The Other Dogs


Mark Ready

Emma woke into the silence that was her everyday life. She could see the dogs leap from their perches and run barking outside. Sometimes she followed, sometimes she just lay back down. She didn’t know their names, just their smells. But that was fine. She was content.

It hadn’t always been this way. In the beginning there was sound, and there’d been Vic and Sarah. They told her she was a good girl, and called fetch when they threw her ball. Vic let her sit on his lap when he drove. On sunny days he’d roll the window down and let Emma stick her head out. Her ears would flap in the wind and she’d smell the world as he drove through it.

“Careful not to fall out,” Vic’d say, and brace her body with his arm. He would never let that happen, she trusted him. He was so big. A giant. So was Sarah, but they were gentle, and she knew they would never hurt her.

Emma knew something was different when they stopped taking her for walks. They looked tired, and Sarah quit sitting in her chair. She stayed in bed and Vic cooked for her and helped her walk to the bathroom. Emma knew she must stay out of the way, that Sarah could fall. So she did.

Sometimes, Emma would stand against Sarah’s bed and she would lift her so they could lay together. Or, Emma would jump into Vic’s lap as he watched television. But it wasn’t the same.

One day Vic lifted her onto Sarah’s bed. Emma looked up into her face, it was different, and Sarah started crying. When Sarah hugged her, her arms felt thin and weak. Emma tried to lick away her tears, but they just came faster. That was the last time she saw Sarah. There were days after that, that strangers came to feed her. She was lonely.

It must have happened slowly. Emma didn’t notice at first. Her world was so small, the yard, her bed, sometimes Vic’s lap. He never drove the car anymore, and she never felt the wind in her face. One day everything was silent. It took Vic a while to realize. She saw his lips move and he lifted her into his arms and hugged and kissed her. After that it was gentle nudges if he wanted her to do something. But that was ok. She was just happy to be with him.

One day Vic opened the door to a lady. Emma picked up her ball and dropped it in front of her. The lady smiled and tossed it. She did this a few times and stroked Emma’s fur. Emma liked her. She came everyday and would toss the ball. One day she stayed. Men came with a bed, they moved Vic and Sarah’s chairs and put him into it. The lady let Emma sit with her. Sometimes, she’d let her lay with Vic, but all he did was sleep.

One day the lady had tears in her eyes. She hugged Emma, set her on Vic’s chest and stroked her. He felt funny. The lady cried, and Emma blinked. Men filled the room and Vic and the bed were gone. There was only the lady and her. Emma stayed with the lady a while, but it was different. Then the lady took her to another place. She hugged Emma, cried, and walked away.

Emma wasn’t scared, but she didn’t know anybody. There were other dogs. She learned their smells and slept on a blanket in a wire cage. After many days the cage was opened. She was carried to a grassy yard, there was a man and a lady, and another dog. Emma sniffed them, they petted her, and they threw the ball. They petted her some more, and the new lady lifted her up and hugged her and took her away. She let her sit on her lap as the man drove, but he didn’t roll down the window.

That was the last move she made. Emma could watch the dogs as they jumped off their perches and ran to bark in the backyard. She was tired most of the time. Her stomach hurt, and she couldn’t see like she used to. Emma still liked to go for rides, and the man let her stick her head out the window. She felt his arm brace her so she didn’t go too far. Her ears flapped in the wind, and she smelled the world as the man drove through it.

Emma walked through the doggy door into the backyard. She dreaded going to the bathroom. It was so painful, it made her shake, sometimes she vomited.

“Are you alright?”

Emma jumped. She hadn’t heard a voice in years. There was no one around, and her nose told her there was nobody there. Uncertainty filled her as she walked back into the house and burrowed under the blankets. Her food didn’t taste good, and the lady took her to a building that smelled funny. Another lady poked her. Emma shivered, and watched the strange lady’s lips move. Her lady started to cry.

Then even special food didn’t taste good, and going to the bathroom was painful. Emma heard the voices almost every time she went out to the backyard. There were three of them. They told her things would be ok. They told her they were waiting for her. The rest of the time Emma’s world was silent, and it grew smaller. Her bed, the water bowl and a few steps outside the doggy door.

Emma couldn’t get up. She wanted to, but her legs were too weak. The man petted her and cried. He left and came back with the lady. She cried too. Emma blinked as the world went by. She was in the car, but she couldn’t poke her head outside. The lady hugged her and stroked her fur. Then she was in the funny smelling building again. As she lay on a metal table, Emma heard the lady and man’s voices for the first time.

“We love you Emma,” they said. “Thank you for being such a good dog.” They patted her side.

Emma lifted her head and felt something poke her.

She opened her eyes and saw three dogs staring at her. “Hi Emma, do you remember us?”

“Not really, but I’ve heard your voices.” Emma looked around and noticed she was in the backyard. She saw the dogs from the house explode out the doggy door and bark at the fence.

She looked at the two red, and one black and tan dachshunds gathered around her. “Who are you?”

“We’re the other dogs.”

“The other dogs?” Emma repeated.

“Yes, you’re one of us now.”

“I’m one of you?”

They all nodded. “All dogs that are loved never go away. We just wait for our people to come and get us.” The three dachshunds turned to the gate.

Emma jumped to her feet and ran barking as Vic and Sarah walked into the backyard. She jumped into Vic’s arms, and he hugged and kissed her while Sarah stroked her fur.

“Look Emma,” Sarah pulled a ball from her pocket. “Come on girl. We’ve been waiting for you for such a long time. Let’s go play.”

The End