to see Misha as she was to see me, so much so that I forgot about Lady dog. All in all, it had been a good day, except for the look in Ed’s eyes. He kept glancing back at me and Misha as he drove.
Later, when we got home, he sent Misha to her room.
“He’s been bad. You don’t need to be here to see this.” He grabbed me by the collar again.
It was very uncomfortable. That told me everything; I didn’t need to know what his words meant.
Crying, Misha closed her bedroom door upstairs. I felt a growl rise up in my throat. Shame on him for making her cry! Mind you, I was just shy of a year old, but my instinct was to hurt whoever hurt her. Curse that Ed. He didn’t need my protecting.
First, there came a blow to the head, apparently from his hand. I couldn’t do much; his other hand had me by the collar. All I could do was whimper.
“Never, ever run off again!” He let me go, and I cowered in a corner, but I’d be ready to pounce if he raised his hand again.
He walked over to me with his belt in his hand. This was trouble.
“You run off again, and this is what you get, to the back!”
I growled. He pushed over the chair I hid behind.
“You dare to growl at me?” His face got even redder.
I couldn’t help it, he was raising the growl out of me. The whole situation made me feel really threatened.
He spat at me, “You nasty little cur!” With that, he left the room.
I quietly slinked out of the doggie door in the kitchen. Laurie came out and found me sulking, so she came over to pet me, but I stood and, flinching, wouldn’t let her pet my head.
“It’s okay, Woofie, I won’t hurt you.” She picked me up and put me in her lap. So I let her pet me.
Ed’s voice came from the kitchen, though.
“Leave that dog alone! He has to learn his lesson.”
“Sorry, Woofie. I have to follow directions.” Laurie put me down, and I sulked in the corner again. How could she stand that man?
I could’ve left then, Lord knows their screen door latch was no good and I could’ve gotten it open. Instead, I waited for Misha to come down. She finally did, and she was still crying.
This was the reason I stayed here with this family. Sure, Ed and Laurie fed me, and Laurie did seem to care, but it was Misha who loved me.
If I could’ve taken that girl away from there, I would have. Instead, I stayed and befriended her, giving her a shoulder to lean on when her dad was cross with her or her parents were arguing. I looked at Ed through wary eyes, always on my guard around him. I really hope he is being good to Misha.
Sadly, I may never know. Ed and Laurie had a decent house, but it was old. And why didn’t they have a working smoke detector? Ed said something about a “landlord.”
One night, I smelled smoke and heard a weak beep. It was that sorry smoke detector. Three beeps and it died. The first thing I did was run to Misha’s bed and nudge her. She was the most important thing to me. She ran right away to her parents’ room. Finally, the alarm sounded loudly. It was earth shattering and piercing, just as the first flames appeared when we raced down the stairs. I must’ve been whimpering; Ed told me to shut up.
Misha was crying too, and so was Laurie. He didn’t tell them to shut up. Laurie grabbed her handbag by the EZ chair and Ed grabbed her arm.
“I have the keys to the truck in there, Ed!”
“Okay, okay, come on! Let’s go!”
We were all out the door in no time flat, and they put me in the back of the truck.
“Wait, Laurie! The firemen are here.” Ed got out, and Laurie just leaned back in the car, looking defeated. She ran a dirty looking hand across her forehead, leaving a streak. Misha climbed up front and leaned against her mom’s shoulder.
Looking through at them in the truck’s cab, I felt left out. Everyone had forgotten me. Still, I waited patiently. Someone would remember I was here.
For that night, and several to follow, we were staying at someone else’s house, since Ed and Laurie’s house was destroyed. Well, they were staying at someone else’s house. I, on the other hand, was tied up in the back of the truck. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. At least Misha would walk me once in a while.
People would pass by and pet me, but some of the neighbor boys threw rocks at me. I really growled when they moved closer. It serves them right. Man, it was really rough when it rained. I’d hide under a tarp Ed had in the back of his truck. I could tell the weather was turning colder.
One morning, the screen door slammed. Out came Ed, with Misha behind him, crying.
“Get back in there, Misha,” he ordered. “He’s been scaring the neighbor kids, and we need to be able to stay here.”
“They were being mean to him!” Misha ran up to me and gave me a hug, which made me feel really good, but I didn’t like that look in Ed’s eyes.
“Let him go, Misha,” he said. “Say your goodbyes. He’s gonna get a new family. He’ll be fine.” He gently put his hand on her shoulder. Then he got in, started the truck, and pulled out of the driveway.
Misha sat on the front stoop, tears running down her face. I still don’t understand why it had to be that way.
It seemed to be hours before he stopped the truck. We were in front of a house, only, it didn’t look like any family lived there. He left me standing in the driveway. No one came out to greet me. Where was my new family?
I could run anywhere I wanted now, but I didn’t want to. I sat there for a moment, not realizing right away that the joke was on me. And what a cruel joke it was.
Ed’s truck raced off into the darkness. Did he realize he left me here all alone, in front of an abandoned house? Would he come back?
Since it was Ed, no, he wouldn’t feel sorry or realize his mistake and come back for me. Not on your life.
So now I was left to fend for myself. Gone were the days when Misha held me like a baby wrapped in a blanket, tucking me into her doll crib. No one filled my bowl before I got hungry. I had to search, and search I did.
After sniffing the front door of the house where Ed left me, I became aware of the reality before me. No one was going to feed me, I had to feed myself, and I wasn’t getting into that house for shelter either. Staying here was not the answer.
Even poor little Misha had no real home now. I don’t know who those people were at the new house, but it was apparent Misha, Ed, and Laurie would not stay there forever. Plus, the owners made it clear I was not welcome.
I must have looked a horrible mess. As I got closer to town, the place with a lot of lights, more buildings, parked cars and moving cars, I also saw some people. They seemed to look on me with pity and disgust.
“Ah! What a mangy mutt. Don’t touch him, Cleo.” A woman in rags spoke to a young man, also in rags. They looked as if they’d been left out and rained on themselves. I thought they’d sympathize, but it was clear from their tone that mangy was a bad thing, and that I was not welcome.
“Right! ‘E might be rabid.” His tone of voice made me growl, and he kicked at me.
I kept on moving. An older woman was sitting on a curb near a convenience store. She looked at me with tired eyes.
“You okay, little feller?” She reached into her pocket. She looked to be covered in rags, just like the people I’d just encountered. She didn’t smell like them, though.
Food! I smelled it! It looked like crumbled bread, but I was glad to have it. She gave me all that was in her hand, then patted me on the head.
I kept sniffing her hand, hoping there might be more, but there wasn’t. I couldn’t smell any food on her anywhere now.
“I’m sorry, little guy. There’s no more.”
She had given me the last of her food. Suddenly, I wondered if there might be more food tomorrow. My belly still rumbled, but she kept petting me and it felt wonderful. I could sense a gentle heart in her. There was no way I’d leave now.
Darkness passed, and the sunrise found me nestled under her arm. I’m not sure who was warming who, but there was a chill in the air, and this helped.
Her name was Rosie, and we were becoming fast friends. I had heard others refer to her in this way. “Get up, Rosie.” “The street sweeper’s coming, Rosie.”
“You got a pet, Rosie?”
She was proud of me and told them we had found each other. So, I guess this was my new family. It is not what I pictured when I thought of family, but yet, she was mine, and I belonged to her.
Not all of the voices were friendly. “Get up! Off the sidewalk. This is my block!” A deep, male voice belonging to a tall, scruffy man bellowed at us.
I snarled. Why would anyone talk to this sweet old woman in that way?
The gruff voice commanded, “Ah, scat, you mutt!”
I bared my teeth, ready to bite if necessary.
Rosie said, “Poopsie, calm down.” Then, she picked me up.
Poopsie? Where’d that come from?
I couldn’t stop barking at the man. He kept pushing the issue with Rosie. It seemed as if they’d met before. She spoke to him in a weak, timid voice.
She started walking, so I followed, occasionally turning to bark at him. Luckily, he didn’t follow us. If he did, he’d find trouble. Still, he was a lot bigger than I was.
We entered an alleyway that was rich with all sorts of smells. Rosie put me down and I explored. She started digging in a trash can which smelled of food and other dogs. So I had to mark it, too.
“Poopsie, eww, no!” She half laughed as she said it. I was familiar with that word, no, but I wasn’t sure why she said it, so I quickly forgot.
My eyes got wide when her hand came out of that trash can.
“Here, Poopsie!” She dropped a chunk of tasty meat which I caught in my mouth. Then, she wrapped up some more in a bag and put it in her coat pocket.
“Some for later,” she said with a smile, reaching down to pet me.
Just then, a harsh voice screamed out at us from the back door. “Buzz off! Tramps!”
Funny, I’d been called that before.
Rosie led me behind a dumpster, putting her finger to her lips. “Shhh.” Then, she sat down and patted me on the head and back. I rested my head on her leg. My thoughts wandered to the rest of the food in her coat pocket. She wanted quiet time though, I could tell.
A little while later, the back door of the restaurant opened again.
“Pssst!” It was a woman’s voice. Rosie got up and away from our hiding place. I followed.
It was an older woman with dark pants, a white shirt, and an apron, holding a box of the best smelling food ever.
“Shhh.” She held her finger to her lips just like Rosie had done.
A smile came across Rosie’s face. “Thank you,” she whispered.
The other woman put her finger to her lips again, and handed the box over to Rosie. What an angel. She tiptoed back into the restaurant. The cranky old man was none the wiser.
I guess Rosie knew what she was doing here.
Some secrets are best kept as secrets.
I became Rosie’s steadfast companion. She needed me, and I just loved her gentle soul. Sometimes I could sense just how much she needed me, because her life was a little rough for such a kind-hearted person soul.
The first night it happened I was on pins and needles. We had found our little nook in a corner behind a dumpster, tucked underneath her blankets, when, Pop! A startling noise made me jump. This couldn’t be good; I felt Rosie jump too.
Pop! It went off again. Rosie grabbed me tightly, and wedged behind the dumpster even further, gripping me in a way I’d normally dislike, but it seemed necessary now. Heck, I was even glad for it. Mind you, I’m a tough puppy, but those sounds were even scaring me.
We saw a man in dark clothes run past the dumpster and down the alley, hopefully going somewhere and not coming to hide where we were. Sirens wailed. We just huddled together, both of us shaking.
I had never heard anything like that at Ed and Laurie’s house. I’d heard Rosie talk, though, about “this rough neighborhood.” She didn’t seem completely happy here. I know she would’ve liked Ed and Laurie’s house, but it was no use thinking about them now.
Hanging out with Rosie was certainly much better than being stuck in the back of that truck. She held me tight and shielded me from the pops, the rain, and nasty men who hated dogs. Let just one of them try to harm her, though, and I would bite his head off. So, I guess I was her shield, too.
As the weather grew cooler, Rosie hung out in a tent in what appeared to be a little tent village down closer to the river. There were a lot more people around, so no more hiding behind dumpsters. I kind of missed the smells, but I can tell you, she slept a lot better.
It was late one night when a stranger came into the tent. A tall, lanky man, he was rummaging through Rosie’s things. A growl rose in my throat, waking Rosie. She hollered at him, but I got in between her and the man, who was cursing and raising his voice. He seemed to be growling himself. My barks came out in full blast. He had to go.
The guy lurched at me and I bit him. Right on the calf. “#@$*! You ankle biter! I’ll sue you, woman!” He hollered and cursed at both of us, then limped out of the tent.
“How you gonna pay a lawyer?” Rosie questioned. “Good boy, Poopsie.” She stroked me behind the ears. She knew how much I loved that. “That old Stanley isn’t gonna bother me anymore!”
She was right; he didn’t come back. I wondered how she fared before she had me around. What kind of man would go in and steal from a kind, gentle little woman like Rosie? There was definitely something bad in his heart.
I got defensive now any time a man came around her.
“This one’s not bad,” she’d say, but I wasn’t taking any chances. No one was going to try to take advantage of my Rosie again.
Let it be known, just for the record: I really hate Winter. It is cruel and unfair. And we were in a tent now! I could just imagine what it would have been like behind a dumpster.
Rosie had one sleeping bag and one blanket that she allowed me. During the day, we’d go to shelters where they gave out scarves, knitted hats, and thick socks. She put socks on all my feet one night! I would have felt ridiculous, except, it did keep me warmer.
She went down to the shelter with me one cold, frigid, night. We could see our breath in the air. I swear it was about to turn to ice.
They wouldn’t let her in! They wouldn’t let her in because of me. She held me in her arms and wouldn’t put me down, pleading with them in her kindest voice, “Please, he won’t be any trouble.”
If I could talk, I’d tell her to go on. I would wait for her. I’d run back to the tent and huddle under the blankets. Someone out there probably had a fire going. Rosie didn’t like it by the fire because it bothered her cough even worse. Well, the cold didn’t help either.
They turned her away, and away she went, because she didn’t want to leave me alone.
“It’s okay, Poopsie, you can help keep me warm!” She nuzzled me with her nose. It was cold. I licked it, hoping that might help.
We walked along, and her breathe was like frost in front of her. I could feel her shiver.
A kind, young man walked up and handed her a cup of warm coffee. She held it up to me like she might share, but I’ll be honest, the smell didn’t appeal to me.
“Thank you, young man!” He gave her some spare change and walked away.
Rosie put it in her pocket and gently placed me on the ground. She had a rope on me, attached to a collar. I wasn’t going anywhere, anyhow. Although, sometimes another stray dog could inspire me to chase after them. Rosie knew that, too. She stood for a moment, sipping the cup and enjoying the warmth. I saw a shiver run deeply through her.
“We’ve gotta go, Poopsie. Just one more sip.”
I was shaking from the cold, too.
She took one more sip, then gave the rope a slight tug. A little of her coffee spilled. We walked a few paces, then she stopped for a sip, and dropped the rest into the trash can.
“No time to waste. It’s getting colder by the minute. Brrrr.”
Rosie picked me up once again, and I was so glad to feel her holding me closer, her heart beat against mine, with her arms around me. We would keep each other warm.
A bitter looking, tall young man growled, “Watch where you’re going, old woman!”
I snarled, then started barking, squirming in her arms, ready to jump down and give him some real trouble.
“Keep that beast to yourself, woman,” the man bellowed.
Luckily he was gone not long after that, or I might have really tried to put him in his place. There were villains everywhere in this town. But I wouldn’t let any of them hurt my Rosie.
Of course, I might have lost my head and chased after this guy, and then Rosie would try to find me, delaying her return to the relatively warm tent. I am prone to losing my head every now and then, so I’m glad it didn’t happen this time.
At about this time, I was really ready to get back to the tent, too. Darkness was moving in quickly.
Rosie was getting tired. We were so close! She put me down and guided me with my makeshift rope/leash. Her feet were moving more slowly. They must have been cold, because I know mine sure were.
Finally! I saw the smoke from the campfire our “neighbors” had set up, just like they did every night.
There were a good number of people around the fire, including that guy who tried to raid our tent that one night. He sure knew to keep his distance now, though. A few hellos were said, but we made our way to the tent. Rosie grabbed a blanket, and we headed back out to the fire.
We sat on the opposite side of George, the one who had raided our tent. Rosie knew to stay away from him as well.
The fire was a little bit helpful. I was snuggled close to Rosie in her arms, covered by most of the blanket. She held me tight, and moved closer to the fire, trying to warm up.
“Maybe this’ll warm up our blanket, too,” she whispered.
I couldn’t complain. Anything to make us warmer had to be a great idea.
In a few minutes, something was burning.
“Rosie,” another old woman exclaimed.
Rosie had dozed off. I was getting pretty sleepy, too. Apparently a corner of the blanket was too close to the fire and was smoldering. The other woman stomped on it. It left a charred looking corner.
“If I wasn’t watching, your blanket would’ve caught on fire!”
“I’m tired, Sara Jean. We better go get to sleep. I’m s-sorry. Thank you. I’m really, just, tired,” Rosie struggled to say.
She led me by my rope leash to the tent, which still felt colder than being around the fire. Still, the fire had to be put out at some point.
We lay in a heap in the corner, with sleeping bag and blanket. Rosie had taken out some socks and put them on my feet. She had been saving them up from different shelters.
In the middle of the night, Rosie had a horrible coughing spell that woke me up. I rested my chin on her shoulder and looked at her face. At first, she was just coughing in her sleep, then the coughing got so loud it even woke her up. She went to the tent opening and said, “Poopsie, I’m going out by the fire. You can stay.”
I knew the word “stay,” and I didn’t want to leave this blanket, but I wasn’t letting her go alone. So, we dragged ourselves out by the fire. When I got up, she grabbed the blanket again and put it around her shoulders.
This time she stood, warming her hands by the fire, keeping the blanket away from the flames. After a while, we went back to the tent, Rosie still coughing now and then. I wanted to help her, but there was nothing I could do to make the coughing go away.
The next day, we ventured into town again, looking for food. She went to the soup kitchen and asked someone to hold my leash while she got her soup. When she came out, she gave me half her bread and let me have the last few licks from her soup cup. It was good, and I sure wished there was more. Later, she stopped in the alley at the back of the Chinese restaurant. The man we trust was working. He spoke in a way we couldn’t understand, but it was friendly, I could tell. He always brought something out, sometimes even leaving an open trash bag so we could take what we wanted. We made away with several half-eaten eggrolls, most of which Rosie fed me right away. She knew I was hungry; she was good at that. There was also a lot of meat in one container, and a bit of rice. Rosie said we’d have that for dinner.
She went to another shelter, and we stood in line to get a scarf. It was clean and warmer than the one she was wearing. By the time we were done, it was late afternoon, and cars were crowding the streets.
It was even colder on this day, so we rushed back to the tent. Yes, it sure was better than the back of a dumpster, but it got a hole in it at one corner at some point. It made these winter nights even more of a challenge.
We spent our usual time by the fire, but it was cut short by Rosie’s coughing, so we retired early, snuggling up against each other and into the blankets. Rosie snored quite loudly, and it wasn’t long before she was sitting up with a coughing spell.
It seemed to calm in a short while, and she lay back down again. I heard her coughing again and again, and I really wished there was something I could do. I just snuggled close, and hoped it would comfort her.
At one point, she coughed really loudly, and sounded like she couldn’t breathe well. She didn’t sit up, though. I went out to the tent opening and whined, hoping someone would come to help. I really didn’t want to go too far from her. It didn’t work. Some of them just looked at me with tired eyes. So I ran out and nudged one of the older men and tipped my head toward the tent, pointing my body that way and hoping he would follow. Finally, he did. I ran in to Rosie’s side and nudged her arm. She was very quiet. She didn’t feel right, and she didn’t sound right.
“Oh, no. No!” The man held his hands to his face. “She’s not breathing,” he whispered, picking up her hand and holding it.
He went to the tent opening and hollered, “Somebody help!”
I really hoped they could get her the help she needed. I licked her face, hoping it would wake her up.
A big truck came a while later and took her away. The old guy, Sam, patted my head and gave me a cracker. It didn’t taste too good, but he was being nice to me. I guess that helped.
I waited around the tent. Sometimes I’d sit by Sam when he was by the fire. It was awfully cold, and I was terribly lonely.
“She’s not coming back, Poopsie,” Sam said.
Why wouldn’t she come back for me? Was she that sick? This was worse than the day Ed dropped me off at the abandoned house.
I wandered the streets on my own during the day, stopping at our usual restaurant back alleys, waiting for a familiar face. Sometimes it worked. Other times, it didn’t. Maybe I just blended in with the other strays.
Sometimes trash would spill over and fall out of the trash can, leaving me a treat or even enough for dinner. I met a lot of fellow dogs this way.
One day I met a lovely dog at the park. I enticed her away from her owner and their children. They got her away from me as soon as they could, though. Nobody wants their beautiful lady dog hanging out with a rascal like me. I was a rascal, too. I got in fights, bared my teeth, and intimidated any other dogs who tried to steal my food. It was all about survival now.
A long stick in a big man’s hands could scare me away, though. It happened a few times. And did I mention how cold it was at night? Cold and lonely. It seemed there was no one out there like Rosie. She had been my one true friend.
Then one day, I was captured. They put me in a truck. Was I going to see Rosie? That wouldn’t be so bad.
No, they didn’t take me to see Rosie. I wasn’t sure what to think about this place they took me.
There were a lot of dogs, and some of them were horribly loud when I first got there. It was scary. The people who brought me in were nice enough to me, but they put me in a cage and shut and locked the door. It was still very lonely. I’d hear another dog whimper now and then. I decided I really didn’t like it. I sure hoped Rosie was in a nicer place.
In the morning, someone came to get me out. They took me outside to relieve myself, but they brought me back in again. At least this time they put food in my cage. People came and went. I still didn’t like it there. None of them were Rosie. Still, one of the girls would take me out and just hold me once and a while. I loved those short moments. They always ended with me back in the cage.
I almost thought I’d be better off out in the wild again, on the road. The thought came to mind more and more.
One day, a small family came to see me. The woman held me. I leaned my head on her; she felt soft and warm. The workers took me into the visiting room, and I, of course, whizzed on the floor. One of them laughed. “Oops,” she said.
The young man with her didn’t say much. They were nice. I liked them. But they left, like so many others.
A little while later, I was taken to see the “vet.” They did a “procedure.” Man, that hurt. They put a cone on my neck for a while. It was horrible! Why would they do that to me? I laid in my cage, taking it easy, trying not to think about the pain.
Two days later, they were back again! I was so happy, I was shaking.
“Oh, look. He must be scared,” one of them said.
“Can we take him to the visiting room?” One of them asked.
“Sure,” Clare, the worker on duty, said.
So we went to the visiting room again. The scents were driving me crazy. I knew I’d scared away people before, but I couldn’t help but mark the floor. They talked quite a while and tried to pet me, tried to pick me up. I was excited and there were so many scents. I didn’t quite realize what was going on, but I was sure happy to be out of that cage.
Someone snapped a picture; I felt the startling flash in my eyes. Then, we were headed out to the main lobby, the young man holding me, and Clare opened the door. She opened the door! I was put down on the ground, only now, I had a leash on me, but I was outside and I was walking!
I sat on the young man’s lap while his mother drove. It was getting dark out.
Finally, we arrived at a house, and they took me inside. I wandered around and explored, marking my territory. I was told, “No,” but I’d heard that before.
They gave me a nice, plush dog bed, and I was fed regularly, morning and night. They had me in a crate, but left the door open. Still, the plush bed was in there, so I just hung around in there.
I’d whine in the middle of the night, and one of them would take me out. This was working out great. I ran a few times. There were other dogs in the neighborhood, and I had to check them out. I always came back, though. This place was not bad at all, and the people seemed to care for me. After a while, I stopped running off completely. I knew this place, these people, were home.
It has been a huge contrast, going from a cold steel cage to this home. Now, I can just climb up on the bed next to my human who talks to me kindly and lets me lay there, comfortably. Sometimes I get a belly rub. I have a new home and family. It seems there actually are other people in this world with hearts as big as Rosie’s. I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
Thank you for giving my writing a chance and for reading my work! Please take a moment and leave a review, even if a short one, for this story on the website where you downloaded it. If interested, you may also find my author website at and sign up to stay informed about my other novels and written works.
Pamela Schloesser Canepa
What if your adopted shelter dog could tell his story? Have you ever wondered why he freaks out when the kitchen timer goes off, or he gets defensive when he meets a tall man? Consider the origin story of Bixby, as Pamela imagines the long journey of his life before they found each other and he became part of her family. A firm believer of the "Adopt, don't shop" motto, this author shares her experiences and imagines what Bixby experienced before, during, and after being rescued from an animal shelter by telling the story through his point of view. This tale will draw you in, appeal to your emotions, and maybe even make you smile. Sometimes you never know what someone has been through, even a stray dog, but Pamela has imagined it all here. Appropriate for children and adults ages seven and up.