Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 2
Through Rain and Sleet and Dark of Night
The four dogs stood in the woodsy clearing eyes locked on each other. Buddy broke the standoff by taking a few steps forward and extending a gesture of welcome. He lowered his upper body in a stretching motion, almost a bow, followed by a yawn of indifference. Then he rose up and plodded heavily across the clearing and sat down with his back to the group. Cookie’s jaw stopped twitching but Nicole stayed behind Cookie’s flank hidden from view.
Rover made a bold approach and attempted to sniff Cookie's hind quarters. That resulted in an explosion of high-pitched shrieking and barks from both Nicole and Cookie that took the larger dogs by surprise. Rover backed away at once and cocked his head to one side surprised by the ferocity of the tiny girl dogs.
Encounters of the Canine Kind
Rover found a spot next to the remains of an old campfire, a reminder of the time they had shared with the hot dog man. From there he pretended to ignore the new guests gazing down the dark path in search of anyone who might be approaching. He hoped the kind man would return with more food.
With the tension brought on by the arrival of the two girls now dissipated, all four dogs lay quietly in the shared comfort of the shady clearing, settling down in their respective areas. They took turns napping each left to their own thoughts and dreams.
Cookie drifted into a deep sleep, reassured for the time being that her sister was safe and relieved of the constant pressure of leadership by the company of the other larger dogs. Still her sleep was disturbed by the ever-present hunger that left her feeling slightly nauseated and empty.
Life had not been easy for Cookie since it began that hot summer day early in the morning. The first thing she remembered was the stifling pressure. She felt constrained, struggling for air as she pushed her way through a long tunnel. Exiting at last, she took her first breath of clean fresh air. Her mom gave her a good licking all over to clean her and that felt good in a wet tickly way. Then her mom’s attention turned toward the whimpering others. There were so many of them, crying and squirming. She wished at once for the return of her mother’s soft tongue and that she could be the only one.
Dreams Filled with Food
For a short time life seemed good; she felt safe and cozy with the others of her litter. A standard routine developed that left little time for worry: wake up; drink of the warm milk; play a little with her mates; then sleep again. All was well. And life continued this way for a few weeks as the young family grew.
Then one day something changed. Her mom wasn’t in the box when the puppies woke up. There was a lot of crying and pushing from the hungry pups. A plastic bowl had been placed in their box and although it had once contained water, it now lay on its side, the wet contents spilling onto the blanket where the puppies slept. They all missed their Mom and the warm comfort of her soft fur. They each hoped she would return soon. But that was not to be.
The puppies had been placed in the back seat of a car in their cardboard box. As the vehicle traveled, Cookie swayed with the motion when they came to a stop or turned a corner. Some of her brothers and sisters slept, but not Cookie. She sensed a change in things and it felt all wrong. Cookie kept a watchful eye on the others as they traveled along in the hot car.
Sometime later, the hatch snapped open with a loud click and woke the group of puppies sleeping in their damp box. The movement of the car had stopped and now it rested under the shade of a tree. Cookie wondered again where her mother had gone and why she hadn’t come along for their ride in the car.
All the puppies were hungry and had begun to whimper and moan. They were slightly dizzy from the motion of the car and missed the comfort of their mom’s warm fur and convenient food supply. It had only been a short time ago they all nestled close to her warmth, searching her belly for their favorite spigot where the nourishing milk flowed. Once again the plastic bowl had been placed upright and was refilled with water. Cookie was the first to sniff it out and take a tentative drink. The others soon crowded around, clumsily stepping on each other and pawing into the bowl. The clear liquid was no substitute for Mother but they all thirstily drank. Two of the bigger pups pushed Cookie away from the bowl and began to wrestle. With a splash, one puppy fell against the side of the bowl, once again tipping it over.
Breakfast Time with Mom
Cookie ran to the dry area of the box, followed closely by her sister Nicole. The others continued to wrestle and nip each other playfully while she and Nicole lay side by side on the alert. They heard another car drive up and a door slam, but the sides of the box were too tall for them to see much until a hand reached once again toward the wrestling pups.
“I’ll take this one,” the booming voice announced. It wasn’t the voice of the woman who had always taken their soiled papers away. The large hand grabbed up the biggest puppy while exhaling a stream of cigarette smoke into the box. Cookie sneezed and so did Nicole, who shook her beautiful blonde fur from her head to the tip of her curled tail. Tears welled up in Nicole’s golden eyes spilling over the black outlines that looked as if someone had drawn them on with an eye liner. Cookie was glad the hand had not taken her or her little sister. They'd hoped to stay together when the time came to go to their new homes. Now that the time was near it was frightening.
She and Nicole had comforted one another during the long nights after their Mom was no longer allowed in their box. After the withdrawal of their mother’s feedings they had been given a bowl of mush called puppy food. She and Nicole often remained hungry as the larger, more aggressive pups pushed them aside. They made a pact to stick together during the weaning and vowed to look after each other.
Safe in the Bed by the Sofa
As the day wore slowly on more hands reached in the box, their litter mates disappearing one by one until the only ones left were Nicole and Cookie. The strong odor of the soiled box began to make them both feel queasy. The spilled water had soaked their papers and some of the puppies had soiled the box in places, adding to the smell of the box’s original contents. Was it mangoes or bananas? Cookie felt weak, tired and deeply thirsty. She and Nicole lay side by side in an area of the box that wasn’t too wet, hoping soon that they would go home and be reunited with their mom. It had been a long hot day in the back of the car trunk. Soon they dozed.
When she and Nicole awoke it was dark and they were still in the smelly box. Night had fallen around them. They could no longer see the underside of the car’s hatch back lid. In fact, they heard no sounds beside the crickets chirping and the distant call of an owl calling from a tree.
“I’m frightened,” whispered Nicole in a squeaky voice.
“Don’t worry.” Cookie reassured her sister. “They’ve probably just gone to bring Mom here and to get us some food.” But she lacked confidence in her own words as the night sounds grew louder and the darkness grew deeper.
On My Own
© 2017 Peg Cole