Read FREE! Episode 16 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. Catching the Smell.

I’m running late tonight since I had to be out much of the day, so without further ado let’s get right to our tale. Our doggie friend Imagine is now safe at the rescue facility, but an unexpected twist happens, taking him again back to memories of his first home.

This is a free read, in episodes, and so if you haven’t yet joined us, start here at Episode One to catch up. Welcome, and enjoy the read.

Imagine…Life on a Chain

Episode Sixteen: Catching the Smell

Life’s Better with a Ball

Imagine stretched, sleep still blanketing him in a dream where angels gave him a brand-new ball and he played for hours. He smiled, absently noting a feeling of warmth, coziness even. He felt neither hunger nor thirst, and he wasn’t itchy, either.

The sensations were so alien to him that he jolted awake and jumped to his feet, worried he’d let his guard down and was about to be attacked or suffer some other atrocity.

Heart pounding, he back into the corner of his suite—eyes seeking out the danger he knew must be lurking—for a moment forgetting where he was and that he was no longer trapped in that hell of a backyard. 

Finally, bits and pieces of all that had taken place yesterday seeped through the cracks of his panicked brain and his heart began to slow, his system to calm. He glanced toward his doggie bed and spotted his new ball, proof that his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him.

He was really rescued . . . for real this time, right?

He’d been so tired last night he hadn’t taken much note of what they’d called his “bedroom,” but in the dim light of early morning he could see that it was similar to the bedroom he used to share with Mom and Dad and Dream, only much smaller. He’d been zonked out on a large, raised kuranda bed outfitted with a comfy cushion, and in the other corner stood a dog station with water and food bowls. Hey, there was even water in his dish already!

Excited to have water—whenever he wanted?—he trotted over and took giant gulps, remembering the many days he’d gone without. He even drank more than he needed . . . just in case.

Thirst more than slaked, he sat back on his haunches, noting the walls were painted a pleasant, warm shade, and there were pictures, too—just like a real bedroom.

Wow, these folks go all out, he thought to himself, impressed.

Feeling an urge to “go,” he was relieved to note a doggie door at the far end of the little room. Now that he had a place to call his own again, his housetraining came back full force, and he was reluctant to defile his living area with his own excrement.

Wary, he stalked his way to the doggie door and tentatively stuck his snout through the bottom, pushing until he could see what lay beyond. It wasn’t a big backyard like his old home, but he had his own little area with grass and another kuranda bed in case he preferred to get some fresh air.

Satisfied it was safe for him to explore, he pushed his way through the door and onto the small concrete patio, memories of Dream following right behind him. The thoughts were bittersweet and he missed her now more than ever, but gaining his freedom helped him cherish the memories too.

He did his business, and—satisfied with the inspection of his new digs—made his way back inside. He heard the other dogs awakening, and he wondered what the day would bring. I just hope it’s good, he sighed, content to mouth his ball and curl up again on his bed, relishing a safety he hadn’t experienced in such a very long time.

Pack Walk

Soon the rescue came fully awake and alive, the sounds of dogs barking as they raced through their doggie doors and “held discussions” with their neighbors opening his eyes wide and causing his heart to race. He heard human voices too, which put him at ease and erased the fears that he’d been abandoned here in this place.

It will all be ok, he told himself. It was his new mantra.

It wasn’t long before Evie opened his door. “Hey, you! We really gotta choose a name for you today, don’t we? How was your first night? I heard you loved your ball, and I see you still have it,” she smiled at the ball firmly ensconced in his jowls. He wagged his tail, his stance telling her there was no way he was giving up his prize. “I brought you breakfast, and you’ll go on the next pack walk with Jay. Then we’ll try to get ahold of the vet again. They were supposed to call back yesterday, but I guess they were too busy. Eat up, sweetie. Today’s gonna be a great day!”

After she left, he tucked his ball into the corner of his doggie bed (for safekeeping!) and raced to the food bowl, again filling himself with the delicious fare the center carried for their rescued pups. Then, hearing commotion outside, he pushed through the doggie door, ball in mouth, and trotted out. Jay had opened the gate at the back of his yard and grinned at him.

“There you are, boy! Today’s something to celebrate. It’s your first pack walk . . . but don’t worry, you’re going to be with the same dogs you met last night, so there’s nothing to fear. You ready? Yes, bring your ball!”

Jay held the gate open for Imagine and the dog dashed by, confident in his understanding of the word “walk” and overjoyed to move his body again. Yes, he was a little sore from yesterday’s run, but it was the good kind of sore, and he’d take it any day over the stagnation of life on a chain.

The other dogs, all mild-mannered and kindly, greeted him like he’d always been part of the pack, and together they made their way to the back field and the eight fenced acres. Jay skirted the perimeter of the fence, encouraging the dogs to run with him, and all but the oldest dashed ahead, glee on their faces as they raced, played, and tumbled with their doggie friends. After one loop Jay slowed and, stooping to Imagine’s level, asked, “Hey, boy, can I have the ball? I’ll throw it for you!”

A little wary at losing the one thing he’d just regained, the dog obediently dropped the ball, looking expectantly at Jay. Jay scooped it up and whooped, “Go get it, boy!” as he gave it a heave, tossing it toward the middle of the field.

Imagine stopped only long enough for a happy “Woof!” and a spin before he raced headlong across the field after his ball, quickly outpacing the others who were not used to competing with a dog so driven.

He rushed back to Jay with his treasure, confident now that they were on the same page and excited for more. Jay grinned and extended his arm to throw it as far as he could, knowing he was dealing with a true ball afficionado who wouldn’t hesitate to go the distance.

After fifteen minutes of play both Jay and Imagine were bushed. “OK, let’s head in, pups,” Jay called. “Great job today everyone! I hope you’re all tired and ready for our group training, because it’s coming up next.”

What’s In a Name?

When Melody arrived at the center she called Evie and Becky into her office, asking them to bring the new pup with them.

“Good morning, ladies . . . and gent,” she laughed, including Imagine in her greeting. “Let’s discuss where we are with our new guy here. We have the signed relinquishment forms, we’ve gotten him bathed, and we’ve treated his parasites. I just spoke to the vet, and unfortunately for us they are booked up all this week. With this pandemic, they’ve been low on staff and inundated with requests for vet care. They were apologetic, but we’ll get him in next Monday at 9:00 a.m.”

“Sounds good,” Becky said, crossing her legs while she absent-mindedly patted the dog sitting quietly next to her. “Do you guys remember Star, the mom and pups I fostered five years ago? This guy reminds me of her. I don’t know for sure what her pups grew up to look like, but I remember about three years ago one of them got lost. It was super sad. His mom, I believe her name was Val, died of cancer, and he slipped out the back gate in all the chaos when the ambulance arrived.

“So his dad, Dennis, lost both his wife and one of their beloved dogs on the same day. They blanketed the town with flyers and called us and the shelter for assistance, but he was never found, to my knowledge. You don’t suppose this could be him, do you?”

Evie frowned. “I don’t know; he was awfully far away, wasn’t he? How would he get over an hour from here without anyone noticing? Seems like a long shot, but worth checking his microchip, I suppose. Too bad our reader is on the blink. When are they sending us a new one, Mel?”

“It’s supposedly already been mailed, I got an email about it yesterday,” Melody replied. “If it gets here before the vet visit we can check him ourselves; if not we can get him checked at their office. I’d prefer not to call Dennis until we know for sure. We wouldn’t want to get his hopes up only to break his heart again.”

“Agreed,” Becky said. “I was thinking, though, the missing pup’s name was Imagine; what if we called this guy Imagine, in his honor? He needs a name, and he’s a beautiful boy. I think it would suit him.”

Upon hearing the word “Imagine,” the dog stood and wagged his tail. “Look!” Evie exclaimed. “I think he knows that name! You don’t really think it’s him, do you? Well, stranger things have happened. I vote for Imagine, too, then. Is it ok if we call you Imagine, boy?”

Imagine’s ears perked, his tail thumped against the chair, and he nuzzled her hand in response.

“It’s settled then,” Melody declared. “Imagine it is. And if he turns out to be the missing pup from three years ago? We’ll have a heck of a sad-and-then-happy story to share with our supporters. And one overjoyed former adopter! Come here, Imagine,” she called, holding out her hand as she called the dog over to her.

Imagine grinned and started eagerly toward her, but as he approached the organization’s leader he caught the faintest whiff of a now-familiar odor. Oh, no, he thought. Not her too! I have to warn her! She can’t go down like that creep Prince.

He was all too aware that his attempts at warning hadn’t worked well with Mom, but since he couldn’t talk he didn’t know any other way to communicate to Melody that she was sick. He walked around her desk, poked her with his nose, and sat, staring at her intently.

“Aw, what a good boy you are,” she exclaimed, patting his head. “I love you too.”

Frustrated, he tapped her again, willing her to get the message he was trying to send. But she only scratched his chin and turned back to her desk and her paperwork. Feeling ignored, he forlornly picked up his ball, went to the corner of the room, and curled up on a dog bed.

I’ll keep trying this time, he vowed to himself, although he felt at a loss as to how to make her understand.

I have to find a way to keep these nice people safe.

Next Episode: They All Come Tumbling Down

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.

2 thoughts on “Read FREE! Episode 16 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. Catching the Smell.

  1. Pingback: Read FREE! Episode 15 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. Is That a BALL? | Tamira Thayne's "Untethered"

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