I THOUGHT I HAD IT BAD—Until I Met Pat
By Steve Parker
I lay there on my rug waiting for the sun to come winking through the lower glass panes on the back porch door. The same darn ritual every day for as long as a dog can remember. Is this what life is supposed to be like? Really? I sniffed the air and realized there was movement in the house…same movement, same smell every day.
The man creature was stirring. Soon the house would come to life for a short time. The man creature appeared in his pajamas and ragged slippers shuffling toward the kitchen sink. I managed a single tail wag which was ignored as he poured water into something that would soon produce another familiar house smell. I enjoyed the earthy smell but had tried to drink the brown liquid once finding it not to my liking.
I sometimes wonder why I am even here. I’ve been in this same house for 13 dog years. I ache, I don’t enjoy walking anymore and to chase a ball is an activity I gave up long ago.
Soon the young boy appeared, bent down for a brief moment and patted my head then turned to the cupboard and I heard the familiar cereal and milk being poured into a bowl and inhaled with loud slurping sounds gone in less than a minute. The woman creature came dressed for the day with various bags, computers, and other woman things. Always the same. Never sitting down, eating while talking on her phone and always moving toward the door. Her only acknowledgement of my existence was to sigh and step over me.
Suddenly in a flash, (I am not sure what a flash is in dog time), I was again left alone for the day. While I was sleeping someone had filled my bowls with water and a handful of tasteless pellets. I nibbled a few and returned to my rug ready to doze through another day. I guess I am relegated to be just an ornament on the rug to step over on the way out the door.
Sometime mid-morning my ears perked up and I came out of a sleepy haze, hearing an unfamiliar noise in the back yard. Drifting back, I heard it again. Although when I was young, I would have certainly exploded through the plastic flap on the doggie door ready for a vicious encounter, today I simply put my head through the flap just far enough that if all was well, I could back up and return to the solitude of my rug. It was then I saw her hiding in the bushes in the corner of the yard with the strong smell of fear radiating from her body, a smell that made the hair on my neck rise.
I softly walked closer and when I got close a new smell came to me; the smell of blood oozing from a deep slash on her left hind leg. I lowered my body into a semi crouch indicating I meant no harm and as I did so, I heard a voice yelling. “Pat, you rotten bitch, get out here!” Immediately the dog crawled deeper into the hedge. As she moved I noticed a bleeding tear in her ear and large purple welts along her ribs and hips.
“Pat, Get over here, Come! Come!
Pat didn’t move and laid so close to the ground it was as if she was hoping the earth would open and swallow her into darkness. Suddenly I heard the voice coming closer. “Pat, Come! Dammit Come!” Pat looked at me with sad eyes and the fear was enough for me. I knew I had to do something.
The voice came closer. I moved toward the gate and saw the voice with a large leather leash in one hand and a stick in the other. I bristled with a strength I had long ago forgotten, rushed toward the gate, baring my fangs and produced a menacing volley of danger growls and warning barks.
“Get away from me you damned dog”, the voice said as he tried to move closer once more. I stood my ground continued my menacing bark and finally the man retreated away saying, “When that damn dog comes home, I’m gonna kill her!”
I returned to Pat and after a few moments she got to her feet and I nudged her toward the door. After I went in and out of the doggie door a few times, she tentatively came through into the kitchen. I led her to the food bowls and she devoured the food and water as if it had been days since she last ate. Finally she joined me on the rug and laid down next to me and fell into a deep, safe sleep. Lying there I realized my dog’s life was a good dog’s life and certainly much better after meeting Pat.