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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Irritated (11/08/12)

TITLE: Little Dog
By Fiona Stevenson


“But Aunt Sophie, he’s only a little dog.” Lara was impatient. Her aunt was afraid. The little dog lay just inside their gate, lip lifted in a silent snarl, but he did not move as Lara approached.

“Lara, you have no idea where he comes from. He might be rabid.”

“Has there been a rabies scare lately, Aunt Sophie?” Lara was edgy with impatience.

“I don’t know, Lara. But there has to be a first one before there is a scare.” Aunt Sophie, keeping well back from the animal was desperate to keep her niece at a safe distance, too. “Why don’t you just ring the vet and get them to send someone round?”

“They’d take forever to get here. I wonder why he doesn’t move.” The girl was close to the little dog. “Perhaps someone has hurt him and he can’t move.”

She walked to one side, watching the animal closely. The dog’s eyes followed her but still he did not move. She stepped closer, bending over.

“Aunt Sophie, I think it’s his back.” Her voice was strained and angry. “If I knew who had done this ....”

She straightened and turned to her aunt. Sophie could see the tears in her eyes but her face was hard with anger.

“Can you find something solid and flat, Aunt Sophie? Perhaps the tray from your tea trolley? We need to slide it under him so we can lift him and take him to the vet.”

She ran indoors without waiting for her aunt to answer. Her aunt followed more slowly, trying but unable to think of an alternate ‘stretcher’ than her prized tea tray. When she returned Lara was waiting impatiently. She held a partly folded picnic rug in her arms.

“Hurry up, Auntie!” she called. “It’s starting to rain. Did you bring your car keys as well?”

While she spoke she threw the picnic rug over the dog, kneeling to scoop and tuck, lifting the small animal onto the tray.

“No, Lara, I’m sorry, I didn’t think ...”

Lara gritted her teeth. “Well, please be quick, Auntie,” and as her aunt hurried back to the house she shouted after her, “And bring my bag, too. It’s on the stand in the hall.”

When her aunt returned Lara was standing beside the car trying to shelter her burden from the onslaught of the rain. Her blouse clung to her shoulders, her curls flattened and dripping. It was impossible to tell if the drops falling on the picnic rug were raindrops or salty tears. Sophie, looking at the soaked girl’s face, forbore to suggest that she get changed before they drove to the vet. Her niece was in no frame of mind to accept any further irritant, no matter how reasonable or sensible it was.

She helped Lara slide the tray across the back seat, where Lara crouched next to it, attempting to steady it while her aunt backed the car as carefully as she could, ever mindful of approaching traffic and trying to minimise the bump as they cleared the drain at the edge of the road.

The receptionist at the surgery took one look at the girl’s face and clothing before hurrying her through the waiting room, calling to the vet as she opened the door.

Dr. Rob turned from the patient on the bench before him in some surprise.

“What ... oh, Suzanne, come and hold this cat, will you.”

He hurried over to Lara. “Now, young woman, what do you have here?” he asked as he took the tray from her arms, carrying it to a table on the other side of the room and uncovering the small dog.

Lara gulped the tears down. “He was by our gate. I don’t know where he comes from or who did this, but if I did I’d ... I’d ...” A fresh burst of angry tears cut her short.

“Hmmm. I see.” His practised fingers continued their inspection, his face tightening as he proceeded. Finally he straightened, his expression softening as he looked into the girl’s face.

“I agree with you entirely, my dear. To cause those injuries to any living creature is horrendous. All I can do is to end his suffering. Can you bear to hold his head while I prepare the injection – he needs your love at this time.”

The snarl was gone. The dog lay quiet while she cradled his head in gentle hands, feeling the easing of the pain; the life ebb away.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/15/12
Ahh I didn't see that ending coming at all! You did a fine job of bringing the characters to life and building the conflict. Mental pictures flashed through my head as I read on. This is a story that is true far more often than it should be. I grew up across from a farm and people would toss out kittens or dogs as if they were garbage thinking that the farm would be a perfect place to drop off unwanted animals. Sometimes I just don't get people.
Joanne Sher 11/17/12
Poor little dog. I felt for the dog AND the girl. Heartwarming piece.