I angle my head to the side when I try to puzzle out what Mom is saying. Despite what you might think, I know quite a few words. My favorite word, of course, is walk. Mom takes me out on the wooded path every day and I trot alongside her. Sometimes we go to the creek where I fish for minnows in the shallows. I won’t go in above my ankles because I do not like to swim. Mom tells me this is silly, because I am half-Labrador and labs are water dogs, she says, sighing. She throws a stick into the water for me to fetch and I turn and give her a level look.
I came to live with Mom and the girls after living three other places. I was born in a backyard, landed in a shelter, and then lived in a college dorm, where I stayed precisely three days. A woman took me away from all the chaos and set about trying to find a home for me. I lay on her kitchen floor listening to both sides of a phone conversation (I have excellent hearing). I heard the woman on the other end of the phone say, “But I’m not really a dog person. We were only toying with the idea of adopting a dog, maybe. But a pitbull?”
“Pits are the most devoted dogs. They’re only aggressive if people abuse them. He’s a pit-lab mix, with brindle shoulders, velvet ears, a handsome blaze on his chest, and chestnut eyes. A sweetie. You could try him for a weekend. Just a weekend.”
The woman got off the phone, patted my head, and said: “I think we’ve found you a home.”
A little later a mini-van pulled up. Two girls jumped out, ran over to me, and hugged my neck tightly. Their mother stooped down, looked into my eyes, and stroked my ears.
The woman who had taken care of me handed the leash over to the mother. “Thank you for this. I don’t think you’ll regret it.”
I hopped in the back of the van, lay down, and dozed while the girls petted me.
I walked into the house, and sniffed here and there while the mother tucked a dog bed in a corner, put out bowls of food and water, and hung my leash on a hook by the front door. Fastening a new red collar around my neck, she ran her hand along my back and said, “Let’s see how this works out.”
I looked up at her from where I lay. She laughed.
That was five years ago, and I’ve been here since. I have a self-appointed job: I take care of my family and watch over them. It’s what I do.
When I sleep I keep one ear attuned to what’s around me. I like it best when my family is with me and I can keep an eye on them. I worry about them and wait by the window when they’re not at home. When they return I wag wildly, welcoming them as if I haven’t seen them in weeks.
They love me. I love them.
—About UntoldAnimalStories.org—We tell animals’ stories from their perspectives. Gentle in our approach rather than shocking, we seek to invite connection, compassion and, from that, action. In addition, we provide tips on what you can do to help animals, and we seek new action ideas, as well as animal and rescue stories, from you.