Life Long Companions
It had been a long four months. Staying mostly indoors, Gaby needed a new distraction. Internet research projects were interesting, but her mind wandered elsewhere. For several days, her searches shifted to sites that promoted pets for adoption: specifically dogs.
She had discovered Pugs a few years back – the small, piglet dogs with black, over-sized protruding eyes, twisted tails and snorting nostrils. There they were! Four blonde, busy puppies in the back room of the pet shop − all yelping, standing on hind legs, puppy on wriggling puppy trying to jump over the make shift fence. The week before, Gaby had seen three young, caramel Shar Pei dogs in the same place − large folds of skin hanging in all directions over their new, velvet bodies and sad eyes as they sat motionless. Waiting. She hadn’t taken them home either.
Each visit to the shop had been a self-imposed torment, but one she had to make, happy for the initial encounter of the surprise that would be there that day; kittens, puppies, ferrets and even floppy eared rabbits all were a delight. Which would it be? Which would fill that empty space in her home, in her heart? In the end she would leave, alone, dismayed by the experience that had earlier given her such joy.
Gaby had been grappling with this indecision for a long while. Instinct told her she wasn’t ready yet. How do you just move on? Rosy and Lilly had been part of her life for nearly twenty years. She had measured her adulthood by their presence. Some friends had told her to go ahead and get replacements right away. “That would help.” She knew it wouldn’t! Some over-acknowledged the loss. They would say, “I’m sure they were like your children!” Of course they weren’t! But people who had never possessed pets didn’t understand the bond.
The connection was like none other. The dependency, the unconditional affection, the silent assurance that they would never hurt you − these behaviours went beyond human interaction. They demonstrated a familiarity developed over years of nurturing. The ash remains of her two cherished cats laid to rest in her back garden were too close to her emotions. She still needed to pay homage to the memory of her life-long companions.
If she found the perfect dog though, perhaps the lingering sorrow would ease. Gaby wasn’t a stranger to dogs. She had owned a dog when she was very young − a small black dog with brown paws and a pickle tail. There was a certain appeal about having a dog for protection and for early morning walks in the neighbourhood. She even dared hope that City Council would show an act of kindness towards responsible dog owners and rescind the ruling that kept their pets out of the water-front park.
Gaby knew dogs to be remarkable critters. One of her friends bred Pomeranians. Jane had eight of them on hand; besides breeding, they also performed another function. She would take them to the local seniors’ nursing home for their weekly authorized visit. Imagine the glee of the residents at the sight of eight smiling-faced, little foxes trotting through the lounge. Loyal and protective, they soon gravitated towards faithful friends, often the more quiet older people. They had such a knack to sense who needed them the most. They thrived on having a job.
Scott adopted his dog from the Ontario SPCA local branch. An older dog, she has become his valued companion. That will be the next stop Gaby considers to make, soon. She’s hesitant. She doesn’t expect to leave the animal shelter empty handed.
From Kennedy’s published book: Echoes of Footsteps
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