When Called

It’s so, so stupid.

I can hear the dog whistle.

It calls out to me, a long, shrilly whine. Breaks the barrier between real and fake. Breaks down every wall that’s ever been built. Breaks down every obstacle.

It’s stupid.

I’m no dog. And I sure as hell shouldn’t answer to a whistle.

But.

What do I do when I hear it? When that stupid, piercing shriek hits my ears?

I take off running.

So, so stupid. Continue reading “When Called”

Top Dog

When you’re walking alone at night through a park and you hear a large noise in the bush, your first thought is usually:

I’m about to die.

Especially if you’re female. That’s definitely your first thought.

I was no exception to that. Especially when my pup started barking. Growling in that too-cute way that only puppies can.

Poor guy.

He was so small, and a cockapoo on top of that. There wasn’t an ounce of him that was scary. Not a single bit.

The thing in the bushes didn’t seem to disagree.

As I stood there, hoping it was a rabbit or a cat or a possum, it emerged.

And it wasn’t any of those things.

It was worse.

Much, much worse.

Really, it only reaffirmed my fears:

I was going to die. Continue reading “Top Dog”

Grim Awaits

“I’ll be here.”

The words repeat themselves over and over in my mind. My legs move to stand, and they stop. The words are there.

I’ll be here.

Sit. Stand. Sit. Fidget. Keep sitting.

Don’t move a muscle.

The promise can’t be broken. I can’t be found a liar.

I’ll be here.

I sit.

And I wait.

I’m here. Continue reading “Grim Awaits”

Natural Reactions

There are thousands of responses firing in your brain at any given time. Thousands. Keeping track of them all is impossible, and controlling them is an even bigger task. Regardless of your methods and means.

Moment to moment, your brain is doing a million things at once. And, with every moment, there is a different response.

There are a few, however, that trigger a very particular set of responses.

Very different, depending on the situation.

There are moments where your brain has to fire so fast, so intensely, that your brain actually does one of two things.

The first?

Nothing.

Those firings in your brain result in a big blank. A giant question mark. All the fireworks fizzle out at once, leaving the sky dark and empty. In response to all that simultaneous firing, the pressure of your synapses is too much.

You end up doing nothing.

That’s the only way I can explain it. The only way I can understand it. Because my brain has never done that first thing.

It’s always been the second.

Or worse.

Since the curse, it’s been worse.

Much, much worse. Continue reading “Natural Reactions”

Safety First

The first complaint my dog made was not about food. Which was shocking. Considering how big he was on begging at the table, I thought that was for sure what he’d want to complain about.

But no.

Right off the bat, my dog was excited to be able to talk. Excited to not be a dog anymore. And then, once the excitement had died down, he’d made his first complaint.

Which was:

We don’t all sleep in the same room. Continue reading “Safety First”

Crawl, Run, Walk

Have you ever felt like life is trying to stop you? Like everything is an obstacle that was built with you in mind? Like no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make it to your destination?

Have you ever felt that?

Let me ask you:

Have you ever been on a mission before? A real one? With real consequences if you fail?

I have.

I have, and I have prevailed.

Because someone once told me that that’s my job. That’s what they call me in for. Why I get paid. It’s not because I’m just some delivery guy—because I’m not. I don’t work for UPS or FedEx or something. I’m the last line. The ultimate deliverer.

I don’t fail.

When I can’t run, I jog. And when jogging becomes impossible, I walk. And when that stops being possible, I crawl. The speed doesn’t matter, I do what I have to do.

I keep moving forward.

As I look down below, at the snow banks, I understand why they’ve called me out today. Why I’m in this blizzard. In this catastrophic mess.

Because I’ll deliver. Continue reading “Crawl, Run, Walk”

A Dog and Chance

Rehab is never easy. Not for any reason. Not for any person.

And certainly not for animals.

Looking at the beast before me, it was clear to see that life–and humanity–hadn’t been kind to it. It was matted and mangy and had all kinds of lacerations. He looked like something that came unraveled in the dryer. Then, once it was out, your kid threw up on it. That’s how bad of shape he was in.

But I wasn’t in this for no reason.

In fact, this was the exact reason I was here.

Lost causes.

Because if there’s one thing I know about life, it’s that it’ll always give you a second chance. You just had to find the strength and courage to take it. And I wanted nothing more than to help with that.

Second chances.

That’s the whole reason my parents named me Chance. And I wasn’t about to let them, or anyone else, down. Not if I could help it.

Still a little nervous, I went into the cell with the wolf-dog anyway, steak in hand.

“Hey buddy.” Continue reading “A Dog and Chance”

Pound Dog

Probably one of the hardest things about working at the pound is watching dogs get adopted.

You’re glad, you know, because they’re going to a home. They’re finding a family. Getting a group of people who can pay more attention to them than you can in the short amount of time you can spare for their individual care. But still, it’s hard. Because, even though I have a lot of other things I do, and I can’t spend forever with the dogs, I do get to spend some time with them. Enough to grow to like each one individually.

Which is why it’s hard.

Not because I’m suddenly detaching myself–probably for forever–but because I don’t know.

I don’t know what kind of home they’re going to, you know?

There’s almost no way to know for sure if that dog is going to a loving home, or if I’m handing them over to their doom. Those lovable, innocent, kind little dogs.

Do they find good homes?

Do they get the love I’d give them?

I don’t know.

I…

I don’t know.

I can’t take them all home though, so I can’t make sure that they’re getting the love they deserve. Even if I did take them all with me, it wouldn’t be right. They still wouldn’t all get the love they need. I’m only one person. I’ve only got so much time for so many dogs. So, in the end, most of the time, adopting them out is the right thing for me to do.

Still.

It’s hard.

And it’s ingrained into my job. Those worries never go away because I always care about the dogs. And adopting them out is part of why they’re here. Those worries never go away.

But you know what’s even worse than that? Even worse than the not knowing? Than the worrying? Than adopting out a dog you’ve come to really appreciate? Continue reading “Pound Dog”

A Puppy-sized Problem

The door to my brother’s apartment swings open. He’s standing there, having just answered the door for me, only, he’s in his boxers and nothing else.

Typical.

“I need to come in,” I tell him.

Silently, he steps aside and lets me inside his home.

It’s not a bad apartment. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms. Not to mention it’s just temporary. Believe or not, boxer-boy here actually got a promotion at work recently. Yep. He and his wife are movin’ on up to a house soon.

Pretty impressive for an old dog like him.

Tired, I decide to plunk down in his lazy chair and just start in.

“Ted, I brought another puppy home.” Continue reading “A Puppy-sized Problem”