A Dog Tail-Friendship, Hardship, and Love
by Addie Ziegler
April 24, 2011
"Happy! Rolo! Rufus! Dinner!" John screamed out the screen door. At the time I was sniffing the perimeter of the wooden fence as usual, trying to track the rabbit I had smelled for 5 dinners now.It wasn't much use, though. There was a tall fence that separated me and that bunny. I wish they would just take the fence down so I could eat real meat instead of that dried-up fake food they poor in my tray every day. Rufus was sleeping, normal for him-the laziest dog I've ever known. That's only four, so there might be one or two other dogs even lazier. Happy was curled up on the outside couch with Devin, his boy. Happy is such a baby. He was the runt of the litter and has black and brown patches while me and Rufus have tan and brown patches on our fur. He expects to be held 24/7 and can't be walked without his sweater to keep him warm. I say no to clothing. Why should I have any clothes when I have an inch of fur covering my body? All he does is spend time with Devin, the youngest member of the three brothers. I have no idea how the three of us are even related- we act so different. The funny thing is we depend on each other. Happy needs protection, I need a playmate, and Rufus needs to be woken up when he misses dinner time. We all have grown to love each other-we are brothers, so we must like it or not. We have been together since birth. Three Jack Russel Terriers, brothers, siblings, friends. John was still yelling out the door to come on the porch for dinner. I quickly run to him, my boy, and he gives me the first cup of dog food out of three. Happy races after me and Rufus, of course, takes his time coming and walks to John for the last cup of food. By that time, Happy and I had both finished our meals. We eat a lot faster than the Shi tzu next door. We eat the stale food that doesn't taste good but is filling.
Afterwards, John hooks the leash on my collar and walks me past the outside gate. I enjoy the walks we take. He always goes on and on about his day, the latest gossip, and how he's feeling. Once he even told me about this girl he was obsessed with - wierd things that humans feel called "love". I know we can't communicate, but I understand him. His words. His thoughts. His feelings. Happy and Rufus haven't mastered it yet, but I intend to teach them when they're ready. Understanding humans is both a joy and a burden. Humans get jealous, sad, angry, and other horrible emotions. Dogs have a simple, forgiving attitude if they are treated right. Most of our walks have been happy and fun-but this time I heard some bad news.
"Er, Rolo? The walks will have to stop for a few more days because there is supposed to be a bad storm soon, like the 28th, maybe, I'm not sure. We can't afford to have all of you three cleaned up if you get wet. or muddy," John said. I whimper in sadness. We normally have about 2 walks a day so we would be missing 8 walks! It may not be that bad, I could always just run around the yard in place of a walk. Happy and Rufus may not be very sad about this, but I was.
April 27, 2011
All I heard was wind. Thunder. Lightning. Rain pattered against the window pane and on the roof. I was, for once, on the couch with the three dogs and three boys. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were in their chairs. A painful look took over their faces as they stared out the window.
"In a few minutes," Mr. Smith said "We might have to go down to the basement." No one gave any response, other than a nod. The humans were to bust watching the TV as it flashed with a colorful map and a man pointing at things. He was mouthing something, but the volume was low. Riley, the middle child, got up to turn it up.
"Take cover if you live in Jacksonville, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Decatur, Alabama!" He was saying.
"Let's go! NOW!" Mr. Smith said as we rushed down the stairs. Then we were huddled in the basement that was damp and dusty. The three dogs crawled under the old sofa while the humans put pillows on them and crouched down.
Next thing I knew, the roof had collapsed and the couch was one of the only things that stayed. About thirty minutes later, Rufus, Happy, and I wiggle through whats left of the flattened house and try to see whats going on. People in red are running through the street yelling things to workers who were carrying people out on stretchers. Sick and limping people come out of whats left of the neighborhood.
"John?" I barked.
"Rolo, you have to stay strong," Rufus said.
"Rufus is right," Happy agreed.
"It's all my fault," I said looking back at the rubble.
"No, it's not. It was nobody's fault. It wasn't your job to stop the storm," Happy said.
"Yeah," Rufus nodded.
"But is was my job to protect them. To always be there for John!" I barked. After that I ran down the street and past the gates. I wanted to run from anything that would bring me to the past. I ran and never looked back. I went past the buildings that lined the city. The lights on signs flashed by as I kept going. I never turned back. I ran past the damaged part of the forest until I made it to the untouched side. After dodging limbs and trees for 20 minutes I stopped to rest on a log. My legs were giving out and I was panting-like the dog I am. Every time I closed my eyes I saw a memory of me and John playing or him holding me in the brief time I let him.
I took a long nap on the log and when I woke up the sun was peaking over the horizon. When I regained my consciousness, I sat up. My paws were raw from running on the rubble and broken pavement. I needed to be cleaned so I tried to find some water around. I sniffed for a few minutes until I came upon a small creek running down a small hill. I had a drink, but it wasn't enough water to clean in. I followed the trickle of water until I came to a tiny lake. I immediately jumped in. The cool water felt so good on my scarred body. The wounds stung a little, but they were not hurting as much. I had all the scars because the huge mirror that hung from the wall in the basement had crashed and shattered. A few fish swam under me and I realized how hungry I was. My nap must have been more like a long sleep. I held my breath and ducked under and looked around. Below, I saw a good looking fish swimming around. He was about one foot long and pretty thick. I darted down and tried to pounce on him. He slipped from my grasp and wiggled away. I surfaced the water for a breath. Suddenly, from above the water I heard a voice.
"That's not how you catch a fish," a woman with messy brown hair and faded clothes said. She had a spear in one hand. In fear, I ran up onto the bank. She swung her arm back and thrust the spear forward.
"Ok well now my life is over," I thought. I hunched down to the ground, ready to die. To my surprise, the spear flew past me into the water. I got up and saw as she was pulling it back up. On the tip of it I saw the fish I was trying to get.
"Wow. She has nice aim!" I thought.
"Well, you should have this since you saw it first," she said tossing me the fish. It flipped one time, then I took it by my jaw to keep it still. She threw the spear in one more time and got another fish. Afterwards, she gestured for me to come with her. I stood my ground with the fish and didn't follow. She shrugged and walked off.
"Hope you enjoy your raw fish. I'll enjoy my cooked one," she called out over her shoulder. Maybe this girl could help me, or maybe she wouldn't. She may lead me to a shelter in the woods or the pound. I have learned to trust no one you haven't fully sniffed. I slowly followed her, but when she looked back, I hid. She walked for about ten minutes until I saw a little tent made out of a sideways tree. The outer sheet was leaves, mud, and grass. I saw a burning pile of wood by it, where she was cooking her fish. I snuck in behind her and crept into the tent. It was warm and cozy. A layer of straw lay in the back of the tent. It looked like a oval bowl.
"Where she sleeps," I thought. I sniffed around and found a hole in the mud wall. It had what seemed like a smaller room in it. It was filled with straw. I dug it out and found a leather, worn out satchel. A opened it and found some cans of food and other important things like band-aids, water containers, and pain medicine.
"Maybe she didn't see that she put food in here," I thought. I then walked out with my fish and laid it down. I gave a quick bark and she looked at me.
"I knew you would come," she said, taking the fish. She threw it into the pan that she was cooking her fish on.
"What's your name, buddy?" she asked as she looked at my collar "'Rolo' Nice name! I'm Julie. You can stay with me as long as you want,"
Then, she went in the tent and took some straw from her bed and made a smaller one near it.
"You can sleep here, Rolo."
I curled down in the space and ducked my head.
"Silly boy! It's only noon! We hunt tonight!" She said, patting my head. I whimpered as she slightly hurts a scratch on my head.
"You can nap until dinner's ready," she finished. Then she left the tent and continued cooking the food. Julie. her name rang in my head. I had no idea why I was so tired that day. Maybe it was from deep sadness, or the few wounds I had. My head slowly relaxed on the straw.
Minutes later, I smelled something tasty coming from the fire. The wonderful smell woke me up. I followed the scent to see Julie eating a cooked fish.
"Here," she said between bites "You can have the rest of this." I quietly snorted and nudged my own fish.
"No, Rolo, we must save it for tomorrow. I plan to take you to the city. Birmingham is a big one, y'know? Lots of walking but great deals. I'm gonna try and get a job to keep us living," She said. I heard the word "us" and couldn't help but feel like she was my own family, in place of John. She was similar to John in many ways. The main part is she talks to me like I'm her brother, or another human. If only I could tell her I understood. I had never been to "Burmenghum" or however you said it. I finished her fish to the bone and it was evening when I did. She had gotten some firewood and made the fire bigger.
"We would've hunted this morning, but I didn't have a hunting dog then," she smiled, winking at me. I barked and crawled into her lap. I licked her face and she laughed. 15 minutes later, we were packing for hunting.
"I plan to stay in Birmingham for 2 days, and 1 night, so we need some food, and a little money I had saved up from when I lived in the city-" she had stopped packing the bag and a single tear slipped down her cheek. I sensed that she was sad. Maybe she hadn't been in the woods forever-maybe she ran away. She might have even been an orphan-or maybe even the only survivor in her family from the tornado. Kind of like me-just adding Rufus and Happy. Oh, No! Rufus and Happy are probably wondering the streets with no protection-no guard! I thought. I was so mad at myself from just abandoning them. I decided to go with Julie to Birmingham, but after that I would go check on them. Maybe even take them with Julie, along with me.
When it became a little darker, we headed out. She had her spear. I had my nose and my claws. We were a working team. The hunting lasted for about one hour, then I found a rabbit. I followed his trail for 30 minutes and caught him. I had had lots of practice from home, but now I could carry it through. We took it back to the tent and cooked it for tomorrow.
I slept on the bed of straw and she slept on the other bigger one. It was so peaceful and quiet. I was preparing myself for a long trip tomorrow.
April 28, 2011
Early in the morning, we packed all of the stuff we needed for the journey. She pulled out the satchel of stuff and dug up a nice coat hidden in the straw. I was amazed at how she had hid it away in its warmth. She tugged it on and grabbed the satchel. I carried the rabbit. We followed a trail made my cars a long time ago. She kept going, and I followed. Her brown hair blew in the wind. The golden sunlight lit up her face. If she didn't live in the woods, she would be able to get married anytime she wanted. She was a "beautiful" human-I think that's what they call them. I followed right by her side.
The journey was long. We walked for almost half the day. When we got there, the smell of smoke filled the air. People rushed by us, all either on there cell phones or deep in conversation. A man was waving a newspaper and others were selling jewelry on the road. I took it all in, every last detail. The rabbit was gone, we had eaten it on the way. I was getting hungry, and I could tell she was too. We stopped by a sub shop and I had to wait outside.
"You will be safe here," she said tying my collar to a small rope from the satchel "I'll be right back. Stay here."
She went in, and I stayed outside just like she said.
I waited for fifteen minutes. Thirty. Forty. Forty-five. I was getting worried. My teeth sunk into the rope, gnawing it as fast as I could. When the last hair of rope broke in half, I jumped up onto the window seal. No sign of Julie. I waited until a customer came out and sneaked in the door. I secretly checked under the tables and sniffed under the bathroom door. No Julie. When I searched everywhere, no Julie. Suddenly, the man at the counter looked at me and shouted things grabbing the broom. Most of the things he was saying were words I'd never heard. I picked out "dog", "Why is he here?", "Get out!", and "Who let him in?". He swatted the broom at me as I dodged his bad aim. I was looking at him when I was lifted up from something behind me. My legs tried to fight, but this thing was stronger than me. It turned me around and I met eyes with him.
April 28, 2011
I was trapped in a cage. The van bounced up and down as other dogs barked from beside me. The dog man gave me an evil smile through the mirror. I hated the dog man. I had heard stories about him doing horrible things to dogs. My mind filled with memories of Julie. Memories of John. Happy and Rufus chasing me filled my dreams. I wanted to at least see someone that meant something to me. The dogs in the van with me weren't friendly at first.
One black dog, who was below me in my create, said mean things about me.
"How puny, ya little doggy! How did ya get on the streets? Did ya owner let you out of their lap?" he laughed.
"Hehe look how small he is!" the dog beside me said peering into my cage. He was rolling on the ground laughing. I wanted to get out of there.
"Stop it!" I said but it was nothing more than a choked bark. They kept laughing taunting me. I curled up in the torn blanket I was in. Suddenly, the most beautiful voice I had ever heard came from the cage diagonal from me.
"Rascal, stop! You too, Buddy. I'm not letting you hurt this new friend of mine," she said, like an angel.
"Mallory, please, sorry. We were just having fun with the little guy. No harm here!" the black dog said to her. I couldn't quite see her face, but I knew she must have come from heaven.
"Great. Now he's making googly eyes at you," Buddy said looking strait at me. I quickly curled back up and hid my face. I was so mad at Buddy and Rascal right now.
"Rolo, are you okay?" Mallory said, ignoring Buddy's comment.
"Yeah," I sad, sadly. The van bumped around on the road. It halted to a stop. My cage flung forward a foot or two and then went back. Minutes later the man we shoving me into a cage and locking it inside a room. It was sad and gloomy in there. The room was dark, and a single candlelight lit the room barely. Mallory was next to me, but I didn't pay much attention to her.
"So...where do you come from?" she awkwardly asked.
"Um, Tuscaloosa," I said, turning away.
"It's going to be okay, Rolo," she comforted me. I have to admit I had truly never met a dog like her. Is this "love"? Like humans? No. I decided to not have any distractions. I had to find Julie. But how?
April 28 2011
The next day, early in the morning, I familiar smell filled the old cage room. It had a peachy, fake odor, and I could never forget what it was; Mrs. Smith's perfume she always wore. I poked my head up and looked around. Nobody was in sight but the other dogs, still sleeping. I heard noises of faint talk, and multiple voices. Then, the creaky door flung open, and out came Mr. and Mrs. Smith, trailed by Devin, Riley, and John. He ran to unlock my cage as I scratched at it and barked. My tail waged a mile a minute as I jumped up into his arms.
"Ahh!!! He screamed, dropping me. He held his wounded arm in pain. It looked terrible. I wish I had looked before I jumped. He stumbled to the floor to get eye level with me and stroked my fur, "It's ok boy," he croaked. I licked his face and he let out a choked laugh.
"Well, say your goodbyes, John," Mr. Smith said. A single tear fell down John's face.
"I'm so sorry boy. Now that our home was destroyed, we haven't got and room or money for dogs," he was petting me as I changed from happy to sad. I walked to the back of the cage and turned my head. I was so depressed I couldn't even look at him. He couldn't reach me anymore, so he got up and walked out of the room. I watched him leave out of the corner of my eye and the rest of the family followed.
Could life ever get worse for me? Or is something good going to come out of this?
Then the best thing happened. I never thought me and this person would ever speak again!
Read the rest of this story in the next book!