Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 3
Living the Dream
In contrast with Cookie's humble beginnings, Dolly’s early days were rich in splendor. She slept in a fluffy bed with clean, soft linens changed every day. She loved the smell of fresh new sheets on the cushioned bed she shared with her brother, Jeff, the smaller of the two beautiful blonde Chow mix pups.
Their mother, Queenie, took extraordinarily good care of them, washing them, feeding them, allowing them to snuggle close when they were tired. As they basked in luxurious comfort, their mother appeared as a queen to them in her diamond studded necklace with her trimmed and painted toenails. Her tongue was soft and wet and completely black except for one spot of pink underneath. A certified champion, her trophies took up most of the mantle above the fireplace in the lavish area where their bed rested. Soft music played in the room and the air was comfortably cool. Queenie was known to crawl onto the sofa and curl up for a nap when the people were gone. Life was good.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Every day except Sunday the postman would bring mail and slide it into the metal slot in the front door. The clanking noise would wake the dogs sending their mom charging to the door in a frenzy of barking and growling. The two pups ran to their bed and hid waiting for Queenie’s signal that it was safe to come out.
Dolly soon noticed that the mailman came at nearly the same time every day. As she grew accustomed to the delivery, she grew curious and would peek out over the edge of the box. Her brother Jeff remained, fearful cowering in the corner while their Mom barked and chased the mailman away. In no time Dolly was joining her Mom yipping along in her tiny soprano voice.
Dog Toys Were Plentiful
This routine went on for a time. In the morning fresh sheets replaced the soiled ones, the newspapers lining the box were changed out and fresh food and water were placed in a nearby bowl for their Mom. Sometimes the pink hands of the woman would reach down and scoop her up, holding little Dolly against the woman’s warm body while she spoke softly to her.
The woman’s voice was soothing and kind while the man’s voice was harsh and loud and made Dolly tremble. When he did on rare occasions pick her up, he was rough, holding her too tightly sometimes balancing her in just one hand.
One morning Dolly heard the footsteps of the people approaching their box. She knew immediately that something was not right. Her brother Jeff awoke and began to tremble. They all heard the angry voice of the man yelling at their kind mistress.
Dolly stood up against the side of the box and listened as the voices drew closer. She heard something slam down hard on the coffee table, shattering as it hit the surface which made her flinch and jump down. Both puppies burrowed under the folds of their soft bed as the footsteps grew closer and the voices grew progressively louder. Queenie’s low growl came out in a deep rumble.
The Good Life
The dogs knew it was Sunday because the people were still wearing their night clothes and hadn’t left for work, nor had the mailman come. Sections of the Sunday paper were stacked neatly on the coffee table in front of the sofa. Sunlight streamed in the living room window as the dogs watched and waited.
“We can’t go on like this Connie,” the man’s gruff voice boomed. “I’m tired of your constant fussing over these dogs. I don’t know why I let you talk me into breeding that dog in the first place.”
“But I thought you liked dogs,” she answered. “It’s what brought us together, at that Kennel Club event in...”
“You pay more attention to them than anything else around here including me,” he interrupted. “Look at this place,” he cast a mean glance around the immaculate room. “It’s a pig’s sty!”
The woman sniffed loudly, trying to hold back tears.
“And these stinking dogs have to go,” he said, gesturing to where the puppies stood peering over the edge of the box. Their mother, Queenie, lay at the woman’s feet, resting her chin on one of Connie’s house slippers. Queenie’s hackles rose as the man hovered over the woman, his arms flailing in the air. She tensed, ready to pounce. He dropped his arms and stormed out of the room toward the back bedroom.
Crufts: The World's Largest Dog Competition
When he came back out he had on a faded shirt and a pair of old jeans and penny loafers. They heard the door to the garage slam and the car fire up. It pealed out of the driveway with tires squealing down their quiet neighborhood street.
Connie collapsed onto the sofa and cried into a soggy handkerchief. Queenie tentatively placed her front feet on the couch and licked the woman’s hand as the room grew eerily silent.
They heard the car pull back into the driveway and the garage door creak as it moved up along its overhead track. The car pulled forward into the crowded space and the engine noise stopped. The man cursed as he entered the house through the kitchen door. Tossing the car keys on the kitchen table, he sent a look of disdain toward the three dogs.
“Worthless mutts,” he sneered, heading out of the sliding glass door to the back porch. Queenie’s keen ears picked up the click of his lighter. She could smell the cigarette smoke through the patio door.
Kiss My Grits
Queenie lay close to her two puppies keeping a watchful eye on the living room. Connie came out of the back bedroom carrying a pillowcase stuffed with some of their bedclothes, her purse and a pair of tennis shoes. She sat down on the floor by their box and quickly pulled on her socks and shoes. Queenie edged closer as her master tied the laces.
The woman gathered dog toys and put them in the box with the puppies. Dolly wagged her fluffy tail and ran to the edge to lick the hand as it reached in. Jeff woke with a start and looked around with sleep-filled eyes. He whimpered, not bothering to get up. They both sensed something out of the ordinary.
“Today’s the day,” the woman said to Queenie whose ears moved to their full alert position. She cocked her head posing an unasked question. Then Connie slipped out of the door into the garage and stashed the pillowcase and her purse in the car.
“It’s okay,” she reassured the three dogs. “We’re just going for a ride.” The puppies danced around excitedly in their box, watching as she left the room again. When she came back, she spoke in soft, quiet tones to Queenie.
“We need to find homes for the young ones. They’re getting too old to stay with their mom,” she explained. “They need families of their own.” Queenie put her head against her master's leg, her big golden eyes searching for meaning in the words.
End of the Line
Her mistress reentered the kitchen and picked the keys up off the table. Queenie’s leash in her hand, she tiptoed past the glass patio door where her husband sat with his back to the house. Connie slipped into the garage and pulled an old hard side suitcase from under a pile of discarded rags. She clicked a button on the key set and opened the trunk of the car, loaded the suitcase inside and quietly closed the lid. Tiptoeing into the living room she picked up the box with the puppies and carried it out to the car. She gently set it on the back seat balancing the front edge on the pillowcase. Queenie followed close behind, jumping into the car when her mistress opened the passenger’s side door.
Without hesitation, she turned the key to start the engine and backed out of the open garage door. When the car reached the curb, she shifted into drive and hit the gas. The car sped away just as her husband came running down the driveway. She caught a glimpse of his angry face in the rear view mirror as they moved steadily out of sight.
© 2017 Peg Cole