By Renee Pace
I am suffocating inside my plastic lined steel-barred cage, dying with the thickening silence and quiet sobbing coming from the other room. Locked inside for more than half of the day, my body twitches for the feel of the brisk air that causes my drool to freeze to my face.
Big footsteps lumber down the stairs. Instinctively I cower as far back inside my cage as possible, lowering my body to the pee-stained blanket in an attempt to make my big frame small while keeping my eyes downcast. A whine slips from me when he kneels in front of the cage. Is he going to haul me out for a beating? He did it yesterday when I peed.
He stands, glaring at me with eyes full of hatred but then turns away, and just when I think I am in the clear he gives my cage a good hard kick, forcing it to almost roll over. At the last moment, I leap up forcing my legs wide to keep it upright. Task accomplished, I sit back down and wait.
He leaves. The door shuts loudly behind him. I relax.
Head on my paws, I try to sleep. Can’t. Standing again, I can barely turn around. My legs are cramping in the too-hot musky cage. Gnawing on the bars is useless. I know that from previous experience, except I’m bored and need to pee again. I know now not to bark. That gets me nowhere.
I start whining in earnest. My paws push at the hard plastic frame. I need to run. Doesn’t anyone understand? I need to stretch. I need to get out.
The doorbell rings.
At first I think she is going to ignore it. After all, when he came down the stairs she ignored me and sat like a frightened bird in the other room. The creak of the door opening excites me. She motions for someone to come into the room. A blast of frigid air hits me. I can almost smell freedom. Then the door shuts.
I hear footsteps from the other room as they move to where I’m caged. Hers are familiar because of the soft tread. The other steps are hesitant. My head goes up and my ears perk forward, but curiosity makes me cautious.
I look up. A boy stands in front of my cage. He’s shuffling his feet and he looks lost.
When the cage gets unlocked I try hard not to leap out. It’s too much. Stuck in that hole for too long, my back leg muscles flex with joy and my front paws jump up, almost pushing her, my owner, over.
A good loud command from her instantly forces my body to freeze. Following her pointed hand motions, I sit. She is all business. If I jump up again I will land back in the cage. Not understanding her words does not mean I don’t understand her meaning.
I look at the quiet boy. He’s nodding, not speaking.
My entire body itches to move. I lower my eyes. I force the stillness. I don’t even prance around. She talks fast, using hands to speak to the boy. Thrusting the leash into his hand the boy warily glances at me.
Great, another walker. I know now not to get attached. He might last a day or two with me, if I am lucky. Then he will move on to something easier…something inside where it is warm.
My heart speeds up when he gives a good tug on the leash and moves to the door. He acts all business-like, but the scent of his excitement, like the cool air now coming in from the slightly opened door is refreshing. We shall see who runs who.
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