Hello, and Happy Holidays, no matter how, what, when, or where you celebrate! I hope you are able to find some happiness and relief in this week’s celebrations after a long and hard year.
Today we’re hitting Episode Five of my FREE Novella, entitled Imagine: Life on a Chain. Imagine finds himself still chained, but wrapped in memories of another time that feels so long ago. If you need to catch up, start with Episode One and follow the prompts at the end of each episode all the way through to where we are today. I hope you’ll share Imagine’s story with all your dog-loving friends…his and others living chained deserve to be seen and heard. Thank you.
Imagine…Life on a Chain
Episode Five: Now What?
The Beginning of the End
The dog was drawn from his reverie by a sound from the bushes behind him. He hopped to his feet and turned toward the noise, chain clanking. He was vulnerable and he knew it. The thickly-coiled logging chain gave him zero choice in the matter: fleeing wasn’t an option for the dog his owner called Magnum. The once-gentle animal was left to fight for his life, no matter the foe.
Despite the highway being only blocks away, the woods and river to his rear offered the occasional brush with animals larger than the medium-sized dog, including bear and coyote. To date, these passersby had always been more interested in stealing his dinner than in making him dinner, but he knew the day could come when hunger drove them further.
He understood that drive, as he himself had attacked and killed smaller animals who dared venture into the ring created by his dragging chain—though in his youth he would have been more likely to befriend other creatures, even welcome their company.
“When I was young and foolish,” the dog thought as he stared into the brush.
Fear for his life kept him on high alert now, but relief took over when he saw it was only Thomas, a bedraggled black cat who lived three houses down. The cat sometimes taunted him by lounging just out of reach of his chain, but Imagine didn’t bother giving chase anymore, understanding Thomas was probably just as lonely for companionship as he was.
Thomas strolled to a nearby patch of sun and lay down, stretching to take advantage of the warmth drawn to his black coat. Imagine relaxed too, feeling a little less alone with the cat nearby. He slipped back into his memories, although he was poignantly aware he’d be better off forgetting what came next…
Imagine raced upstairs to find Mom facedown on the kitchen floor. He was hit by the rusty odor of blood, and a trickle weaved its way from Mom’s forehead through the grout in the tiles beneath her. Panicked, Imagine turned to his sister. “Dream, I can hear she’s breathing; lick her hands and face to try to wake her up. I’m going outside to get Dad.”
Dream nodded and Imagine raced back downstairs and out the doggie door. Imagine had never liked the sound of the mower…it was loud and scary to his sensitive ears. But he knew he couldn’t indulge his fears today: he HAD to get Dad to pay attention! He raced to the middle of the yard and frantically circled both the mower and Dad, barking ferociously.
“Dad, it’s Mom! Please, please, come inside, NOW,” he yelped, hoping his unusual behavior would be enough to pull Dad from his task.
Dad turned off the mower, a concerned look on his face. “What is it, boy? Is everything ok?”
Imagine continued to bark and circle. The pressure to get Mom help immediately drove him to a frenzy he didn’t understand—he just knew Dad had to go inside.
To his relief, the message was not lost on Dad. “Alright, alright, you’re worrying me now. This isn’t like you, boy…I’m coming.”
Dad and Imagine hurried inside, Imagine through his doggie door and Dad sliding the screen door open and rushing in. By the time the two reached the kitchen upstairs, Mom was sitting up, Dream still worriedly licking the blood from her hands and face.
“Val!” Dad cried and knelt beside her, looking her over. “Oh my God, honey, what happened?”
“Calm down, Dennis, dear,” Mom said weakly. “I honestly don’t know. When I stood up I felt rather dizzy, and I think I hit my head against the counter. I must have passed out…”
“I’m calling the ambulance,” Dad cut her off, reaching for the phone. “You haven’t been yourself lately. You might have a concussion.”
Despite Mom’s assurances that she “would be fine, just give her a minute,” soon the sound of sirens reached their neighborhood, and Mom was ushered into a waiting ambulance on a stretcher, emergency personnel hooking up things that beeped and made strange noises.
Imagine and Dream stood miserably off to the side of the commotion, wondering if they’d ever see Mom again. Both dogs shook as the adrenaline wore off and a bone-deep weariness took over.
Tamira Thayne is the author of It Went to the Dogs: How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups. She’s also written other books for adults and children, including these for adults: Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, and The Curse of Cur. For kids of all ages she’s published No Guppy Puppy, Raffy Calfy’s Rescue, Spittin’ Kitten’s Speed-Away, Squirmy Hermie’s Heroics, Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, Happy Dog Coloring Book. She is the editor of More Rescue Smiles, and co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.