Author of fiction novels, short stories, book reviews and more, Peggy Cole AKA PegCole17 has published articles on HubPages since 2009.
Unlike Cookie's humble beginnings, Baby Dolly’s early days were rich and happy. She loved the smell of new linens on the cushioned bed she shared with her brother, Jeff, the smaller of the two beautiful, blonde Chow 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 seemed like 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 often crawled onto the sofa and curled up for a nap when the people were gone.
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 schedule, 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.
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 up little Dolly, holding her against the woman’s warm body while she spoke softly to her.
Her mistress’s voice was soothing and kind. 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 one hand.
One morning Dolly heard footsteps of the people approaching their box. She sensed that something was not right. Her brother Jeff awoke and began to tremble. The puppies and Queenie listened to the angry voice of the man yelling at their kind mistress. Soon the footsteps came closer and the voices grew louder.
The people were still wearing their night clothes and hadn't left for work, nor had the mailman come. Sections of the Sunday paper lay strewn about on the coffee table in front of the sofa.
Sunlight streamed into the living room window as the dogs watched anxiously and waited. Dolly stood up against the side of the box and peered out. The voices grew closer. She heard a loud crash as something slammed to the floor shattering as it struck. It sent her burrowing under the folds of their soft puppy bed.
“We can’t go on like this Connie,” the man shouted. “I’m tired of your constant fussing over these dogs." He slammed his fist into the wall. Queenie growled, a deep rumbling sound low in her throat.
"I don’t know why I let you talk me into breeding that dog in the first place.”
Connie was aghast at Jeb's warped recollection of the truth. She tried to let the comment pass, bringing up memories of better times.
"But you said you liked dogs,” she reminded him. “That’s what brought us together, at that event in Brans. . .” He cut her off.
“You pay more attention to them than anything else around here including me,” he interrupted. “Especially me. Just look at this place,” he cast a sour glance around the immaculate room and continued to rant. “It’s a pig’s sty!” Connie sniffed loudly, trying to hold back tears.
“And these stinking dogs have to go,” he said, gesturing to where the puppies peered over the rim of the box. Their mother, Queenie, lay protectively at the woman’s feet, resting her chin on a house slipper. 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.
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 listened to the familiar sound of the car returning to the driveway. The idling of the motor was followed by the creak of the garage door moving up on its metal track. It pulled forward into the crowded space and the engine noise stopped. The man yanked open the kitchen door and entered, cursing under his breath. The car keys landed on the kitchen table with a clank, followed by Jeb casting a mean look at the dogs as he passed.
“Worthless mutts,” he sneered and slid open the sliding door. Queenie’s keen ears picked up the click of his lighter and smelled cigarette smoke creeping in from the patio.
Queenie stayed close to her two puppies keeping a watchful eye on the living room, waiting. Connie came out of the bedroom carrying a pillowcase stuffed with their bedclothes, her purse and a pair of tennis shoes. She sat 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 dogs' toys and put them in with the puppies. Dolly wagged her fluffy tail and ran to the edge nervously licking the hand that 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,” Connie said. Queenie's ears rose to full alert. She cocked her head with an unasked question as her mistress slipped out into the garage where she stashed the pillowcase and her purse in the car.
“It’s okay,” she told the dogs. “We’re just going for a ride.” Hearing their favorite word, 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," she whispered. Queenie rested her head against her master's leg, her big golden eyes searching for meaning in the words. "They're getting too old to stay with their mom. It's time we found them families of their own."
End of the Line
Her mistress crept into the kitchen and grabbed the keys from the table. Queenie’s leash in her hand, she tiptoed past the glass door where her husband sat on the patio with his back to the house. Connie moved into the garage and pulled an old hard-side suitcase from under a pile of boxes and rags. She clicked a button on the key fob 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 open driver's side door. She moved into the passenger seat as Connie slid behind the wheel.
Without hesitating, she started the engine and backed out of the garage. When the car reached the curb, she shifted into drive and hit the gas. The car sped away as her husband came running down the driveway waving his arms in the air. She caught a glimpse of his angry face growing smaller in the rear view mirror as they moved steadily out of sight.
Need the Backstory?
- Looking for Home, Adventures on the Road, 1
An old dog remembers the journey she made with other strays leading to her rescue by a compassionate drifter on a mission. The story winds through dangerous woods, hunger, predators and a cold case mystery and a storm that brings two estranged lovers
- Looking for Home, Adventures on the Road, 2
Cookie's thoughts turn to her humble beginnings, the smell of cardboard boxes, and memories of her mother and litter mates.
© 2017 Peg Cole