Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Cold

Posted: July 5, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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cold husky

Today’s post is inspired by the word “cold,” which first led me to write this haiku:

I long for the days
When I curled under blankets
To keep myself warm

and then reminded me of one of the saddest scenes I ever read. I mention it farther down.

Inside the closet of his home office, Jack pulled his dog Whitey close to him, under a layer of three blankets and behind a wall of clothes and crumpled paper. The husky normally would have wagged his tail, but he knew how serious things were, too. The winter storm hadn’t let up in five days. The city had lost power on the second day. Jack wasn’t sure, but he thought it was getting colder.

“Let’s listen to the radio. Might cheer us up, huh?” Jack said. He wound a hand-cranked emergency unit. Jack had batteries in the house, but he wanted to save them in case he needed them. The wind whistled white knives outside. Jack clicked the radio on.

“…encouraged to remain in your homes. Do not try to visit neighbors or relatives if it involves driving. You will not get through. The roads are impassible. If you are walking, obviously, wear boots and multiple layers of appropriate clothing and get indoors again as soon as possible…”

Jack changed channels. The other stations were playing the same thing. “Tell us something we don’t know, right?” He turned the volume down. “Maybe they’ll play music soon.” He scratched Whitey between his ears. The dog huddled closer. No dummy there. Jack felt a thin brush of a draft on his face. He pucked his lips to exhale, and blew a thin, ghostly breath.

The radio finally switched to music. The DJ put on “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett. Jack sang along. He hoped he would sleep well tonight. The closet was the warmest space in the house. Fear and cold had kept him from sleeping well the past two nights. Even underneath all the layers, he worried about freezing to death.

Jack remembered the scene in the story “To Build a Fire,” where the main character thought about killing his dog to stay alive. He and Whitey had been friends for three years. Whitey knew how to sit and roll over. He understood “come,” and he understood “stay” when he wanted to. He mooched for food and was always in the way. Jack hugged him. “You and me, bud. We’re going through this together, whether we’re building a snowman in the yard or if FEMA finds us turned into a pair of popsicles.” Whitey lifted his head. He looked at Jack, blue eyes questioning. “Don’t mind me. Lay back down.” He rubbed between Whitey’s ears again and the dog lay back down.

Tomorrow he would have cold canned soup for breakfast. Whitey would have kibble. They would both drink slushy ice water. Jack couldn’t wait for spring, when he would brush off Whitey’s winter coat and they could throw the disc around in the park again.

Photo credit: “Kangos 2013 – Huskies” by gabri_micha at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

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Bully Brother

Posted: October 12, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , , ,

broken vaseJack and Finn stood around the shattered pieces of their mother’s favorite Oriental vase. Finn’s soccer ball was in the middle of them. Jack was six. To him, the world was coming to an end. His chest pumped up and down as he tried not to cry. Finn was nine. He didn’t move. Jack could tell Finn was thinking. Jack couldn’t thinking of anything at all, other than their mother’s hand paddling his behind.

“Stupid,” Finn said. His freckled face looked down at Jack’s. He folded his arms like an adult.

“You’re the one who kicked it!” Jack said.

“Don’t you blame this on me. You wanted to play in the house.”

Jack felt guilty. Finn was older. Was he right? He protested, “I wanted to play video games. You got out the soccer ball.”

“If you’d blocked it like you’re supposed to this wouldn’t have happened.”

“I blocked it ten times.”

Finn stood over him. “You blocked it into the vase.”

Jack gulped. No. No! He stood up to him. His feet crunched on broken pottery. He wanted to cry. “You got mad and you booted it.”

Finn shook. “What did you say?”

Jack was afraid his brother would hit him. Now he shook. “I…”

Finn grabbed his shirt. “Well?”

“Nothing,” Jack said quickly.

Finn let go of him. “You’d better clean this up before Mom gets home. I’m going out.”

Jack stood in the middle of the broken vase, staring at it. He wanted to yell at Finn. If words were enough they would have thrown Finn against the walls. He would have been stronger than anybody. But he wasn’t. He felt small. When the door slammed, Jack started crying. He held most of it in.

Jack cleaned up every piece of the vase he could find. He was sad to see it go. It was the first thing in the house that he’d gotten into his head that he wasn’t supposed to touch. He appreciated how pretty it was, from far, far away. Now it was gone, and Mom was going to be mad, and everyone would think it was his fault. Jack couldn’t tell if they were right. A tiny voice in him disagreed. He didn’t want to listen to it right now.

He took the stupid ball and went outside to the back yard. His family had a small fountain with a koi pond. Jack went to the fountain and threw in a penny. He wished he were bigger.

The neighbor’s German shepherd came over, from the other side of their yard’s fence. “Hi, Max,” Jack said. He kicked the ball against the fence, over and over again. Max barked and chased the ball. He was glad to be playing, even if he couldn’t get to the ball. Kick. Jack wished life was more fair. Kick! He wished his brother would get what was coming to him. Kick!!!

The ball sailed over the fence, into the Max’s yard. The dog caught the ball on the fly and popped. It. He stood up on the fence, wagging his tail, offering the ball back to him.

Jack took the ball back. He scratched Max behind the ears. “Good dog,” he said.

Dogs are People, Too

Posted: October 6, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay
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Recent research suggests that dolphins and other animals have intelligence sophisticated enough that they should be considered “non-human persons.” According to this article in the New York Times, we can add dogs to the list.

The House Guest

Posted: August 16, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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dogMy friend JD showed up with an SUV stuffed to the ceiling with every possession he still owned. He was cutting loose, simplifying, and heading up north to live in a cabin near Vancouver.

“A cabin with wifi and a hot tub. I’m not a barbarian,” JD said. We shook hands and exchanged a quick hug.

A big, clumsy bag with short handles and a wide mouth started falling off his shoulder. JD stopped to fix it. “What’s with the bag?”

“It sucks, doesn’t it? I ran out of good bags. This one stays with me.”

“What’s in it?”

“Dog toys, magazines, snacks, and a road map. I never trust my GPS completely.”

“Did you say dog toys?”

“Yeah. I have a dog. See?”

A full-grown, black as a shadow German shepherd was watching us patiently from the back seat of his car. I’d never seen a dog look so calm. I stared into the Zen eyes of a serial killer. He probably moved quick as a snake. All I could think about were his fangs.

“You know I’m scared of dogs.”

“Yeah. That’s why I didn’t tell you. That’s what I brought the bag out for.” JD reached into the bag and took out a toy shaped like a pink and green dumbbell. “Play with him. You’ll feel better.” He squeezed it a few times and it squeaked.

The dog jumped up and started barking. I took a step away from the car. “Whoa. Hey. Calm him down.”

“Look at that tail. Do you think he’d hurt you?”

“I’m sure he’s a good dog. Give me a break already.”

“Time for you to get over your fear!” JD shoved the toy into my hands with one hand and released the hatch on his car with the other. A big black blur lunged at me. I wanted to let go of the toy but I was too damned scared. Half of me wanted to throw it away. The other half held on for dear life in case I had to use it was a weapon.

Fangs. Two dozen bone mini daggers heading toward me, shaped like a smile. I screamed. JD laughed.

The dog clamped his mouth around the pink end of the dumbbell and shook it. I still couldn’t let go. The dog growled and whipped his whole body, LEFT RIGHT LEFT . “He’s growling!” I shrieked.

“That means he’s having fun! You’re doing great. See his tail?”

It wagged too fast for me to see. The dog crouched and whipped his body again, RIGHT LEFT RIGHT. He almost threw me across the lawn. “Make him stop!”

JD laughed again. “Nobody’s asked me that before. I don’t know how to make him do that.”

The dog whipped his body again, LEFT RIGHT and he threw me clear. I wound up going face first into the fish pond in front of our house. The last thing I saw before everything went black: I was face to face with a koi that looked more scared than I was. My lungs filled with fishy water. I found the bottom the hard way. My hands slipped as I tried to get up.

My belt tugged backward. I was pulled out of the water, and rolled over to look at my savior: a very concerned-looking black dog. The dog sat down next to me, head low, tail wagging low.

“You all right, buddy?” JD asked.

I coughed. I tasted algae. Yuck. “Yeah, I’m all right.” I said to the dog, “Well, you saved me life. I guess you can stay in the house.”

“Awesome!”

I said to JD, “You can sleep in the yard.”

Where Were They?

Posted: July 31, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
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'Stare' by Mikko LagerstedtWhere were they?

Jack lay on the floor of the rug by the door. They’d been gone for hours. Why did they have to go without him? He wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t come back. Not really. So far, they always had. When he was little he’d been afraid they would never come back again, not ever. That had been more than he could bear.

He’d lain there while they got ready to go. They had it down to a system. Whenever they went out at night, they started talking in more urgent voices around 3:00. The kids had to get home or they had to finish what they were doing. Some of them took showers or baths. Sometimes Jack got lucky and it meant they were going over to the grandparents’ house, with their old, creaky house and the different smells and corners to check out. When they started putting on different clothes or makeup, that was the giveaway. That meant they were going out to dinner, the movies, or something else fancy. No dogs allowed.

Jack had a system, too. As soon as they started showering or changing clothes, he lay in the middle of the first floor where they could see him. Usually someone would walk by and give him a scratch on the back. They told him what a good dog he was. He always liked that. He wanted to make sure they knew that he knew that something was up. He would watch they go back and forth. He would get ready to watch them go, take a quick nap, then guard the house for the rest of the night. If they took him along, it was best thing ever!

They usually came back smelling like someplace with fancy food. Other times they smelled like popcorn and sugary drinks. Other times their shoes smelled like stale beer or cigarettes. Ugh.

Maybe they would come back with leftovers. Once they came back with doggie ice cream and biscuits like he’d never tasted before. He still remembered it: buffalo wing flavor for dogs. Jack licked his chops thinking about it.

But there were no leftovers, yet. Jack sighed. First they had to come back.

They sure had been gone a long time. He’d waited long enough that he started to feel that old fear that they wouldn’t come home. It scratched at the edge of his ear, a fly that he tried to shake away.

Jack’s ears lifted up. He thought he heard the car.

I once knew someone who had a gift with photography. She would take a friend’s picture, usually when they weren’t expecting it, and the picture was always the essence of who they were.

What is it about black and white photography that turns any moment into passionate art? Even a picture of a dog!

Tonight’s picture is called “Stare” by Mikko Lagerstedt.

Don’t Run

Posted: September 19, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
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Mr. Softee, the ice cream truck, turned the corner at the far end of the block. Shaun and Liz came running out of the house with quarters jingling in their pockets. “Ohhhh!” Shaun cried. “We’ll never catch up to it!”

Liz watched the truck vanish from sight. It was ninety degrees, and the first really hot day of a long summer. An ice cream cone would taste really good. “I know a shortcut. Come on.” She ran around the back side of the house, with Shaun running as fast as he could behind her. Liz was 8 and Shaun was 6, and she had longer legs.

“Where are we going, Lizzy?”

“He’s on his way around the block. If he stops at Parkwood Place, we can still catch up with him.” Liz hopped the fence into their neighbor’s yard.

She turned to help Shaun, but the nimble little chipmunk was almost there. “Aren’t we going to get in trouble?” he asked.

“Not if we keep moving. Come on!”

They ran across the Spratts’ yard, past the swimming pool where they had a splash party a few days ago. They hopped the next fence, and ran into the Maldonado yard. Mrs. Maldonado’s dog Sport barked at them. He ran over, jumping and wagging his tail. Sport loved playing with Shaun.

“What kind of ice cream do you want?” Liz asked. She grinned as she hopped over the next fence.

“A creamsicle! Hiya Sporty!” He stopped to pet Sport, then ran to keep up with his sister.

Liz could hear the truck turning down Parkwood Road, just on the other side of the next yard and the breezeway between the houses. She wasn’t sure if it was stopping. They had to hurry. If he saw them, he’d pull over no matter where he was. Liz hopped the next fence. Behind her, she could hear Shaun’s sneakers jingling the fence as he climbed over.

The last yard belonged to a new neighbor. Liz smiled as she saw a white-painted bench for picnicking, and a little flower garden off to the left, with the statue of a rabbit in a waistcoat decorating it.

“Almost there, kiddo!” she said. Liz was almost out of breath. “It’s creamin’ time!”

The growl made her stop so hard her shoe might have been nailed to the earth. Instinctively she reached for her little brother; Liz’s arm shot out behind her, and she caught Shaun by the chest before he ran past her.

“What is it?”

“Don’t move!” she hissed.

A big dog, some kind of half dane, half pit bull, came out from the shade behind the picnic table. It growled again. Its lips were bubbled out to the sides. Liz could see tips of the dog’s fangs shining white against his brown, bearish brown muzzle. It took another step and held its ground.

“Lizzy…,” Shaun whispered.

“Don’t run,” Liz said.

This post was inspired by a prompt from last week’s Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

LightningA full-on, heat-shattering, batten down the hatches thunderstorm. I don’t know why I love them so much. Thunderstorms are violent, destructive, and in addition to buckets of rain and strong wind, you have arcs of electricity at about 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit flying around.

What’s there not to like?

I guess somewhere along the line I realized that you couldn’t do anything about the weather, and you might as well enjoy the ride. Thunderstorms have built-in fireworks. You never know when you’re going to see a lightning flash, so you’re always on the edge of your seat. Thunderstorms are quick, too, unlike March rain storms that go on all day, where everything feels wet and dreary.

Yup. On the hottest day of the year, give me a storm that turns the sky a weird color just before it hits, like green or red.

On the flip side: I liked thunderstorms a lot less when we had our dog. I still liked the storms, but the poor thing just couldn’t handle them. She would paw at us, begging us to take her away from the storm or just do something, anything to make it stop. When comfort wasn’t enough, she would start scratching things at random.

One night I took her downstairs to a room where she couldn’t scratch anything that would be damaged, and sat up with her until the storm passed. That was half compassion, half making sure she didn’t get creative and damage anything that I thought was strong enough to resist her scratching. I’ll never forget, 3:00 in the morning, she cocked her head to the side like she was listening for something. I realized we hadn’t heard a thunderclap in about fifteen minutes. Whump! She sat down. Whump! She lay down. In a minute she went to sleep, and a couple of minutes after that, I did too.

Have you ever noticed that some people have a smell about them, in a good way? Or that some smells remind you of people in ways that words, sounds or memories of places and things can’t come close to having the same kind of impact?

As a child, I always thought that my grandfather smelled like pepper. When you think of grandparents you sometimes think of a damp, indoor smell like an old book, or the smell that comes from not being out in fresh air in a long time. Not my grandfather. He smelled a sharp, crackling smell, like he was laughing at an joke that only he knew. My father smelled like Old Spice, and still does. I could never get a handle on it. It smelled fresh and clean, a little too much for my taste, and whenever I hugged him I felt the sticky feeling of five o’clock shadow coming up through a cloud of Old Spice.

The teenage years are probably a time best left forgotten for smells. I smelled like nerd, a combination of sweat, fear, textbooks, and, once a week for two years, the gassy odor of a chemistry lab. It was the eighties, so the girls that I was crushed on smelled like cotton candy, lip gloss, or a department store imitation of fresh flowers. The eighties were also a good time to catch the sharper, crinkly, plastic smell of too much hairspray. I wasn’t cool enough to put gel in my hair then. (Lucky me.)

One of my best friends smells like rich, dark earth and the shaded, cool smell of the woods. My oldest friend brings with him the smell of bacon and home fries. Another was like leather, dark and deep. I’m thinking of someone else whose smell I never knew, but when I think of him I think of the smell of green grass, a back yard, sweat, and the smell of a well-played volleyball. It makes it easier to see his face in my thoughts.

Of all the memory smells I’ve known, and boldest aroma has to be the smell of wet dog. It’s strong and smoky like the smell of an campfire after a rain, only not as bitter. You’ll remember it forever once you smell it because it’ll be all over you. The dog will make sure of that. A dog always wants you to hug them, but for some reason they’ll make sure to get as close to you as they can right after they take a bath or go for a swim. Snifffff….. Ah, perfume.