Most of all, I miss my sister. She was brindle like me with white blaze dividing her face and ears that headed upward but took a U-turn. We were one of four puppies born to a tired mother in a shrubby expanse of woodland. Our mother disappeared one day, and we ventured out, hungry, beyond the flats.
Only my sister and I survived, wandering in the woods and feeding on bugs, drinking from muddy puddles, sleeping entwined to keep warm. We were so little.
In a clearing in the woods, an old woman stood on the porch of her cabin watching us. We watched her warily, but she stooped down and extended her hand to us. We went to her and as she stroked our heads, we closed our eyes. She put us into the back of her truck and we bumped down the road, careening this way and that. She handed us over to people to ran a shelter full of barking dogs. Time passed.
One day the shelter closed; they had run out of money. They clanged open the doors of the cages, and a hundred dogs were let go. They wandered off, tentatively, confused, into the Alabama countryside to live, to die. A woman took another hundred of us to her place where they were hundreds and hundreds of dogs. We lived with minimal food, never enough water, and squalor and disease. Many of the dogs died.
One day rescue workers arrived. They talked fast and in a different, clipped accent than I’d heard before. They gathered fifty of us puppies, putting leashes around our necks and picking us up, carrying us into waiting vans. In the confusion, my sister and I were separated. As a man carried me away, talking to me in a soothing voice, I craned by neck and saw my sister among those who remained. I whimpered and struggled, trying to get out of the man’s arms and back to my sister, to no avail. I still remember the look on my sister’s face as she watched me go. Not one night passes when I do not think of her.
…TO BE CONTINUED Part II