I knew it was going to happen. I tried to act like my brothers and sisters. To jump, to play, to lick the offered fingers, to wag my tail. Mother looked on with pride and sorrow. At night when we slept, she whispered how proud she was of us. She would be sad to see us go but knew it was the way of the world. We were destined to leave her warmth to become companions. To guard our human friends with our lives if necessary. To provide warmth on cold nights, comfort in times of sorrow and to love at all times. To just be there.
We were all asleep when the first ones came. A face appeared over our box, then another and another. Suddenly waking, I backed into the farthest corner, barking. My almost tiny yelps awakened the others. However, their reaction was different from mine, they crowded closer to the humans, falling over each other, their tail beating the air. The girl picked up my sister, the one with the black and white face. My mother never named us, she said that our human friends would pick the perfect name.
The girl squealed and petted my sister. “This one daddy. I want this one. I’ll call her Rosy.“
“Alright dear, if you’re sure,” the man said as he handed my mother’s human friend some green paper.
“Oh yes daddy she’s perfect.”
And so they went away carrying Rosy.
I hung my head. I had missed my chance to be picked. The others milled around excitedly talking among themselves. I curled up in the corner, too miserable to join in the banter.
The next time I was determined to be like the others. But invariably each time I did something wrong. Once I was so nervous, I became ill and vomited. Another time a boy picked me up and I peed on his hand. He almost dropped me putting me back into the box. His mother handed him a tissue to wipe off his fingers.
Later my mother came to me and said, “Don’t feel bad you will find your human friend.”
“When mother, when will I find my friend?” I asked. I wanted to cry, it seemed I was always passed over.
“You’ll know when the time is right.” She said licking my face.
So it went until I was the only one left. All my brothers and sisters had found their human friends.
Time went on until it was just my mother and me. She nuzzled me licking away my tears. Yet I wasn’t comforted. I must find my destiny.
After several weeks I moped around for days barely eating. I had no appetite for food. Our human friend commented to his wife, “Number two is off his feed.” He called us puppies numbers in order of our birth.
Out of the box, I wandered the house. I had learned to go to the bathroom outside long ago. My mother’s human friend put the box away until the next time it would be needed.
I now slept with my mother snuggling up to her side. My feet seemed to be too big, I was constantly falling over them.
Time passed. At six months I was too old to be called a puppy, too young to be a proper dog. I spent most of my days alone, my mother having better things to do than chaperone me.
In the backyard one day, I saw something tiny and white float to the ground. Soon the sky was filled with them. I stuck out my tongue. It felt cool, refreshing. I couldn’t explain why but for some reason I suddenly felt very happy. No reason for it, I couldn’t explain it. I began to run in circles. I chased my tail. Not a very productive enterprise. Watching from the porch, my mother smiled.
“It’s called snow.” She called out. “Soon our human friends will decorate their houses with lights, a tree and other things.”
More fell until it was difficult to see the house. “Come on in son.” my mother called. “There will be a fire in the fireplace tonight.” She turned to the door. I started to follow her thinking of stretching out and just letting the heat penetrate my body. I mounted the steps to the porch then stopped. Something was wrong. I could sense it. My mother felt it too. She stopped, looked at me and said. “Go.” That was all I needed. Leaping off the porch I shot around the corner and raced down the street.
That’s when I saw them. A little girl, her feet braced against a dark van. A man in black clothing had his hands on her back trying to shove her inside. “No please leave me alone. I want to go home.” She sobbed, “I want my mommy.” The man grabbed her around the waist and lifted her off the ground. Tearing her hands from the door, he flung her inside.
Distracted, he never saw me coming. I ran off the sidewalk, my claws digging in into the earth, giving me more speed. True, I had not gained full weight. However, I had the element of surprise on my side. A steely determination came over me. I must save this little girl or die trying,
Fifty feet behind me, my mother ran, her nails clicking on the concrete. The man grasped the handle of the door to slide it closed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw me. His face paled, his eyes widened, he shrieked. I launched myself at him, going for his throat, finding his arm I dug in my teeth. He fell backward against the van, shaking me, I held on.
My mother, coming up, bit him in the thigh. He screamed again, falling. On the ground now, he tried to crawl away. We surrounded him. A deep throaty growl came from my chest.
Freed, the girl leaped from the van and ran to a nearby house. She pounded on the door. A few seconds later, an elderly man opened the door. By this time, the man lay on the curb with his back to the van. He was weeping and bleeding from a dozen bites. He started to crawl away I stepped into his path, my teeth bared, growling. The man shrunk back.
“Help… help he tried to kidnap me.” The little girl said, her voice quivering.
A woman appeared behind the elderly man, she held out her arms, hugging the girl. “Come in honey you're safe now.” The woman said.
The kidnapper crawled under the van. My mother grabbed one ankle, I the other, we braced our feet dragging him out. He screamed again louder this time. The elderly man came out of the house holding a shotgun. He pointed it at the man.
“Help me, I didn’t do anything wrong, they attacked me for no reason.” Tears ran down the man’s unshaven cheeks. ”Please let me go.”
“Don’t you move,” the elderly man said. My mother and I backed up a few feet, growling. The kidnapper pushed himself off the ground. I lunged at him, barking. He settled back down beside the van. Sirens approached, screaming so loud they hurt my ears. Two police cars turned the corner into the street. They skidded to a stop, blocking the van from the front and rear. Leaping from the vehicles the officers drew their weapons. The elderly man lowered his shotgun. Seeing the officers had the situation well in hand my mother and I backed into the yard and lay down in the increasing snow.
“We’ll take it from here sir,” one of the officers said to the elderly man.” Both police officers lifted the kidnapper to his feet. My mother and I watched the man for any sudden moves.
“Thank you,” the elderly man said, his shotgun now pointing at the ground. “Little girl’s in the house. She said he tried to kidnap her.” He pointed to his home with the hand not holding the gun.
The officers shoved the man against the van. After patting him down, they handcuffed him. He twisted his head looking at us.
“They hurt me,” he said, his voice a whine.
“Tell you what, we’ll take you to the emergency room before we book you into the jail.” The other officer said smirking.
The woman emerged from the house holding the girl by the hand.
“He tried to steal me,” the girl said pointing at her would be kidnapper.
“We’ve been looking for him,” one officer said. They put the limping man in the back of one of the police cars. Leaving him there, the two officers came over to talk to the humans. One said “You’ve got some brave dogs there.” He reached down and patted me and my mother. I smiled at him. Weeping, the little girl hugged my neck. I licked her tears away. My mother smiled at me. I was home.
That was last December. I found out later the little girl’s name was Kimie and she was eight years old. As for me, I just turned one. I now live with Kimie and her family. They have a cat named Chester. Chester and I are friends. Kimie became my human friend. I walk her to and from school each day. In the evenings, we play ball. I love that. I sleep at the foot of Kimie’s bed and greet her every morning with a kiss. I’m home. It’s a good life.