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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: Dog Heaven
By Teri Wilson


“You never told me it was a pitbull.” The card on the door said Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but I knew what that meant. For most adoptive pet owners, it may as well have said Monster.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t come.” Sheila, the kennel worker at our local pound, looked at me pleadingly.

“You’re right. I don’t rescue pitbulls. They’re dangerous dogs and no one wants them.”

“Please just take a peek. It’s her last day.”

Last day. The words hung in the space between us, heavy with their sinister implications.

I’m not sure what made me agree to see the dog. I pictured my tranquil country home sitting atop its carpet of wild sunflowers, my three rescue dogs peering beyond the white picket fence as they waited for someone to pluck them up and take them to their forever homes. Nowhere in this pastoral setting could I imagine a pitbull.

Still, somehow the words escaped my mouth. “Okay, I’ll take a quick look.”

“Great. I’ll go get the key.”

I stood in the hallway and looked at all the lapdogs in their stacked cages lining the walls. Chihuahuas, Malti-poos, Cocka-poos. The sort of dogs people wanted to adopt. Tiny dogs women could carry around in their handbags. Yet, there I stood waiting to see a dog who remained behind locked doors.

Sheila fumbled with the doorknob. “She’s in pretty bad shape, but seems to be a real sweetheart.”

That’s all she said before she opened the door. Sometimes I wonder why she didn’t try harder to warn me. But, in retrospect, nothing she could have said would have prepared me for the sight of that dog.

She was curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, but rose to greet us when we entered. Her coat was covered in deep puncture wounds, swollen and purple. She would have been pure white, if not for the dried, crusty blood caked on her body. She would have been beautiful, but she was maimed. Her ears were gone, ripped from her skull by some unnamed instrument. In their place were ragged stumps.

Sheila was talking, but her words barely registered in my consciousness. I heard her say something about the dog being dumped by a dog fighting ring. She was too submissive and gentle for their “sport.”

I tried to speak, choking on my words. “What’s her name?”

“We’ve been calling her Snow White.”

Oh, the irony. Clearly life had been no fairy tale for this dog. No one would ever want her.

“I’ll take her.” And I spun on my heels to get the dog crate from my truck. I hadn’t even touched the dog or looked her in the eyes.

As I guided the truck up the drive to my house, stone-cold fear settled in the pit of my stomach. What had I done? A dog this tortured, this abused would never be capable of trusting a human again. She would be better off dead. These thoughts drifted through my mind as I heaved the dog crate through the gate of my picket fence. I plunked it down amidst the tall, golden flowers and opened the door then stood and waited. Nothing.

I was hardly surprised. Who could blame the poor thing? But the trauma of seeing another living creature in that condition suddenly overwhelmed me and I sunk into the sea of sunflowers, burying my face in my hands. I stayed there until the sun’s rays fell from the sky and melted, soft and shimmering into the horizon, turning every petal around me into a tiny sparkling flame.

Then I heard the shuffle of paws on moist earth. I felt her breath, like a whisper, against my flesh. I looked up at the pitbull in my meadow, into her eyes, one chocolate brown and the other a brilliant blue. She wagged her stump of a tail and pressed her soft, pink nose into the palm of my hand.

With that first touch I knew Snow had come home. She would live here forever, in my little white house, in my field of flowers, in my life. Here where the warm summer breeze would gently blow closed her many cuts and gouges. In this place where sticks were for chewing and hands were for petting. Where majestic flowers tilted their faces toward the sun, lifted their leafy arms and stood sentry over the wounded. Where there were no dangerous dogs, no bad dogs - only happy ones.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Fitzpatrick07/19/07
Oh, you have a winner here, even if you don't place- ths is tremendous! Tears filled my eyes as I read your descriptions. You have such a way with words. How prescious was the woman's heart to feel enough for the poor "doggy" that she would give up her own dream of the perfect pet in exhange to make a difference in the life of an abused pup. This is truly lovely!If this is about you or someone you know I say hats off to you or that person for God really uses us as instruments and the main character is surely an instrument in thei engagin story!. God bless,Janice+-
Dee Yoder 07/19/07
Beautiful story! Happy moments in life are like a long necklace of simple, loving connections we make with God's world. Great descriptions!
Lynda Schultz 07/19/07
Pass the kleenex, please. This is beautiful. My thoughts about people who torture animals had best be kept to myself — I'd be banned from Faithwriters for sure! Your descriptions are wonderful — I could see everything you wrote, and feel it all, too. Great job.
Janice Cartwright07/19/07
I couldn't hold back the tears. I think there is a special connection between people and animals traceable all the way back to the garden. How some can harden their hearts to become abusers is beyond me. Lovely lovely story! It impacted me deeply!
Joanne Sher 07/19/07
Absolutely lovely. I was right there with you, and you gave me SUCH compassion for this poor dog. Wonderful.
Elizabeth Burton07/20/07
Love it! How anyone could find amusement out of torturing God's creatures is beyond me...bless sweet little Snow and the person who came to her rescue. Animals can teach us so much about the power of forgiveness and love!
Dianne Janak07/20/07
I loved this.. it brought me to tears.. I was hoping it was a true story.. cause Snow found the perfect home and he deserved it.. also I love the fact that he is a dog most people abhor.. GOOD WORK!
Kristen Hester07/21/07
Dog Heaven indeed. To be adopted by this MC would be heaven. I could picture it all. Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/21/07
This is an absolutely wonderful story. The descriptions captured my heart, and then the dog stole it.
Joyce Samuel07/22/07
Very touching. Well done.
LaNaye Perkins07/22/07
I pray someday I can be as gifted a writer as you are. Your story brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with love for this poor dog. It's obvious you have great compassion for animals. Well done!
Sarah D07/22/07
Wow! I loved this. Brilliant descriptions, unique idea. I hope you do really well!
Dixie Phillips07/22/07
Great story and this has got to be a contender indeed!
Joy Faire Stewart07/23/07
This is one of my favorite this week. The descriptions are wonderful.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/23/07
OK...I'm not even a HUGE animal lover but, come on! You made me bawl like a baby. (Be proud - there aren't too many that do.)
My favorite so far this week...
Judith Hope07/24/07
Yes. Such a good account. Keeping the reader intimately involved and tpuch at a deep core of connection between abject humanity and animal kind. Agree. it works on a primitive emotionhal level, and catches one out. I dont usually blub either. But, in keeping with the utter honesty of the piece, I did. I admire your work here.
Dianne Janak07/24/07
Im coming back to comment. I read this several days ago and it is still vivid in my mind and heart. So much good writing on this site but when one STICKS with us... wow.. its a winner no matter what judges do!
terri tiffany07/25/07
Wow - this was writing at its best! Flowed, vivid, good dialogue, happy ending...what more could I want - except to run out and get a dog!:) I loved your style and the voice - thanks!
Marilee Alvey07/27/07
Teri, this story is a total winner with me! You had me right with you, every step of the way, waiting, wanting to pat her, wanting to look into her eyes. So often I think about the animals that are being abused or those who are left out in the weather, to fend for themselves. My heart can hardly stand the weight of the thought and I pray to God to protect them. This was a happy story for me because one such dog made its way "home." I sure hope that God makes a dog heaven because, in so many instances dogs are such dear angels who ask for so little and give so much. Your writing is AWESOME!