Author’s Note: Yep, already missed my goal of posting a “Shelter Story” every Wednesday, but here’s one on Thursday instead. Enjoy!
We are eight weeks old, and we miss our mother. We curl up tighter in one big warm pack and whine, wondering where mother went. The food here is hard and cold, nothing like the soft warmth of mother’s milk. The water is cool and sometimes stale and doesn’t have the richness we are used to.
We had barely begun to explore our world when a human put us in a big cardboard box that made us sneeze. We all clambered to the top, stepping on one another, trying to pull ourselves out so we could run back to mother. She stood nearby, whining and looking at the humans. Her shoulders sagged and her tail wagged slowly a couple times then stopped.
Gently, the human pushed us back down into the box and shut the lid. The darkness made one of us start yelping. As the box began to move, mother’s smell faded, and we all joined our voices in with the first. Mother, oh mother, why did you let them take us away?
The place we were left is noisy and frightening. Other dogs bark and bark like they’re going mad, and we shiver and whine and paw at the walls which are hard and hurt our soft feet. The smell of urine and the chemicals to clean the urine burns our noses. Many humans come every day. They crouch down and put their scary faces near us. They make loud noises we don’t understand and the small ones shriek which hurts our ears. Sometimes, a person will take one of us out. We all surge forward because we want to be away from the noise and the smell too. Sometimes one of us comes back, but sometimes not.
Then the people all leave all at once and the place becomes dark so we can hardly see one another. The barking never stops though, and we huddle together and try to comfort each other with our warmth which is not like mother’s.
One by one, we disappear until there are just a few of us left. And then, another comes back, but he is different. He smells of the humans and some outside smell, but mostly of chemicals. He doesn’t want to play; he just sits in a corner all day until the humans come, and then he charges to the gate and jumps and squeals. He is different now. He only has eyes for the humans. He is no longer one of us.
Eventually though, we all get taken away, and we all become different. People become our families, and they make us into different dogs. One of us becomes an agility champion, tackling the weave poles with gusto, happy for a tug on the other end. One of us loves people so much she becomes a therapy dog, visiting with sick people in hospitals, listening to their stories. One of us has an older dog brother, and they spend their days romping in the yard and sleeping on the couch. One of us ends up back in this place because he ate a pair of expensive shoes. He goes to another home where he learns that shoes are not toys despite the fact that they look like them, and now he’s the star of his family’s parties – he knows over fifty tricks.
We all become different. The humans fill us with sadness and love, fear and excitement. They make us into good dogs or bad dogs and then another human molds us again. We are clay in their hands, but no matter how many times they reshape us they cannot remake us and part of us will always remember mother and the cardboard box.