Letters to a Dog
I saw you today for the first time, just a couple houses from my own. The school bus stopped to let out your kids, and your mom opened the front door to let you run out and greet them. You are a wiggly, bouncy and happy little puppy with a full belly and a shiny coat. Your kids grabbed you up, hugged you, held you and toted you inside. Your tail was wagging the entire time. I thought to myself, how sweet, what a way to end a long hard day. I spoke to your mom this evening and she said that they got you from the Animal Shelter, and the kids named you Lucky.
I saw you today as I always do on my way home from work. You were already outside to greet the kids today, which seemed a little odd. The little girl got off the bus and shooed you away; she appeared to not want you jumping on her. The boy got off the bus and gave you a quick playful pat on the head, then smelled his hand and brushed you aside. You looked confused and sad, as you went to lie by the porch. You curled up in a tight ball on the cold ground and let out a huge sigh. My heart felt heavy that day.
I saw you today. I was headed home, and the kids got off the bus, walked to the house, and you ran out as far as you could on your heavy chain to let them know you were there. The little girl ignored you, the little boy told you to be quiet, when you barked for his attention. My neighbor commented that they needed to do something with your barking because you keep them up at night. You had a bucket of water and a bowl of food, a relatively nice doghouse, but your eyes were sad and empty. I shook my head and let out a huge sigh.
I worried for you today. You look thin, your chain heavy on your neck, your coat is dirty and falling out, you don't get up to do much anymore. Your bucket is turned over, and I have not seen your food bowl for a few days now. I spoke to the neighbor and asked about you. He said you still bark at night and he saw the man of the house throw something at you the other day as he scolded you. I shook my head in despair as I went back into my house.
My heart sank today. I was headed home, and you weren't in your yard. A large part of me hoped you got away, another large part of me was frightened at all the other possibilities. I asked my neighbor about you, and he said your family went on vacation and sent you back to the Animal Shelter. I shook my head and cried for you as I went into my house.
I went to the shelter today. I found you huddled in the back of a cage that had a bucket, a bowl of food, and a blanket for you to lie on. You looked up at me as if you knew me, and my heart broke as I read your card. They did not even care enough to give them your name, and the card simply said, "male, neutered retriever mix. Owners did not want." I cried when a gentleman from the kennel said, "That's a sad one there. He came from here, you know, last Christmas. Guess they just got tired of him. He's too frightened, no one will adopt him." I went to the counter and told them I would be back tomorrow and please don't do anything just yet. They all kind of nodded like they heard that one before.
I brought you home today. You were scared and untrusting, but a small part of you somewhere allowed you to wag the tip of your tail when I told you that you were a good boy and that I loved you. I gave you a new name, "Happy", because you aren't and I hope that someday you will be. You had an accident on the floor, and when I came back to clean it up with paper towel you slunk down and whimpered as if the hand was coming for you. I tried to choke back the tears when I thought of what you must have gone through in the past six months. I reached out and patted you and your eyes closed and your body went limp at such a gentle gesture. "We're going to be all right," I told you. I showed you your food, and you ate voraciously, and you marveled at the treats and toys I got for you.
Good morning my best friend! You woke me, as always, popping out from under the covers on your side of the bed, licking my face to tell me it was time for our walk. We went through the living room and you sniffed what Santa left for us. I hugged you and said, "Last year you were a Christmas gift, now this year, these are all yours!" Your coat is shiny, your belly always full, and even though we found out at your first vet visit you had heartworms, you are healthy now. As we went out for our walk, we saw your old family in the front yard. They look at you each time as if they recognize you in a way, but you don't give them a second glance. --- Then I believe both our hearts stopped as we saw the children emerge from the yard holding a small playful puppy. "Isn't she just precious? We got her from the animal shelter. Hope this one works out, the other dog we got from there was so much trouble." I sighed and refrained from pointing out that you were not the trouble. You looked up at me as if to say, "Thank you, mom." I kneeled down and whispered in your sweet ear, "No, it is I who thank you."