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Adventures of Cookie the Stray

Updated on October 1, 2017
PegCole17 profile image

Peg lives on ten acres northeast of Dallas with her husband, their two dogs, stray cats and the occasional opossum.

Home at Last

On my own camouflage was important. New to family life, I still looked like a raccoon.
On my own camouflage was important. New to family life, I still looked like a raccoon.

In July I'll turn fifteen, Lord willing and the creek doesn't rise. I don't know the exact day I was born. The fourth is only a guess but it's easy to remember. I was a young pup, running with a pack of street dogs when a man found me and took me home. What a joy it was to be in a place where meals were served every day. Before that, I scrabbled for crumbs left by the bigger, stronger dogs in the pack.

The years have passed like a blur since those times of hunger and fear, but I remember the daily struggle. This is my story.

Life on the run used to be hard. Now I have my own back yard.
Life on the run used to be hard. Now I have my own back yard.

The lady’s hands were softer than the man’s but his touch was more down-to-business. He knew exactly where to scratch that would start my leg twitching with joy. His smell was different too, husky, bold. The lady had a fragrance like crushed flowers that cling to fur after a fine roll in a meadow. On my back in front of the man’s chair I tried to lock eyes to urge him to rub faster and harder. More nail.

It was a pleasant surprise to find myself here with two square meals a day. Treats came on a regular basis. Whenever the woman called Connie pulled the milk container out of the fridge, I sensed the familiar snap of the lid and came running into the kitchen. From time to time milk appeared in the bowl at my station near the cabinet by the sink. That was where I waited with barely concealed excitement as the lady prepared our meals. Life here was good; although I remember when life wasn't. I try not to think about that too often.

Lap sitting is one of my talents.
Lap sitting is one of my talents.

Sometimes my dreams take me back to those awful places with emptiness in my belly; lonely nights, the endless walking, the frightful cars speeding past. I have seen the gruesome remains of strays that didn’t make it safely across busy streets. Times are so much better now.

The hand rubbing my belly stopped with a rhythmic pat, pat, pat. That always signaled the end of the session. I took the cue and moved behind the curtain at the front window and promptly fell asleep.

Undercover naps are a favorite pastime for Cookie.
Undercover naps are a favorite pastime for Cookie.

Cookie plunged rapidly into a deep dream that began with her leaping straight off the deck, then, circling the neighborhood from the air. She often traveled this way in her dreams, inexplicably unbound by the laws of nature and physics. She had no wings and yet she flew. Often, she found the returning jolt upon reentering her body to be slightly nauseating. But true to her canine nature, she revealed no visible sign of this momentary weakness. The dizziness would pass quickly leaving her ready to resume the demanding duties of barking and begging.

Staying alert for the possibility of treats is key to being a dog.
Staying alert for the possibility of treats is key to being a dog.

Her earliest memories often replayed while she slept. There were the long days when she traveled along the winding dirt road littered with years of debris. Some of her first meals were scavenged from the endless mounds of trash bags and broken boxes along the way. In times of good fortune, a moldy crust of bread rewarded her keen sense of smell. Those rare finds among the mass of bottles and cans served to sustain both she and her sister Nicole during their arduous journey. Along the trail, competition was tough for the food they discovered. Living in the forest were opossums and squirrels, rodents, insects, birds and always, the predators seeking their next meal.

The harsh winter snow bites into the soft paws of the stray as she seeks shelter.
The harsh winter snow bites into the soft paws of the stray as she seeks shelter.

Her sister, Nicole, was smaller and more delicate than Cookie whose physique was like a miniature German shepherd. Nicole’s dad might have been a Chow from the fluffy blond hair and soft features she inherited. Nicole’s instinct for hunting was not as fine-tuned as Cookie’s which left most of the meal finding to Cookie while Nicole remained hidden in the nearby brush. Sometimes Nicole worked to flush out the small rodents and prey that Cookie would corner and catch for their meal. She was braver if birds were the opponent. Then, Nicole would dart around like a dervish, sounding her shrill bark that kept the vultures and crows from taking their catch. It was this demonstration of bravery that Cookie admired most in her litter mate whose small body was easy game for the talons of a large bird. They worked their way through the forest as a team, resting furtively, eating occasionally, on the alert, always.

The large wolf-like dog stood at a distance, his muscullar bulk quivering with anticipation.
The large wolf-like dog stood at a distance, his muscullar bulk quivering with anticipation.

Nicole and Cookie had fallen into a tired trance, rhythmically plodding forward, with Cookie taking the lead, her head hung close to the ground, her tail down as she marched endlessly onward. With the snap of a twig they both stopped abruptly sensing a presence in the clearing ahead.

Ahead, two dogs rested under a plastic pool wedged at an odd angle against the base of a large tree. The dog with thick fur looked like an enormous wolf with a tan mask on a heart-shaped forehead. His dark eyebrows above black ringed eyes gave him a scholarly look, like he was wearing glasses. His tan ears cocked quizzically over black fur that covered his back. When he stood up, Cookie saw broad shoulders, a deep barrel chest with a concave belly a tinge on the thin side.

Buddy’s traveling companion and new friend, Rover, was a veteran to these surroundings, having accepted the loss of his human owner long ago. They dozed in the cool afternoon shade of the pool remaining close to watch each other’s back. Buddy drifted in and out of a cool nap longing for the man who had been his, for the truck bed where he had ridden, and for the wind whipping by his face and ears. Times were tough here in the woods.

Their reverie was broken by the sharp crack of a twig along the trail. Both sets of ears came forward to full alert position as their bodies tensed. Buddy emitted a low growl that was more a vibration than an audible sound. Rover’s eyes opened soundlessly, his body a statue of pressurized tension, ready to pounce on the intruder.

"These woods are lovely, dark and deep..."
"These woods are lovely, dark and deep..."

The newcomers were a curiosity to Buddy and Rover. Their travels over the past weeks had drastically altered their puppy appearance. Their once soft puppy fur was studded with a bristly coat full of twigs and burrs. Their small, razor-sharp puppy teeth had long since fallen out, replaced with adult canine teeth. In their small jaws the adult teeth appeared comically out of proportion. Steady walking had worn away their puppy roundness. Firm wiry legs held up their gangly thin frames.

Buddy crawled from under the pool with the grace of a waking giant, moving closer to the newcomers. His past experience with other dogs came back to him in a flash of images. The old neighborhood with fenced yards allowed nose-to-nose contact with his former canine neighbors.

Both girls froze in mid-step as four sets of eyes locked on each other.

© 2017 Peg Cole

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    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 6 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Ann, Thank you for finding humor among the sadness and for your reaction to the story's beginning. So glad you came by and thanks for taking time to leave a comment.

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      Ann Carr 6 days ago from SW England

      This is delightful, even though a little sad. Cookie looks wonderful and your first paragraph really drew me in; I love the humour too.

      Will try to catch up with the rest asap.

      Ann

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 13 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Chris, Glad you are getting caught up with the beginning and thanks for reading Chapter 3, too. Good to see you.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 13 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi there Linda, Thanks for stopping in to read this little tale about dogs. Glad to see you here and hope you'll stick around for more.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Good beginning. I've already read part 3, so I'll catch up now.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting beginning to your story, Peg. I'm looking forward to reading more about the dogs that you've introduced to us.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Barbara, Glad to see you here and hoping you'll come back for the next chapters. I'm hoping to turn this into a novel with a few added twists and turns. So far I have around eleven chapters drafted up that need some refining.

      Also glad to see that you will be revisiting and renewing your activity as a writer here. Nice of you to stop by.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 2 weeks ago from Templeton, CA

      I'm glad to know you'll be continuing this story. You also left me hanging. I had to read the comments to see that it was just the beginning. I love your photos. I'll be looking for more of this story.

      Meanwhile, in a search through your profile for other chapters, I saw I need to pay your other hubs I've missed a visit. Maybe it's time I got more active here again.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you, MsDora, for your sensitivity to the issues and for your kind comment.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      That is quite true, Peggy Woods. I have a neighbor who scoops up many of the strays around our country home and takes them in to get spayed and neutered. The cat population out here is incredible and growing.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good morning Chitrangada and thank you so much for taking the time to read this tale and leave such a kind comment. I hope we'll see each other again on the next installment of the journey.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Good read! It brings to our attention a doggie matter we may neglect to think about. Thanks for encouraging us to pay attention.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Peg,

      You are certainly giving voice to the daily struggle of stray dogs in this article of yours. The spaying and neutering of dogs would truly help this problem. There would not be so many unwanted dogs (and cats for that matter) some of which end up on the streets if more people would be responsible pet owners and spay and neuter their animals.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello FlourishAnyway, You're right about every stray having their own story. Out here in the country we've seen our share of discarded animals whose confusion is readily apparent. I hope I can properly convey their plight in this series. Thanks for stopping by.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Beautiful and engaging story!

      I am sure the pretty animal must be having these thoughts in mind as you have narrated so beautifully in this touching story.

      Having love for animals is a sign of great compassion.

      Nice pictures and videos. Well done and keep it up!

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello dear Snakeslane, So good to have you visit on this tale about Cookie. I remember that you are an animal lover. I always appreciate your keen observations about stories. Thanks so much and hope to see you again soon.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Paula, sweet Paula, thanks for the upbeat comment and the kind words. I'll do my best to make the read worth your time. Thanks for stopping in.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good morning Maria, I'm so glad you enjoyed this tale of Cookie and her new friends. I'm working on Chapter 2 right now and will try to get it out there soon. Thanks for your encouragement. Always. Hugs.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Will Star, thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement. It's good to see you here.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Every stray has a story and this was engaging to read. I especially enjoyed the photos and the detail you provided l. I hope all the dogs had a good one being.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 3 weeks ago from Canada

      Peg, Oh sure, leave us hanging with four sets of eyes locked on each other! Cookie, Nicole, Buddy and Rover, how sweet...I love dogs, and I can't wait for more doggy tales (wagging) from you.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Peg...So far, so good....I know I'll be following this. You can capture my interest anytime with a tale about our buddies with tails! I usually fall in love. I look forward to each episode! Paula

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      As you can imagine, this story is right up my alley - so happy this will be a series, as I'm already hooked.

      Love how you got inside Cookie's sweet head - and are sharing her story with us.

      The pictures are precious - as are the Alpha and Omega tunes. Brava! Love you, Maria

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 weeks ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This is very good, Peg! I like the pics too!

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi there Mike. High ho, high ho, it's into the woods we'll go. Be sure to bring your bug repellent. Hoping to get this one rolling a chapter at a time like we've both done in the past. Thanks for stopping in for the journey.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you, Kristen. I do appreciate your kind words about the POV and the story. Hope to see you on the next chapter soon.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Susan, Thanks so much for reading and for liking the story. I plan to release more chapters soon. I hope you'll follow along.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - You drew us in, deeper and deeper into the woods and soon our ears perked up at the unfamiliar sounds.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 3 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      This is a great story Peg. It was so beautiful to have it from your dog's POV. Nice job and touching!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love your story Peg! I hope that you'll be posting more of it on here.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks so much, Jackie. I look forward to reading about your animals. It is fun. This one's been in the works for years.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      What a great way to tell a story, Peg. Loved the little videos too! I am writing about animals now too that I have owned. Fun to do. Fun to read. Great photos!