Days spread into weeks, and my mother would often sit or lay talking to Sam. Passing the time talking about their past and reminiscing on happier times. When they were taken out to run in the fenced in area in the back they’d run off together playfully biting at one another’s necks. Then when they were done they’d stretch out in the grass admiring the new smells in the air and the clashing of squirrels running in the nearby woods. One day, Sam asked my mother how she came to call the streets her home.
“It all started with my mother,” she started. “My mom, she was what humans called a purebred. She had a lineage as far as the eye could see is what she always told me. Then one day, she got out and took off for a few days. When she came back, the humans didn’t know she was carrying four extras with her.
“Well fast forward, the humans were disgusted with ‘mutts’ as they called me and my brother and sisters. They tried selling us, my sisters Mitzy and Hiccup were found a home. My brother Chubby and I were put in a brown box that smelt like…like rotten food. The humans took us somewhere, I remember the drive was bumpy and long. I don’t know where we were left at, but I remember it being cold. We both huddled together in a corner of the box. Scary things kept making noises…”
“C’mon doggies!” The lady with the brown hair, who my mother came to know as Rachel, called out.
“Well…we best be getting back inside.” Sam’s joints cracked as he got up. They both jogged towards Rachel. She put a collar on Sam and then me and led them inside to their boxed imprisonments.
As soon as the metal cage door closed them in, they waited patiently for her to take her other two dogs out and let them enjoy their momentary freedom.
“So, tell me the rest of your story,” Sam whimpered.
“Well…there were so many scary noises we started whining. Eventually we did fall asleep, and awoke the next morning to birds singing. We huddled for awhile, and then I clambered my way out of the box. Chubby stayed behind because he was afraid. I told him I wasn’t going to stay here and that we needed to find food. He cried some more and stayed inside. I left in search of food. There were trees everywhere, but in the middle of them was an old road ridden with cracks. I followed it down for awhile, it seemed like forever.
“My paws were starting to hurt, but then I saw a house. And in front of that house was a porch and on that porch was a bowl of some sort of food. I ate at it hungrily and then felt ashamed that Chubby wasn’t there. So I ran all the way back to the box that smelled like rotten food, and barked at Chubby to come and get some food. He struggled to get out, but did manage to get out. We walked back down to the house and showed him the bowl. He happily scarfed the rest of it down. We decided to go under the porch where it seemed safe, and there we nested. We heard a voice, singing and humming to some sort of music that faintly floated in the air. ‘Oh my, the cats were hungry today,’ she said in a surprised voice. We continued to stay under the porch. Every morning that lady poured food into the bowl, and every morning when we were sure it was safe we would hustle to the food dish and eat it all.
“Then one day, the human lady caught us. She put out some food and when we stepped on the porch and started eating the food she rushed out the door letting it slam. ‘Now I know why the food was always gone. You git dogs! Scram! This ain’t for you!’ she chased us off. We yipped all the way into the woods down the street. After awhile we did go back to sleep under the porch, and the next day she put more food out. We waited a long time before making our way to the food bowl. When I went down to eat, I noticed it smelt funny. There was a liquid mixed with the food. I didn’t want to eat it, and told Chubby we shouldn’t eat it. But he chose to anyways.” Mother looked down at this moment; a deep sorrow filled her stomach. Sam sensed what was about to come.
“It wasn’t good food was it?”
Mother looked at him, “No. Whatever that liquid was, it killed Chubby. He died that night, as I lay huddled next to him. He moaned from agony and I could only comfort him by nudging him, until at last when morning came his body was cold and stiff. That’s when I decided to move away. I didn’t like leaving him there, but I had no choice.”
Sam sat in silence, taking it all in.
“What about you, Sam? Where did you come from?”
Sam pricked his ears forward, “I was born a stray, wandering the streets. I was adopted once, and for a year I was loved unconditionally, but then the humans were always gone and constantly fighting with each other, so they gave me up. I went to a place similar to this one, and I was adopted again by a man who lived by himself. A small child, named David, would visit every once-in-awhile and refer to him as ‘Grandpa’ and I was happy with him for years. I’d sit at his feet while he sat and read book after book after book. Sometimes he wrote stories about me. Then all of a sudden he couldn’t keep me, and gave me to someone else, who was not a nice man. He hit me a lot, and would hardly feed me. He kept me tied up outside, and my chain never offered me freedom. Then all of a sudden I’m being taken away and now I’m here. Talking to you.”
As if on cue, Rachel was bringing back the other two dogs back causing a great ruckus between the other dogs that were going to be lead outside. After Rachel managed to get her next two dogs out, she came back with some food for Sam and my mother.
“Here you go Lizzy girl. I put some extra love in there for you.” My mother looked down at her food where a wet substance lay on top of her food. The first time any human gave her extravagant food without a secret death wish.
She scarfed it down happily.