Read FREE! Episode 17 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. They All Come Tumbling Down

Happy Tuesday. I supposed it must be Taco Tuesday—and I’m not one to turn down a good bean taco—but today is also National Peanut Lovers Day according to my trusty calendar. Both my dog and I are a bit crazy for peanut butter, and I’m pretty sure he’d happily eat the whole jar if I let him.

It’s also National Celery Month, so lots of meat-free choices for my animal-loving friends this month. Might I suggest a little peanut butter with your celery stalk? You’re welcome.

On to this week’s Imagine episode. Our pup has landed safely at the rescue center, but now his particular talent is coming back into play with covid spreading. The problem is, can he make the humans understand? Read on to find out! If you need to catch up, start here at Episode One and just click the links at the bottom of the post to find yourself at the next episode. Happy Reading.

Imagine…Life on a Chain

Episode Seventeen: They All Come Tumbling Down

The Sickness is Here

The next morning Melody wasn’t at the center, and the rest of the staff was speaking in hushed, solemn tones.

“She was tested last night and is still waiting on the results,” Becky told Evie and Jay. “She’s coughing and in quarantine now; she called to say she’s sorry, she hopes she didn’t infect anyone else. We’ve gotta find a way to get ahold of some masks! I know they’re mostly reserved for health care settings at this time, but we have to care for these dogs every day. We can’t afford to have everyone sick at once.”

The others nodded in agreement, and then Evie remembered something. “Hey, I saw a story on the local news last night about masks starting to become available in stores. Why don’t I run out and try to track some down? They would at least provide staff protection while they’re at work.”

After she’d gone, Jay and Becky split up the daily chores between themselves and two others and got to work. They were quiet, subdued, with thoughts of the virus, Melody’s health, and their own fears taking a toll. The atmosphere at the center was completely different from the happiness of yesterday, and Imagine picked up on it immediately.

He noted Melody’s absence, chastising himself for failing to get through to her. I knew she had the sickness. Why couldn’t I make her understand? He was so frustrated with his inability to communicate in a way that the humans could relate to.

His pack walk was different this morning too. Jay paced the field instead of running and encouraging the dogs to chase after him, and he didn’t laugh or talk to his furry charges, either. He half-heartedly threw the ball for Imagine a few times, but yesterday’s enthusiasm was gone.

Imagine felt just as worried as the staff did, and he explained to his new doggie friends what was going on. “There’s a bad illness out there, and I smelled it on Melody yesterday. Now she’s not here today, and everyone else is upset and afraid. That’s what you’re sensing, and that’s why staff is so quiet today.”

“Ah,” said Willow, a shy black lab who was part of Imagine’s group. “That makes sense. How are you sniffing out this sickness and none of us have noticed it?”

“Well, my old Mom got sick and died, and this smell is very similar. Some dogs must have a keener nose when it comes to illness, is all I can figure. My sister Dream couldn’t smell it until it got really bad, either,” Imagine explained.

“But I can catch a whiff of it early on,” he continued. “The problem is, I’m not having an easy time letting the humans know. I touch them with my nose and then sit back and look at them—trying to communicate the problem—but they just ignore me. Or worse, they think I’m telling them I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Hmm,” Willow thought for a minute. “Wait a second . . . what if you let us know when someone has the scent, and we ALL do the same thing? If we ALL touch them with our noses . . . surely they would understand something is wrong then?”

“Hey, that’s an awesome idea, Willow!” Imagine got excited now. “I’ll bet that would work! They might think one dog is just being weird, but if everyone does the same thing, sooner or later they have to figure it out. You’re a genius!”

Willow looked down, embarrassed and pleased by his praise. Her life on the chain hadn’t been easy either, and it was hard for her to trust others enough to speak her mind about anything.

Imagine went to work immediately, teaching the other four dogs to react in the same way he did upon his signal. Little did the new friends know just how quickly they would be called upon to test their plan. . . .

There Goes Jay

There was no group training today, as staff was spread thin with both Melody and Evie away from the center. Evie called around noon to say she had a lead on some masks, but she was still searching and she hoped to be back (and successful!) by late afternoon.

Imagine played ball by himself for a bit, but mostly the dogs lounged on the kuranda beds in their playroom, talking quietly amongst themselves. They did get out for another quick potty break and some treats in the early afternoon; when Jay slipped back in the door behind Willow, Imagine followed, taking a discreet sniff.  He came to a full stop. Sniffed again. Was it?

Yes, he was sure. It was just a whiff of the odor, but a whiff was all he needed. Jay has it! Imagine felt sick to his stomach. What if they all died, like Prince did? He’d just found these nice people, he couldn’t lose them already!

He shook himself to get ahold of his runaway emotions, then gave the agreed-upon alarm call—a quick, sharp, emergency yip—to let the rest of the dogs know he’d smelled the sickness. Jay turned to see if someone was hurt, only to find Imagine staring at him, intently and deliberately. Jay looked about in confusion, wondering what he’d missed with the dogs.

Imagine walked the couple steps to Jay, poked him with his nose, and sat on his haunches in front of him. Willow followed suit, prodding the man with her snout and then stepping back to sit next to Imagine. The remaining three pups did the same, and soon a line of five dogs stared intently at Jay.

“What the HECK!” Jay yelped, pulling out a walkie talkie to call for backup. “Hey, Beck, you around? I’ve got a situation in Training Room A. Could you come in here please?”

Becky raced into the room—afraid a fight had broken out—but instead she was faced with a line of dogs sitting calmly and watching Jay. Their eyes flickered to her and then back to Jay again, holding his gaze.

“Um, what is going on here?” Jay asked Becky. “They just did this when we came back inside from the yard. First each of them poked me with their noses, and then they all sat in a line like that. I’m seriously freaked, Becky,” he told her, backing away.

Becky too kept her distance, fear of the illness topmost in her mind. “You know, Imagine did that to Melody yesterday and she thought he was just being sweet. But if they’re all doing it? Seems to me their trying to tell us something. And now Melody is sick. Are you feeling well, Jay?”

Jay turned toward her, eyes wide. “As a matter of fact, I do have a sore throat today. I didn’t want to mention it, because I knew we were short-handed and you needed me. Oh, God, what if I have it too?” He stared, stricken, backing up and falling into a chair at the edge of the room. “Stay away, Becky. Maybe Imagine’s onto something, and he’s got the other dogs doing it too? I know it seems far-fetched, but weirder things have happened.”

“Well, we can’t dispute what our own eyes are telling us. Why don’t you leave and go get tested. I can handle the rest of the workload for today, and hopefully Evie will be back with masks soon for all of us. Just let us know what you find out.”

Jay gathered his things and left, shaking his head and giving one last wild-eyed look at Imagine and the other dogs. “It worked!” Imagine told the others, elated. “At least they believe there’s a chance we’re onto something—enough to send Jay to get help. Thank you all so much! I know without you they would have just ignored me again. There is strength in numbers!”

Willow gave him a quick nose prod of her own. “We’re happy you’re here. Because of you, maybe now we can give back to these humans who’ve been so kind to us.”

Now it was Imagine’s turn to feel embarrassed—and pleased, too.

Masks and a Call for Volunteers

Evie was feeling triumphant as she walked back into the center, a pack of 100 masks gripped tightly in her hands. They felt like a lifeline in a very tenuous situation, and it was all she had to cling to right now. She called an emergency meeting with the three remaining staff members—asking everyone to keep their distance from one another—as she updated them on Melody and Jay.

“We now have two people out sick and waiting for test results. As you know, this is a very scary situation for us here at the center because our dogs rely on us every single day. If we all become ill, who will care for our animals? I’ve been able to secure 100 masks, and I will ask you all to wear them while you’re at work. If you’re feeling ill, let me, Becky, or Melody know immediately, and go get tested.

“I’m sure you’re feeling afraid, as am I. I will put out a call for volunteers to come in starting tomorrow to help us through this rough patch. I will also put out a call for emergency adopters or foster homes, as many folks are off work right now and can care for a dog. Any questions?”

Ben, a young guy who’d only been working at the center for two months, raised his hand. “I hate to tell you, Evie, but I’m feeling sick, too. I’ve been sucking down cough drops all day and trying to stay away from everyone. I didn’t want to let you all down, but it’s probably worse if I’m coming to work and making others sick. I better go get tested, too.”

Evie and Becky looked at one another, the despair obvious in their eyes. Becky said, “Ben, can you walk over to our newest rescue dog, Imagine? He’s the black and tan one there. Yes, that’s him. Just go up to him and hold your hand out for him to scent.”

Ben was confused but did as she asked. Imagine sniffed his hand for a long moment and then gave a sharp yip. He prodded Ben in the leg and sat back on his haunches, gazing at the young man expectantly. He was followed first by Willow and then the other three by turn, the ritual once again ending with five dogs staring at the young man.

Ben stumbled back, saying, “Whoa! What’s goin’ on? Why’re they doing that?”

“Yes, that’s what it is,” Becky said, awe in her voice. “Imagine’s able to scent the virus. This is the third person he’s alerted to it, and he’s even trained the others to follow his lead. I’ve gotta call Melody. Ben, go on home and get tested, please. Evie, we’ve gotta send out that plea for emergency volunteers, NOW. I suspect within the next few days we will all be going down, and these dogs need people to care for them.”

She walked over to Imagine, hunkering down before him. “You’re amazing, pup. You know that, right? You’re simply amazing. We’ll get through this somehow . . . with your help.”

Imagine couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. Finally, finally, someone understood! And he could help. Although the situation was dire, at least now he could play a part.

He wasn’t worthless like Rudy Prince told him every day. No, he wasn’t worthless.

Not anymore.

Next Episode: A Special Volunteer

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 17 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. They All Come Tumbling Down

  1. Pingback: Read FREE! Episode 16 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. Catching the Smell. | Tamira Thayne's "Untethered"

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