Happy National Margarita Day! I haven’t had one myself, but I encourage you to go for it…sometimes a “me and hard liquor” combo doesn’t end well for anyone. But that’s a story for another time…
It is fitting, though, because this is my birthday week, which expands from just a day to a week as you grow older because—let’s face it—you got nothing else going for ya. So Happy 58 To Me! I’ve been told I don’t look a day over 70, so there’s that.
Imagine has finally left that dreaded backyard and reached The Rescue Center, hallelujah! That’s a Happy Birthday to me, too. There was nothing I loved more than bringing in a new formerly chained rescue pup to our rescue center and giving them back the happiness every dog deserves. I’ve based the mythical Freedom Chaser Rescue Center on the one I started and ran at the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs of years past, because use what you know, right?
To catch up on our tale from Episode One, click here. Then follow along with the links at the bottom. Have a wonderful week, my friends. If you enjoy my tale, please share it with your friends on FB, Twitter, and the like. Thank you.
Imagine…Life on a Chain
Episode Fourteen: The Rescue Center
Strangely Quiet World
Imagine strained to see out the back window of the van as they exited the neighborhood and cruised up the ramp to the highway. Although the ladies were still talking excitedly, the dog could tell there was something different, something off about the world around him. The smell he’d noticed just days ago lingered in the air as they traveled, its scent ebbing and flowing in the occasional whiff from passing vehicles.
He didn’t smell it on Melody, Becky, or Evie, but it was out there: it wasn’t just Rudy Prince who bore the strange yet familiar odor.
“Well, I feel bad for the guy who died,” Becky said, “but he sure treated this poor dog terribly. So I’m feeling more happy than sad, I guess.”
“Same,” agreed Melody. “As this virus spreads, we may end up with more rescue work than we can handle, but we also have to worry about our own health, too, at a time like this. We can’t risk making each other sick while we’re out in the field.”
A silence descended on the car, as the women somberly considered the future of the organization and work they loved so dearly. While life had always been unpredictable, the pandemic had turned everyday living on its head, and it was hard to know what changes the next day could or would bring.
“For today let’s just take care of the dog in front of us, I guess,” Evie said. “Tomorrow will work itself out, and we’ll continue to care for these guys to the best of our abilities.”
The Look of Freedom
Before long the van pulled into a driveway and Melody buzzed the gate open, continued to a small lot, and parked the vehicle. Imagine strained his ears, hearing the barking of other dogs coming from inside a large, white building to his right. He began to shake, whether from fear or anticipation he couldn’t tell. “Maybe a little of both,” he reasoned, as a general anxiety gripped him and he wondered what he would have to face next.
Becky swung the back door open and smiled at her new friend, speaking in soft, light tones. “Well, Pup, are you ready for your Freedom Run? You’re not going to believe this place! I hope you brought your running shoes, ladies! I think he’s gonna be a hard one to keep up with.”
“Keep him in there a minute while I get into position,” Melody called over her shoulder as she raced for another gate. “I want to get a live feed going for our supporters to see his first taste of REAL freedom!”
Becky and Evie jumped up and down with excitement, waiting for the go-ahead from Melody. “This is totally my favorite part,” exclaimed Becky, and Evie nodded.
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, I LOVE getting the dogs off the chains, but watching them RUN for the first time? Priceless.”
Finally, the crate door was opened, Becky grabbed Imagine’s leash, and he jumped to the ground, happy to be anywhere but the backyard he’d just left. She rushed him to where Melody waited, phone camera in hand, to document the event.
“OK, now, bring him in and shut the gate. Then, just remove his leash, and let him go, go, go for the first time in who-knows-how-long!” Melody instructed.
Once safely inside the second gate, Becky tossed the dog another treat, showed him she had more in her hand, then she unclipped his leash and took off running. Imagine stood stock still for a moment, not understanding what was happening or that he too was free to run.
Evie laughed. “Well, that was anticlimactic! Come on, boy, let’s GO!” She began to race across the field after Becky, looking over her shoulder at the dog as she ran.
“Go?” he puzzled. He knew what that meant. “Go?”
Wait. He could really just RUN, like right now?
With nothing holding him back?
Becky yelled from a distance. “Come here, boy! Come to me! I have more treats!”
Go? Treats? That was all the invitation Imagine needed!
He jumped like the starting gun had gone off at a track event and took off like a shot, all thoughts of aching bones and withering muscles soon forgotten. He felt like a puppy again! He passed Evie before she’d even reached the spot where Becky stood and threw himself into his new friend, knocking her off her feet and licking her face as she rolled on the ground and laughed, the treats dropping from her hand.
Snacks devoured and friend tormented, Imagine looked across the field and spotted a squirrel near the far fence line. “You’d better run, Mr. Squirrel! I’m free now and I’m headin’ your way!”
The adrenaline pumped through long-dormant muscles as he raced after the squirrel, completely unbothered when the squirrel fled up a nearby tree, scolding his pursuer from the safety of its branches.
He spun, spotted Melody, and—still feeling his oats—rushed toward the woman who now hunkered down and filmed his antics from afar.
“Watch out, Melody,” Becky yelled. “He’s full of himself, and he’s coming to you!” Melody giggled as she filmed their new rescue plowing into the camera and knocking both her and her happy ending video to the ground.
“Now THAT’s what I call a Freedom Run,” Melody picked up her phone and smiled into the camera, holding the now-exhausted pup close and wrapping up her live feed. “Stay tuned, everyone, as we follow our new guy to his happily ever after…which he, and every other dog, deserves!”
Next Episode: Is That a BALL?
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.