Welcome to lovely February, month of Valentines and proposals, apparently. In checking my new handy calendar of all things holiday, today, February 8th, is ostensibly Proposal Day.
I, for one, propose that we all stay in bed all day, how’s that for a proposal we can all get behind? Fine, we’ll do it tomorrow instead, since we’re too late to commence the plan today. True confession, I may have started without you yesterday…but today I’m back on the straight and narrow and providing you with another episode of Imagine: Life on a Chain.
Interestingly enough, the hubby actually did propose to me today, having no foreknowledge that today was Proposal Day. Eerie! He bought us new wedding bands in the trendy style of matchy-match that were supposedly created from meteorites, and they came in today. So he reproposed to the woman who’s made him crazy for the last thirteen years (God love him), while I stood in the kitchen in my sweats. When I asked why he didn’t save them for Valentine’s Day, he promptly asked for the ring back.
But I said, “No givey-backy’s, Man. It’s all mine now!”
Now, let’s talk about Imagine. His chainer has succumbed to the virus, flat out in his backyard. What will become of Imagine now? If you need to catch up, here’s Episode One. Start there, and click at the bottom of each episode to bring you to the next. Happy Reading!
Imagine…Life on a Chain
Episode Twelve: Rescued…for Real this Time?
The dog sighed and laid his head on his paws. He felt no sadness, only relief. And yes, fear…because as bad as the Prince of Darkness was, the truth was that this awful man had been his only source of food and water.
Would anyone come for him, or would he die here on this chain?
The thought engendered anxiety, but a seed of HOPE had begun to take root, too.
He was struck anew by the fact that he was not in control of his own life. His fate was intertwined with that of the humans surrounding him, his destiny only as good or bad as they allowed.
A somber realization, to be sure.
He felt no need to bark, no need to draw attention to the unmoving figure face down between him and the house. It was way too late for Prince.
An hour passed before the neighbor lady again poked her head out her back door; the dog was glad for her nosiness, lifting his head to see what would happen next. “AHHHHHHH!” she screamed. “ELMERRRR! That idiot next door is dead or sumpin’. Don’t go out there! Call 9-1-1. He probably has the sickness. Lord, I hope you didn’t already bring it back from his place with ya’.”
Elmer shoved past her to see for himself, but never left the doorway. “Goddammit, Helen! You made me go over there. Now we’re probably gonna die from that gawdawful virus, too!”
Soon the dog heard the sound of sirens and knew his backyard was the destination. The noise was so shrill it felt like a drill into his brain, and it raised all the repressed fears and longing for his mom, his once safe home, and the family he’d loved and lost.
Within minutes three humans in full protective gear raced into the backyard with a stretcher and medical kit. It didn’t take long for them to ascertain what the dog already knew: the man was gone. Their movements slowed. There was no rush now.
They took their time loading Prince onto the stretcher and covering him up, one of them taking notes while the other two worked. As they turned to carry his body back to the waiting ambulance, Elmer yelled from the safety of his yard next door. “Hey, is he dead?”
“Yes, sir,” the medic called back. “Unfortunately, we were too late for this man. Do you know if there’s anyone else living in the home we can speak to?”
“Nah, he lived alone. But he’s got this here dog left out back. What’s to be done wit’ him?”
The medic turned and Magnum strained toward him, willing the chain to release him from its grasp. “There’s a group about an hour away that does chained dog rescue, Freedom Chaser. Have you heard of them?”
“Well, look them up and give them a call. Or take him to the local shelter if this guy has no family. By the way, do you know his name?”
“He called ’im Magnum.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the medic. “I was talking about the deceased, sir. Not the dog.”
“Ah,” Elmer chuckled, the sound out of sync with the darkness of the occasion. “Believe me. That dog is a whole sight better’n the man ever was. His name was Prince, but he weren’t no prince. Rudy Prince.”
“Thank you. Someone from the coroner’s office will be out tomorrow. Goodnight, sir.”
Elmer yelled as the three retreated with the body. “So, no help for the dog then? This is my problem now, eh?”
There was no answer.
A Full Belly
The next morning Helen stuck her head out the door and glared at Magnum. “I guess you’re my cross to bear now, dog. I don’t even want to go in that jackal’s house to get your dogfood. I’ll probably get the ’rona and die if I do. Just hold on. Elmer’ll be out in a minute.”
The dog stood and wagged his tail slowly…wistfully. At least she didn’t sound too mean this morning. Plus, he usually got nothing this early…no food, no water, no acknowledgement of his status as a living being.
He was mostly invisible.
Which made her attention already a step above his normal day.
The door swung open again and Elmer grumped his way through the two yards and over to the dog, hands full. Magnum eagerly picked up his battered dish and met the man at the edge of his territory. “Where’s your water bowl?” Elmer asked, looking around in confusion. “You only got one dish? What a loser that guy was,” he snorted.
Elmer poured water from a gallon jug into the dog’s dish and set the plastic bowl of leftovers beside it. He peered over his shoulder to make sure Helen wasn’t watching, knowing he’d get an earful about letting the dog eat from her good plastic. “Go ahead, dog. Eat up…I’ll find you another old bowl come dinnertime.”
The dog dug in, not believing his luck. Food! In the morning! Human food at that…so much better than the generic nuggets he normally choked down.
Elmer watched him gobble the offerings and clucked his tongue. “Poor old guy. I’ll go call that rescue group for ya’. Hopefully they’ll have room and you can go find yourself a better life than this wretched one. See ya’ later, boy.” Elmer reached out and ruffled the dog’s fur before leaving, the closest thing to a petting Magnum had received since the day he lost his mom.
He’d cry if he could. A quiet whine escaped his throat. At least my belly’s full, for once. And, I still have water left over for later.
Alreadythis day was better than the ones that came before.
That night Elmer—good to his word—brought another bowl (Food! Again! Twice in one Day?) and some more water. The man wasn’t grumpy this time; in fact, he was smiling. He could barely contain his excitement. “Guess what, Magnum! There’s a rescue group coming for ya’! I talked to someone today and told them about Prince dyin’, and they’re sending someone out for ya’ tomorrow. Now the missus and I don’t have to witness your sufferin’ anymore, and you can git yourself the life you deserve. I can’t wait!” He giggled, sounding more like a teen girl than the grumpy old man he normally showed the world.
The dog didn’t understand a word Elmer said, but he caught the air of elation and began to get excited, too. Would he be free? Soon? Today?
In fact, it would be another 24 hours before someone other than Elmer made their way to the backyard where the dog was contained.
Magnum lay on his side sunning himself, belly once again full (unbelievable!), when he heard women’s voices and a knock on the front door. With their query unanswered, the group made their way to the backyard; the dog stood warily to his feet, chain clanking.
Elmer and Helen both raced outside, tripping over themselves to tell the ladies all about that “poor dog over there.”
The “poor dog” wagged his tail.
Would today be the day?
Next Episode: Starting 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.