A TRAIL OF PAWS ON OUR HEARTS
Published by Dan Mazur at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Dan Mazur
I live in Northern Ontario with my Dad. He is a veterinarian and loves animals. I love them too and look forward to our hikes where we see all kinds of cool animals like elk, moose, deer, and eagles. There are also bears and wolves around so we have to be careful. My Dad says the best way to appreciate nature is by leaving it alone.
We like to go for hikes before dinner. It was starting to get cold and dark so we headed home. All the while we were being followed by a curious little creature. He began howling at the front door. My Dad opened the door to find a cute little pup staring up at him. “May I help you?” he joked as he opened the door. The pup immediately fell asleep by the fireplace.
The next morning I jumped out of bed to go visit the puppy. He came up to me and started licking my hands. “She’s a sweet dog isn’t she?” My Dad came closer and began to inspect the pup. “Hmmm” he muttered. “It looks like she has bite marks on her back.” “Well you can fix her up and then we can keep her?” “We’ll see.”
After a few days at the animal hospital, my Dad brought the pup home. I named him “Wolfgang”. He was a friendly boy and he slept at the foot of my bed every night. I began to notice some weird behavior from Wolfgang during our hikes. He ran so fast and so far that I had to chase after him. He was also getting a little aggressive, growling at other animals we’d come across.
I didn’t want to tell my Dad about Wolfgang’s growling episode. “So Dad, what kind of dog do you think Wolfgang is?” “I don’t know but he kinda looks like a wolf to me.” “Yeah, I guess he does” I nervously laughed. What if he was a wolf? Then I wouldn’t be able to keep him and I was starting to grow attached to the pup.
As the sun began to set, I noticed that Wolfgang was growing restless. He kept peeking out of the living room window as if he was waiting for someone. He didn’t sleep in my bed that night as he remained downstairs. For a few hours all I could hear was loud howling noises coming from outside and a little wolf cub trying to make his voice heard.
Wolfgang was starting to act more and more like a wolf. He’d bare his teeth anytime he got upset and would hold his tail up high. Wolfgang would keep my Dad and I awake all night as his howls grew louder and louder. On the way to school one morning my Dad told me that we needed to talk about Wolfgang. I knew what he meant and I agreed. But I just couldn’t let him go.
When I got home from school I took Wolfgang outside with me for a walk. I left a note for my Dad on the fridge telling him that I didn’t want to have to let Wolfgang back into the wild. Even though I knew that’s where he belonged, I was being selfish. We headed out into the woods for what would likely be our final hike together.
Wolfgang and I ventured into the forest. He was so full of beans that took off as I tried to catch up to him. When my Dad got home from work he found my note on the fridge and began to worry. He immediately got dressed and climbed in his truck in pursuit of Wolfgang and me. The wolf cub ran so fast that I had lost track of him and found myself lost in the cold dark forest.
I heard a rustling noise in some bushes nearby and figured I’d find Wolfgang hiding there. I did not. Instead I encountered a big, mean grizzly bear. He was eight feet tall and looked like he wanted to have me for supper. Trembling with fear, I could hear a slight growling noise behind me. It was Wolfgang! But what was a little wolf pup going to do against a big, bad bear.
Soon the bear was surrounded by a pack of wolves. Outnumbered and not looking for a fight, the bear ran into the woods. Before I could get close to Wolfgang, my Dad pulled up in his truck and told me to get into the truck. “But I want to say goodbye to Wolfgang.” “No, now!” I got into the truck as we drove away. That would be the last time I ever saw him and I cried during the entire ride home.
It’s been two years since I’ve seen Wolfgang. I miss him but I know that’s he’s where he belongs, with his family. On a quiet, still night I can hear the howling of a long wolf. I like to think its Wolfgang trying to communicate with me. I may never see him again but I hope that he remembers me because I’ll never forget him.
Today was the day that Jackie was coming to live with me. I was going to give that dog so much and affection. I could hardly sit still as I waited for her foster family to bring her home.
Her story is heartbreaking. Jackie was a small dog with a big heart who only wanted somebody to love her. She spent her life going from home to home, shelter to shelter. She’s an older dog so I’ll just have to give to her extra love for the years that she missed out on.
Jackie was brought to a shelter as a puppy. The family that adopted her seemed nice enough but once she started having accidents in the house, they decided to keep her outdoors. They never let her into the house again and eventually brought her back to the shelter.
The shelter was cold, damp, and lonely. Jackie spent a lot of time alone curled up in the corner. When people would walk through the kennels they would ignore Jackie. She looked angry and sad and growled at anyone who came near her. She was so afraid of people.
Things did not look good for Jackie. If she wasn’t adopted soon….no, I don’t want to think about it. The shelter dropped Jackie’s adoption fee and basically gave her away to anyone who wanted her. You don’t buy dogs, you adopt them. Unfortunately for Jackie, she was a bargain.
Jackie’s new owner never met her. The shelter manager just wanted to make room for a new dog in the kennels. The man who adopted her didn’t even like dogs. He just wanted to get one for his kids because they kept bugging him for one. He wasn’t a very friendly as he didn’t utter a word to Jackie during the entire ride home.
At first things were great for Jackie in her new home. The kids loved her and played with her all the time. Unfortunately, Jackie hadn’t been properly trained and would misbehave and jump up on the children. She didn’t know any better.
The kids were still very young. They had never had a pet before. Not even a goldfish. They didn’t know how to act around dogs. One afternoon, the little girl began poking Jackie which upset the poor dog. Eventually she ended up biting the girl. It wasn’t serious but the girl screamed and cried out loud.
The girl’s father refused to give Jackie another chance. He never spent any time with Jackie despite the fact that she was the “family dog.” He angrily put Jackie into the back of his truck and sped off. Rather than bring her back to the shelter, he decided to do something very cruel and selfish.
He drove out to the rural part of town and dropped Jackie off. Then he drove off in his truck leaving a confused and frightened Jackie all alone. She cried and howled all night long waiting for the man to return. But he never did.
After spending some chilly, scary days and nights all by herself, Jackie would meet her angels. A couple of friends were out for a walk when they saw the mangy pooch. As luck would have it, two friends also happened to work with a local dog rescue group.
It took the two a couple of hours to win Jackie’s trust but eventually she let them come close to her. Slowly and gently, they led Jackie to their car where she jumped into the backseat. Cold, tired, and hungry, she instantly fell asleep. The next time she opened her eyes, she would have a brand new life waiting for her.
When they got Jackie home, she was a little reluctant to come inside. She was so hungry though that she came running as soon as she heard the can opener. She gobbled down a big bowl of wet food and lapped up some fresh water. Next up was bath time and surprisingly, she dove right in getting everyone all wet.
It had been a long day and everybody wanted to get some sleep. Jackie would be visiting the vet the next day to make sure that everything was okay. The pair set up a comfy bed for Jackie with lots and lots of pillows. That night she had the most comfortable sleep in her entire life.
When she arrived at the office, she wasn’t afraid of the other animals in the waiting room at all. After all she had been through, it was such a relief to find out that she was healthy. Now all she needed was someone to love and take care of her. That’s where I come in.
After I lost my cat about a year ago, I was ready to give another animal a loving home. I came across the rescue group’s website and scrolled through the profiles until I saw sweet little Jackie. I immediately set up a meeting with her foster parents so I could see her. I really hoped that she would like me.
The first couple of times she was a little nervous around me. But by the third time I came to see Jackie, she jumped up into my arms and started giving me sloppy dog kisses. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Oh gee. She really doesn’t have one.” “Easy girl. You’re a real Jumpin’ Jack! That’s it. I’ll call her Jackie!”
I looked out the window and saw a car pulling up my driveway. In the backseat bopping about was Jackie. As soon as I opened the front door she jumped into my arms and started to kiss me. I hugged the volunteers as happy tears rolled down our cheeks.
I will always be so grateful Jackie’s foster family. While they only had her for a short time, she would always have a place in their hearts. Once they left it was just me and Jackie. “Okay girl, what do you want to do now?” Amidst all of the excitement she had fallen asleep. “Sleep well Jackie. Our journey together has only just begun.”
“Okay everyone, we leave for Florida at five o’clock in the morning tomorrow. Don’t forget to set your alarms. Winter is here and it’ll be nice to enjoy the warm weather again.” “Oh boy!” I thought. “I love Florida!”
It was a cold and windy night. A bitter breeze whipped through the trees. Just a few more hours and we’d be flying to Florida. We’d get to enjoy the hot sun, the beaches, and the cool blue ocean.
Everybody was a little groggy as they got ready to leave for Florida. All of their suitcases were packed and it almost time to go. Dad did one last head count and then it was time to go. “Florida, here we come!” he sang.
This trip to Florida didn’t seem to feel like the others. Something was missing. And that something was me! I had forgotten to set my alarm clock and slept in. Did they leave without me? Oh no! I rushed to get my suitcase and headed out of the nest. “Hey Tamerlane! Have you seen my family?” “Yeah. They left about an hour ago. You might be able to catch them.” Desperate to find my family, I flew as fast as my little wings could take me. How could they leave without me? I was starting to get scared. I had never been all alone.
Virginia had just received some upsetting news. Her daughter’s family would not be visiting her this month. Her son-in-law had booked a trip for them to go to Disneyland instead. It had been six months since her husband passed away and she was looking forward to seeing her grand kids.
I think I see another bird. “Hey! Wait for me!” I started getting closer and closer to her and then……thud! That wasn’t another bird. That was my reflection in the window. Ouch, my head! Virginia ran outside when she heard me hit her window. There she found a dizzy bird with a suitcase seeing stars. “Oh dear, are you alright little birdie?” “Yeah, I think so. Just bumped my head. Think I’m going to have a bit of a headache.” “Well come inside and rest.”
“My name is Virginia and this is my black cat Raven. You don’t have to worry about him. Right Raven?” “Meow!” “Who’s that in the picture?” I asked, which seemed to upset my hostess. “That was my husband Edgar. We were married for over 45 years. I lost him a few months ago.” “I’m terribly sorry.” I kinda wished I hadn’t brought that up. She immediately changed the subject. “Are you hungry dear? Let’s get you something to eat.”
“So why are you still here and not down in Florida?” “Funny story. Actually not that funny. I slept in and my family left without me.” “Oh you poor thing Well, you can spend the winter with Raven and I. Right Raven?” “Meow!”
“Well we made it. It was a long flight but we’re finally here. Let’s go get checked into our hotel and then we can relax for a bit. It just feels like I’ve forgotten something. But what? Oh well, it’ll come to me later.”
“Okay love, I made up Raven’s bed for you and he can sleep in my room.” “Meow!” “Have a restful sleep and if you need anything just let me know.” “Thanks for everything” I replied. “What’s your name by the way little girl?” “Lenore.” “Goodnight Lenore” she said as she turned out the lights.
“Hi Lenore, its Dad. I’m so sorry that we left without you. If you get this message, hold tight. We’re on our way and will try to make it home as soon as we can. I’m so, so, so, sorry!” My family was prepared to fly back home right away but a tropical storm was coming and that would delay them for quite a while.
While my family was worrying about their lost Lenore, I was enjoying life with Virginia and Raven. I was in such good hands as she gave me so much love, food, water, and affection. I was starting to enjoy life here and thought I could really get used to living here. I think Virginia enjoyed having me stay with her and Raven as well. She would talk to me for hours about Edgar and shared many of their wonderful stories.
Back in Florida, a tropical storm was passing through. It was windy and rainy as big bolts of lightning lit up the sky. So many vacations had been ruined by this unexpected storm. “Hi Mom, it’s me. It’s raining out and we’re stuck inside. So bored. The kids want to go home and…you’re with who? Lenore? Who’s Lenore? Hello? Hello?” “Meow!” “Raven? Is that you?”
For the first time in months, Virginia’s home was no longer filled with sadness or silence. It was alive with the sound of songs and laughter. The little bird with the big heart had brought some much needed joy into Virginia’s life.
The storm eventually passed and my family got ready to fly home. They packed their bags and met up at the beach. It would be a long flight home. They were all worried about me but only they knew how happy I was.
A few days later, my family arrived back home. They talked to Tamerlane and found out where I had been staying. I was so excited to see them that I packed my bag and ran out the door. Then I turned around to see Virginia. She was trying to smile but I could tell that she was trying not to cry. What was I to do?
I know, for the rest of the winter I would continue to visit Virginia and even sometimes I would bring my family. In spring we moved our nest to a tree right in Virginia’s front yard. That way I got to see her anytime I wanted. And that made everybody happy. Well, almost everybody. “Mom? Mom? Where are you?” Virginia’s daughter pleaded on the telephone. But all she could hear was the purring of a contented little kitty cat.
This is a collection of short stories about animals and people. The first story is about the bond between a boy and what he thinks is a dog. The second a story about a dog rescued from a life of sadness. The third story deals with a bird and her friendship with a lonely elderly widow. These kids stories show the amazing bond that exist between people and animals of all species.