Lost Dog

angel lost dogFrom the time she had been little, so little she could not get up the steps without help, she had been with her people.  At first they had taken lots of time with her, always playing and cuddling her, taking her out to teach her about outside.  As she had grown older her people seemed to be angry with her, she often did not know what she had done wrong, but it seemed … she didn’t know, what had she done wrong?  Her tail, once held high sank lower and lower.  She had found a spot in a corner that seemed to work.  No one pushed or shoved her away when she stayed there.  She wished there was something there to make the spot softer, but knowing her people were not upset with her was enough.

She would watch them with her huge lonely brown eyes.  They seemed to get along, laughing, playing, joking around.  Somethings her tail would thump on the floor in hopes that they would notice her.

Often times, now, her tummy would growl with hunger.  The family had such good smells coming from the food area, but her bowl rarely had anything in it.  She would get so thirsty.  One day one of her people caught her drinking from the toilet, she had just been so thirsty.  He had hollered, hit her, she had run with a frightened cry, back to her corner, fearful to come out again.

One day her people loaded her into their car.  She used to love to ride in the car.  But they had stopped taking her places with them.

When she had been little, she was so cute, so easy to handle, but as she had grown into her now 40 pound self no one had wanted to take the time to teacher her what was expected, They never showed her what they wanted her to do so when they would go out she made mistakes, pulling on her leash, chasing cats, birds, jumping on other people.  They just seemed to have lost interest.  She wanted to tell them to just show her.  She loved them, would die for them, but they never listened.  She wanted to try, wanted to make them happy with her again.  She tried to tell them with her whines, her hopeful tail thumps, but she was the outcast of her people pack.

She enjoyed the drive, her longish white fur waved in the wind and she took such pleasure in feeling the rushing wind on her face.  Little Mandy reached over to give her a hug and gasped.  “Daddy, I can feel Dotty’s bones in her chest.  Is she okay?”

“Tom, have you been feeding the dog?”  Dad asked Mandy’s older brother.

“Well, sort of, I think I put something down for her a few days ago.” Tom replied guiltily.

“I take it she has had no water either, then.”  Dad remarked.

“Uh, yeah, I guess.  Dad, I’m sorry, I forgot, she looks just fine.”  Tom tried to cover his mistake.

“It’s a good thing we are doing this then.  You obviously don’t care about the dog.  Remember when you saw her, how you promised you wouldn’t miss a day playing with her or feeding her?  Now you are letting her starve.”  Dad tongue lashed his son.

“Are we taking Dotty to a farm?”  Mandy asked, wondering if she would get to see cows and ducks and chickens.

“There are farms all around and I am sure she will find herself a good home, Mandy, but we are going to give Dotty her freedom so she can pick which is the best home for her.”

Dad stopped the car and parked it and got Dotty’s leash.  “Come on, girl, out of the van.”

Dotty jumped down, anxious to please, tail wagging.  Finally, a family outing; she could play with everyone and things would be better.  Maybe they would give her some food to stop the craving in her tummy.

Dad walked her into the woods about fifty feet and took off her collar and leash.  He told her to sit and stay and walked away.  This was a strange game and she cocked her head at him, curious, a little confused.

“Stay, Dotty, Stay;  now that’s a good girl.  You stay, girl.”  Dad called, He walked back to the van and got in.  Then she heard it start and drive away.  Still she remained true to her Alpha’s last command; “stay.”

Finally she began to suspect but was sure they would come back, they just forgot.  She would stay near by so that when they returned she would be right there, ready to go home.  Hours went by as she sat by that dirt road, watching and listening for the van.  The sun went down and as evening came a rain storm rolled in with it.  The awful, frightening truth began to occur to her.  Her people, her pack had abandoned her.  The reality of it broke her heart.  She laid down right there but the side of the road, in the pouring rain and would have been happy to die.

The might passed miserably.  When the sun arose she raised up and began to trudge along on shaky legs.  She was wet, half-starved, covered in mud.  Her heart was broken and she had no idea what would happen to her.  Another day and night went by, she had found some food thrown away and ate it ravenously.  It took the edge off, but she found herself throwing it up.  She had gone without for so long that eating it so quickly was something her stomach could not tolerate.  It was getting colder out and her fur, although on the longer side, was not a real source of warmth.

There was another rain storm that night, then temperatures dropped, Dotty found herself leaning alongside a building and just dropped to the ground, too weak to even find shelter from the rain.  The cold of the night sent a chill deep into her bones.  She laid there and waited for her inevitable death.  Still she wondered what had she done?  She would have tried harder if she had only known what to do.  Her eyes closed and she sank into oblivion.

The next morning a young boy was walking past the barn and spied a lump of dirt that had not been there before.  He went over to poke at it and his eyes widened in surprise and concern.

“Uncle Clay!  Come here!  There’s a dead dog by the barn!”

“What’re you carrying on about, boy!”  an older man walked out of an older ramshackle house.

“Come on, Uncle Clay, come see!”  the boy pulled his uncle by the hand.

“Well, I’ll be….” Remarked Uncle Clay as he stared at the form of the dog.  We went to clean the dirt off the dog and both of them heard a whimper.  “RJ, I think this dog may not be dead.”

“Can we keep it then, Uncle Clay, please?  You know how I’ve been wanting a dog since  Max got hit by a car.  Please?  You know I’ll tend it ‘n all.”

“Now boy, I ain’t say’n yes and I ain’t say’n no.  First we have to see how bad off it is, then we have to get Aunt Ruth to give her bless’n.”

Uncle Clay lifted Dotty up, she was light as a feather.  Her whimpers grew a little louder, but she did not fight those hands, she was too weak.

“Ruth!  Ruth!  Got us a situation here!  Need your good word on it.”  Clay called to his wife.  Ruth came out onto the porch wiping her hands on a dish towel.  Her spare body dressed in an old pair of jeans and one of her church T-Shirts.  Her once golden hair had strands of white running through it.   Her eyes were crinkled at the outside corners but gentle and kind.  Ruth was a practical woman, with a heart for the less fortunate.  She was forever giving her time at the local soup kitchen, checking to be sure some of the widows in town had food, transportation.  She would bring baskets to some of the poorer families to help them through rough spots.  She saw the skeletal dog in her husband arms.

“Well, good grief, Clay, what is that poor thing you have there?”

“RJ found it by the barn.  Seems alive, but I don’t know how far gone  this poor thing is.  I’m thinking some family dumped their dog out in the woods.  No tell’n when it last ate.  Spent the night in the mud next to the barn.  More dead than alive I’m a think’n.  But RJ want to try in bring it back.  What are your thoughts?”

“Well bring it on up into the house,  I can’t tell anything until I see it better.”

Clay brought Dotty in and laid her on the kitchen rug.  Ruth ran a warm pot of water and dipped her rag in it and began to wash some of the mud off Dotty.  Once the dirt was gone, Ruth got a cry towel and rubbed her down.  She got some milk and dabbed her fingers in it and rubbed the mild on Dotty’s nose.    Dotty licked half-heartedly, several times, then with warmth back in her body, she fell asleep.

She woke up an hour or so latter and RJ was right there.  He brought her some more warm milk, but this time there was an egg in it as well.  Dotty licked the bowl clean and her tail thumped in gratitude.  She looked at this boy and wondered if this was a dream or not.  He seemed so kind, so patient.  She lowered her head onto his knee and looked up at him hoping not to be pushed away.

“Well look there, Ruth, seems the boy has him a new dog.”  Clay said.

“She’s a good looker, that’s for sure.  Gonna take a ton of time keeping that long coat from getting tangled and matted.  But you are right, husband.  She seems pretty set on him.”

RJ, what are you going to name her?”  Uncle Clay asked.

“I don’t know, Uncle Clay.  Aunt Ruth, do you have any ideas?”

“I was think’n.  She kind of looks like an angel, all that white fur.  Why not angel?”

RJ grinned.  “Perfect. “ He pet her head.  “Hey Angel.  Do you want to live with us?”

Maybe there was something to live for.  Angel thumped her tail and reached up to lick RJ’s face.  She had found a home.angel the lost dogangel lost dog

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Memories of an Indefatigable Toddler

My darling baby boy

 

Blue eyes twinkled as he sat impatiently in his chair.  His body squirmed and wriggled in impatience to begin moving again.  Fruit Loops decorated the table along with small droplets of milk.  A smile filled his entire face as he watched his mother move about the kitchen.

“Outside!  Mamma Outside!”

“Would you like some bacon and eggs?  You didn’t eat the cereal?”

“Noooo!  Outside, Mamma!”

Mamma stood and shook her head at this most darling child.  Her little ball of energy and laughter stole her heart anew every day.  His belly laughs came from way deep inside and his cuddles, beyond description.   “Breakfast first, son, you know that!”

“Toaster Fruit!  Her little package of pure action decided.

“Well, it’s not the healthiest, but that is why you get vitamins.  Open up for the squirt!”

His face screwed up at the flavor and it made her laugh.   Okay, let me get you some clothes while the toaster pastry heats up then when you are done you can go outside.    He clapped and banged the table and she moved into the bedroom to grab a pair of short, a top, socks and shoes.  She had just finished working the graveyard shift at the local hospital.  It had been a quiet night, but she was ready to close her eyes.

“CRASH!”

“Owwwww!”  She ran back out to the kitchen to find him on the floor next to the toaster.

“You were supposed to be in your chair, why did you get up.  Oh my poor baby!  Where did it hit you?  Are you hurt?”  She saw a welt coming up on his forehead and grabbed a cloth and some ice to put on it.  “Oh, my poor darling; come sit with Mamma and we will make that bump go away.”  She blamed herself for what happened; she knew better.

She  settled into her rocker and held the compress to his pale forehead and rocked absently while she hummed tunelessly and stroked his soft brown hair.  This was the one time she could keep him quiet.  He loved the rocking motion and listening to her heart beat.  But at eight o’clock in the morning he could not sit for very long.  Soon he was wriggling again.  He slipped his little hand up to her face.

“Mamma?  I all better now.  Outside?”

“Oh, alright, but let’s get some clothes on you first.  Do you need to potty again?”

A firm shake of his head sent started them on the process of stripping off his bedclothes and getting the shorts and shirt into place.  He wiggled and wriggled so much it took twice as long.  Finally he was dressed and charged to the door.  She grabbed some drinks from the refrigerator and   followed him outside.  As he ran into the huge world known as “Backyard”, she settled into the chaise on the porch with some cold orange juice.

In a bit it would be “Inside” time, when it just got too hot and he would get a bath, more clean clothes and play pen time.   For now, she enjoyed the morning cool  and watched her little man toddle from one part of the yard to another.  Pretty soon he settled at his dirt pit where all his trucks and bulldozers were.  He would push them around  as long as his short attention span would allow.  Then he was off to find more action.

The soft breeze and morning coolness lulled Mamma to sleep.  She did not hear when he got up and ran across the yard.  He stopped just short of the porch and stared at something poking out from between the screen and the metal frame.  He reached for it tentatively and Mamma did not say anything so he became bolder.

Mamma awoke to her wonderful,  very mischievous son poking her.   “Mamma!   Look, I fix!”  There stood a very proud  toddler holding the spline that held the screens in the metal porch frames.  All screens of all the bottom frames lay on the ground as son proudly held the spline that had held them in place.

The fogginess of sleep cleared, and she realized her son had  truly found  mischief.  Her utter exhaustion and frustration with herself and her tireless toddler began to explode.  She jumped up looking with disbelief at the unscreened back porch.  She closed her eyes and hands opened and closed as she prayed for understanding and to calm the anger that boiled up in her.

She suddenly bent down and lifted him up into her arms and buried her head into his shoulder.
“Matthew, Matthew, Matthew!   God grant me the patience to be all that you need.  Yes, Mamma sees.  It is getting hot, inside time.  Let’s go have a nice bubble bath and get the dirt and sweat off you, then we can put your movie on.”

She ran the bubble bath and while he  played ,  she  dialed her husband and explained what happened.  They talked about the porch, her job, what was for dinner.  Her second call was to the hospital.  She let them know she would not be coming in that night or any night thereafter.    Once off the phone, she looked down at her precious son.  He was splashing tirelessly.   She pulled out a towel and lifted him from the tub, carried him into his room, and dropped him carefully onto the bed.  He loved this part.  She put her hands on either side of him and bounced him up and down.  That belly laugh she so loved rumbled from deep down in his tummy.  She so loved to watch him as his joyous embrace of life and living.  He was her pride and joy.

Birthday Memories (critiques encouraged)

It was my eleventh birthday so I got to pick what was for dinner. As always, I wanted roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, and birthday cake! Mom would make it so well, just the right amount of seasoning. The blood running out would say it was rare to medium rare … perfect. Mom’s mashed potatoes were what we would call ‘smashed’ potatoes today. They were just the best, a little lumpy so you knew they were real, with salt, pepper, milk, butter. She used a smasher, never a mixer. When you added the gravy she would make from the pan drippings it was sheer heaven. When everything was ready, Mom would ring the dinner bell and Fred, my brother, and I would come running.

To get to the dining room from the stairs, you would walk through the living room. In December there was a fire in the fireplace; our dog, Buttons, part boxer part everything else, would be curled up in front of it along with our cat Cindy. When Buttons would see us, her curled tail would thump, but the fire was too comfortable to get up.

Mom always outdid herself on birthday night. She used our best tablecloth, special cloth napkins, even flowers and candles adorned the table. Bowls and platters were placed just so with the various foods, the wonderful scents wafted through the house, Daddy sat in his chair, sharpening the carving knife waiting for everyone to arrive. Mitch Miller would be playing on the stereo.

I had the privilege of saying blessing and took that responsibility very seriously. I beamed when Daddy said; “Very good job, Kathleen.”

While Daddy carved the roast, Mom handed a shot glass filled with blood from the roast to Fred and I. It was a tradition that beef was roasted, some of the “juice” would be syphoned off for each of the children. It was thought the blood would help to grow strong bones. Both of us liked the flavor and were pleased to get it.

The meat was always, tender, juicy, and filled with flavor. Oh, so good. The juice from the meat would fill our mouths and run down our throats, It was like my mouth was in epicurean heaven. I would beg for seconds and thirds.

Once dinner was finished, I helped Mom clear the table and put the dishes in the sink to soak. While I scrapped the dishes, Mom put on a fresh pot of coffee and poured milk for me and Fred. Although I was not allowed to have coffee, I loved that rich scent. She pulled the magnificent cake out of the refrigerator. The white icing was spread so thick with all those wonderful swirls and tips. She got the Neapolitan ice cream out of the freezer and handed it and the scoop to me to bring to the table. She followed with dessert dishes, cups and saucers. I sat down and she went back to retrieve the cake. It took her a bit longer as she set up the birthday candles and lit them. Daddy lifted his camera to get the first picture of the birthday cake.

Everyone sang, I blew the candles trying to get every single one. I usually missed one which caused Fred to start teasing, so he helped. If Daddy missed the shot, we had to pose for another. Candles would be relit and we would blow them out together after the required pushing and shoving. Finally, I made the first slice and the obligatory wish.

There was something silver on the cake, it looked like a ballerina. “What’s this, Mom? It’s so tiny. Is it a new Monopoly piece?”

“No, it’s a reminder that this is a charm cake. Each one of you will find a charm in your slice and you will get a prize based on what charm you get.”

Mom cut and passed out cake with scoops of ice cream. She warned us to be careful; it would not do if we choked or bit the charm in half. As we masticated the cake, we got to better enjoy the flavor and texture of Mom’s baking expertise. Once discovered, charms were wiped off and identified. Always prepared to make a special time better, Mom had grab bag prizes. They were simple dime store items, but fun.

My parents had a way of making my birthdays special; I remember those birthday dinners, the love and family spirit.