Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)
TITLE: The Task
By Marlene Austin
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As the entourage filled the little apartment, the small, black dog moved deliberately to the kitchen quickly quelling her thirst. Munching a few small kibbles, her next stop was a squat on the dried, yellowed papers the most recent of which was dated four days previous.
“Here you go, girl. Some cool, fresh water should taste pretty good.” The dog gently licked the splotched droplets off the back of the benevolent hand as the water bowls were switched.
Thank you, Two-Legged One. Her tail showed her gratitude.
“Poor little puppy. Wonder what’s going to happen to you, now?”
“Hey, Smith, looks like that mutt likes you. Take him down to the shelter. That’s the best we can do for him,” the brusque voice directed from the other room. “Go on. Get him outta here.”
“Well, we’ll do the best we can for her. This is the third dog from a deceased, alone, senior that we’ve received this week. It gets harder all the time to find these animals homes,” the volunteer stated, shoulders sagging as she cuddled the dog which had just been handed to her.
The black dog found herself in a small separate cage. The kind volunteer had tried putting her in the large open pen, but the other dogs either completely avoided her or snarled at this new addition to the group. “What a shame the Two-Legged Ones have such impaired senses,” the black dog mused. “Otherwise, the fetidness of my last task would have been as obvious to her as it was to the pack."
Over the next several days, many people passed through the shelter. A few even stopped to appraise the black dog’s fitness for their family. One little boy had almost decided that she was going to be his. The boy’s father kept reminding him that his two brothers had bigger, male dogs and that maybe this small, female was not the best choice. The decision was finalized, however, when the boy saw a nine month old, male lab sit and raise a paw to him. The boy was enamored and never looked back at the small female.
The little dog’s quivering began to slow as she was returned to her small crate. Resting her chin on her outstretched front paws, with lids closed, she lay very still, “Thank you, Alpha Father, for your protection. I know the task that you have sent me to perform. I will remain loyal to my task and faithful in service. I await your selection.”
It was about noon the next day when the black dog’s senses pricked with electric anticipation. Most visitors had left with definitive pangs of hunger beating out the uncertainties of pet adoption. There was, however, one Two-Legged figure who drew all of the black dog’s attention.
“I’m really looking for a small dog. I want to be sure that I can pick it up, take it to the vet, and just, generally, be able to handle it – whatever I might need to do. You see, I won’t have any help. And, well, my main need is for a companion, since I just lost my husband a few months ago.”
“We have some excellent adult dogs out in the open pen right now. That way you can see several at the same time - their size and energy level, and tell a lot about their personalities rather quickly.”
As the volunteer worker began to lead the woman through the doorway in the direction of the pen, the little black dog stood, scratched at the cage door, nipped a few small calls, and turned a complete circle with tail waving in banner style as if to say, “Here I am.”
The antics drew the woman toward the cage. When she spoke to the black dog, the dog sat and looked her steadily in the eye, head cocked to the side as if just waiting for instruction.
“Why, you’re beautiful, and smart, too, I’ll bet.”
“Well, this is the most life I’ve seen from this one since coming to us,” the worker affirmed.
“Really?” the kindly woman asked. “Perhaps you need me as much as I need you. I don’t need to see the others. This is the one I’ve come for, right here. On the adoption papers put her name as ‘Carry’. We’ll share the yoke, won’t we, girl?”
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