Long soulful keening wafted on the breeze swaying through the tree tops. The sound was loss. The tone was hopeless.
He couldn’t believe he was all alone. Again! How many times can you get dumped? Something must be fundamentally wrong with him. Maybe he was trying too hard. Perhaps he shouldn’t immediately fall in love at the first sign of interest. He couldn’t help himself, he knew he was made to love and be loved. Maybe he shouldn’t be so vocal about it.
Yet here he was. Another dirt road. Another stick thrown far into the woods. He just loved chasing sticks. He couldn’t help himself when a people threw one. He had a homing device built right in that insisted he retrieve. Obviously a genetic flaw. Because here he was, tail wagging, stick in mouth, just in time to see the tail lights fading in the distance.
Mama had tried to raise him right. She knew it wouldn’t be easy for him when they started whispering, “Not to breed standard, can’t charge a penny for him, could ruin the breeding program if we don’t get rid of him…”
The “FREE” box at the local Walmart parking lot landed his first temporary situation as Babe’s present from Bubba. The problem appeared to be that Bubba didn’t ask Babe first. Seriously, you could hardly call less than 30 days a home. He had wanted to. He liked the food. He hadn’t understood why they chained him outside to a tree. He knew they would figure out soon enough that he belonged inside with them. He told them about it daily. And nightly. He thought they were warming up to him when Bubba took him for a drive, scratched him behind the ears, and threw that stick…
The second assignment wasn’t much better. Hope dashed by a short stay ending with the stick throw.
This third stick toss made him wonder how many deserted roads were around here. And why did he always have to chase the stick?
Since he left the litter he had received some cruel barks and taunting growls. No opportunity to make a friend or adopt his own people. Right now he was quite despondent, whining to the forest and anyone else that would listen.
Trying to recall what the various people had said about him just left him confused. The people called him many things; Bud, Ugly, Shut Up (they all called him that), Jack, Stupid, Sit, Stay and some other names that the big people wouldn’t let the littler people say.
He had a high opinion of humans and didn’t understand their poor opinion of him.
Whine. Howl. Whimper.
“Hey boy, what’s wrong?”
He heard the voice break through his despair. This time he didn’t leap to his feet or wag his tail. He eyed the tall man warily. Despite his best efforts his tail broke free and started a tentative wag. The man had kind eyes, warm as a blanket on a cold night.
The man leaned down and offered his hand for smelling. He smelled good, like sunshine and earth.
“You get dumped? Been there myself. Hate it when that happens.” As the man examined the dog his eyes narrowed. “You’ve had a rough time haven’t you boy? And Someone has a sense of humor.” This last sentence was said with a pointed look upward.
As the man stood up, he seemed to make a decision. “C’mon.”
Resisting the urge to leap to his feet was hard. He had a different feeling about this man. Could this be the One? Rising slowly he followed the man.
“Honey, what exactly was that prayer you said for Trent?” The man called out as he opened the door to a home cooking kind of smelling house.
A pretty lady came toward the man and stopped fast when she saw the dog. Then she laughed. Quite a joyous sound.
Peeking out from behind the lady was a little person. Slowly the little person walked toward the dog.
The dog cocked his head to one side as the little boy stopped solemnly in front of him. The boy had a patch over one eye. A tentative hand reached out to stroke the dog’s face.
“He is just like me,” the boy said in wonder. “Is he ours? Mom, is this the ‘Hope’ you asked God for?”
The one eyed dog named Hope had found his family.
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