Author’s Note: To my wonderful readers, please consider rescue for your next pet. They don’t all have stories like this, but they all have stories.
Today is a good day, you are merely bored today. You walk in a circle around the post until your rope gets tangled and causes the chain embedded in your neck to tighten. When the pain of metal on open flesh becomes unbearable you stop. You lay down. Your pads are worn smooth from the endless hours of pacing on hard concrete, and they are achy and cracked. Your nails are still sore from the clipping last week when the people cut them down, down, past the quick, cutting skin and nail as one. At least there is no clicking noise now. When you click, the people come.
Your mouth is dry and swollen and your nose is so raw you cannot even lick it without pain, so you lie there, head between your paws. You haven’t felt the hunger in days but the thirst, the thirst never goes away. You try to lie on your side because your belly is burnt from having to lie in your own excrement which has singed your fur to nothingness, but when you move to your side the chain tightens and you have to get up again and try to figure out how to untangle yourself.
Footsteps on the wooden stairs alert you. The people are coming. As soon as their faces can be seen, you hit the floor, nearly shattering your elbows in the movement. You wag your tail slowly and urinate and defecate in fear, which burns and itches your belly simultaneously. You do not have time to try and lick it to ease the pain. As they come nearer, you see there is one of the usual men and a smaller person, who peeks out from behind the other’s shadow. Before the man is in front of you, you can smell the water. You begin to salivate. Cringing in fear, you force yourself to crawl forward, arching your head back and stretching toward the man, licking as you go, a sign to tell him you do not want to fight. You continue to wag your tail. You are afraid, but thirsty.
The man laughs at your display and tosses the water bowl on the floor so it clangs and tips over. You roll your eyes so the whites are showing, trying to watch the man with your head and the water with your eyes as the precious contents spill onto the floor and start to slowly seep into the concrete. You try to hold back your whimper. You know the people do not like to hear. Because you are so afraid of the man, you are frozen, helpless to stop the slow seeping of the water. Drop by drop you watch it.
The man laughs again, and the small person steps forward, curious. You cannot take your eyes off of the water, it is disappearing quickly now. The small person takes another step toward you, but the man grabs his arm and squeezes hard. You can smell the small person begin to sweat and hear his heart begin to race. The man rips the small person away and back up the steps. As soon as his head disappears up the steps, you dash over to the water, lapping it off the floor as quickly as you can, damning the scraping of your tongue on the concrete, then you nudge the bowl with your nose to preserve what is left. The water eases some of the pain on your burning throat and you sigh deeply from within. Yes, it is a good day.
More days go by. From the small sliver of a window in the dank basement you’re housed in you can see the sun rise and set, rise and set. As you get hungrier, you sleep more, but the sleep is not restful. You wake often, your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth while your body tries to salvage moisture. You eliminate as far away from your sleeping area as possible, but it is getting harder to get that far. Long ago, you remember having a voice, but you haven’t heard it in so long. It’s given up on you.
Then the people come. There are two men this time, and the small person again. You can’t smell kibble or hear water lapping against a metal bowl. You crouch down and eliminate, shaking. You know what is coming, but you cannot make it stop, so you submit.
One of the men grabs your muzzle. He smells of liquor and sweat and a sweet smoke you often smell coming from the ceiling. You try to open your mouth, but his hold is tight. You thrash your head from side to side, causing the chain to dig into your neck until the other man kicks you in the ribs, and you stop.
The man who has your muzzle pulls a roll of duct tape from his pocket, and it makes a thwapping noise as he unrolls it on your nose, over and over again, tighter and tighter. He cuts the end with his teeth, and you snort, panting through your nose because you are unable to open your mouth.
The other man pushes you onto your side, then your back. He grabs your back legs and leans down to bind them with the long rope he’d had around his neck. Then he stands and the two step back to admire their work. The little person steps forward and tilts his head. You stare at him, pleading, but one of the men takes his hand and leads him away while the other man throws you over his shoulder and they take you up, up into the setting sun where the smell of blood and death and terror greet you.
They toss you down onto concrete. Your eyes dart, a dog is in one corner, lunging and snarling and gnashing. You look away and try to roll onto your back to tell the dog you mean no harm, but with your back legs bound you are unable. You try to crawl away, but you aren’t fast or strong enough. The dog is let go. It tears into you, and you try to yelp and say it hurts, but your mouth is held fast. Your face is bitten and scratched, but the duct tape holds. Eventually, the dog is pulled off only for another to come in its place. This goes on for hours as you bleed into the concrete. Drop by drop you watch it.
Some dogs do not bite. They come up to you and sniff, one young dog even play bows. These dogs are drug away and beaten. Sometimes you swear you can hear them yelping even after you can no longer hear them breathing.
This has happened before, but today is different. Today, when it is over, they do not take you back down. Instead, they cut your bindings and take you out, where the bright light burns your eyes and the smells are overwhelming. You ride, they drive, then stop. They pick you up, dump you on the side of a remote road and speed off. You struggle to stand. When you cannot manage, you find a bush somewhere and crawl underneath it. You are too tired and in too much pain to even smell the sweetness of the spring.
After days of sleeping and wandering, picking through garbage, and getting yelled at, you collapse. When you open your eyes, you’re in a whole new world.
It’s been a year now, and you sometimes can’t believe it’s still real. You have a cozy bed cuddled with your new humans who are kind. You have another dog to play with you who doesn’t bite (not hard at least). You have a yard to run in, all the food you can eat and all the water you can drink, at first, you got bowls and bowls a day, as many times as you could empty it they would fill it. You’ve discovered toys and snow and the neighbor’s puppy. You’ve relished in bones and peanut butter and steak. You’ve swam and jumped and chased rabbits. Your nails have grown in and your scars have healed and been covered with fur. Your belly is no longer red and raw, and you are growing stronger. You’ve learned that clicking is good now, with these humans. These humans like to hear, and you make sounds to delight them often. But sometimes, when you least expect it, you still remember.
On those days, the humans are quiet and careful with you, something you did not know that humans could be. They don’t yell when you urinate in fear, and even though you cannot tell them it is not them that you are afraid of, but the past, they seem to know.
In words and kind touches, they tell you it is over now, and slowly, you are beginning to believe them.