I wait in the small, dark room feeling miserable. Where has she gone? I got too nervous and the smell is nearly overwhelming. I shiver. I’m all alone with only the silence of brick and wood to hear my cries. How long have I been here? What’s that? That’s her voice! I stand and bark, I paw at the door.
The door opens and I crawl over to Rain.
She’s back. She came back! Is she mad at me? I cry and, as she kneels on the floor, I scramble into her lap. She hugs me tight and I tuck my nose into her armpit.
“I’m sorry you were scared, but I couldn’t take you home with me. It was only a couple hours but it must have seemed like forever to you.”
Rain’s voice is shaking and I lift my head to lick the salty wetness from her cheeks. She smiles and I know for sure she’s not mad.
“Let’s go outside and then we can get this cleaned up before anyone else gets to work.”
I’m all wiggles now as she puts my new leash on the collar. I pull ahead toward the sunlight I see at the end of the hall. It’s just a crack of yellow where someone propped the door open but I smell the morning calling in cheerful notes of greeting. Rain talks to one of the men who always speaks in a calm voice to me.
“Thanks, Tom, for opening the door.”
“You bet. Figured some fresh air would help clear out the stink. Did she make a big mess in the bathroom?”
“Yeah. But it’ll be easy to clean.”
“I was here working until nearly three this morning, but I couldn’t take her home with me. He would have been furious.”
“It’s okay. No one else will be here for another hour or so.” The man’s voice was fading as we headed out the door.
Rain follows me as I pull ahead of her across the hard pavement to the wonderful grass and weeds. I squat and pee. I’m surprised I have any left. I thought it all came out in the room when I was all alone.
“Good girl. Good potty.”
Well, at least Rain is happy with me out here. I’m so hungry. I run up to Rain now that I’ve peed, eager to have breakfast and play. She lets me go to the end of the leash and we walk all over the field. I breathe in the dawn, so cool and crisp and full of smells. Soon though -- too soon because I wasn’t done sniffing at the hold I found -- we began walking back to the big building. I started to lag behind. Was Rain going to put me in the dark room again? I sit down and the leash goes straight between us. Rain stops and comes back to me. I just stare at her.
“Okay, listen. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do last night.”
She wasn’t mad. Her voice was soft and light, and she sat down on the curb to talk to me.
“I have a plan now. Not a great one. But it’s the best I can come up with. You’re just going to have to trust me, baby.”
I listen. And I sit as close to her as I can get, my chin on her knee as she pets me. She sinks her fingers into my fur. I relax a little. Okay. I can do this. I can be brave. The tip of my tail taps the concrete, and Rain smiles.
“Good girl.” She puts both hands on my face and rubs the base of my ears. I groan in pleasure.
Rain then attaches the leash to her belt loop, and pulls a handful of kibble from her coat pocket. She calls the leash our umbilical. I don’t know that word, but I can sense safety and connection. So it’s good. I think it means she doesn’t want to lose me, and I trot along with her.
I let my thoughts rest and just tag along wherever she goes, sniffing and watching. Back and forth we go. Rain gets a bucket, and some other things, from a musty smelling closet. Then she goes into the dark room where I made the stinky mess. I halt and sit just outside the door. I sure am glad that I don’t have to go back in there. Bad place.
I feel good. I’m stretched out on my side, nearly dreaming. This was a nice day. I stayed with Rain or under her desk most of the time and I watched all the people and machines. No one paid me any attention. I guess they were used to me already. This is way better than being on the farm with Big Man. I kind of miss running loose in the fields after the cattle, but that wasn’t very often and I’m already forgetting those beasts with their clumsy, slow way of not going where I wanted them to go. And sometimes they would snort and kick at me with their hind legs when I got too close. I always had to watch them carefully. So maybe I don’t miss them. This is better.
Oh good! Food again. I alert and sit up. Rain laughs. I notice that whenever Rain eats, I get to. Not the same food thought. She gives me yummy crunchy nuggets while she eats gooey food out of a paper bag. Her food smells different than mine. I don’t complain, though. I eat what she gives me. Then I stare at her while she eats. I don’t whine, just stare. She smiles and, once in a while, gives me a tiny bit of her own food. I take whatever she gives me carefully out of her hand as I don’t want to hurt her. She always tells me how good I am.
“Okay, baby, it’s five o’clock. Time to go.”
That word “go” is one I know. I jump to my feet and wag my tail. I think it’s time for The Plan. Rain told me about it but I didn’t understand most of what she said. But I trust her.
Oh no. I stare straight ahead. The noise of lots of dogs barking is making me curious. I can’t see any of them, but I know they are just beyond the trees. But my belly is all twisty from the ride in the car. Rain had put the window down for me but I still don’t feel good. I don’t think I like this place. Why are we here?
We both sit here in our seats and I can feel Rain’s sadness. It’s like waves flowing over me. She pushes the fingers of her right hand into the thick fur around my shoulders and rubs. I feel taut nerves sending little sparks off her fingertips.
“I hate to do this, baby, but it’s the only option.”
I hear the constriction in her voice, and I put my ears flatter on my head. I don’t care at all about the other dogs now. I only want to be with Rain. I start to tremble.
“We better get this over with.”
Rain sighs and opens her door. She swings her legs out and stands. I scoot across from my seat to hers very fast to follow her, but she’s quick, too.
With one hand she holds my collar and the other snaps the leash onto it. Good. I like the leash because it connects me to her. I hop out of the car as she steps back. We walk toward a wood building, the sound of the car door slamming behind us is loud as a shot. I slink along next to her legs. I’d sit down and refuse to go further but I don’t know where I am. And I don’t want her to leave me here in the dirt driveway.
Together, we head for the big blue door.
~ to be continued ~