It was the year 1962 in New York State. I don’t really know the town because I cannot read maps. I found out the year by taking a long time to match human noises with letters on billboards down the street from the pound and thrown away newspapers. You are probably curious about what is going on. I will just start at the peak of those educational days.
It was a normal morning at the pound. It started with a person slamming the door of an old Honda Civic and marching in the front entrance, causing the little golden bell hanging from the hook on the paneled ceiling to chime and hurting all of the dog's ears. “Gift marinid, loops!” his fuzzy voice would shout. In return he would receive a few whines and “barks” because we were all ravenous. Nobody had any idea what humans said. We still don’t. He would unlock our cages one by one and lead us into the little eating room that always had a distant scent of feet and dog mess. The walls were plastered in a very messy manner, and it had a tiled floor that was probably there to have minimal stains. Really, though, you would be surprised.
He would scoop little crunchy balls of smelly brown substance into our designated bowls. Humans always advertise for “Dog food that your dog will devour”. We do devour it, but only because we only get fed once a day. Humans eat 3 meals a day, those spoiled brats, and when they do eat, it isn’t small, crunchy pebbles.
After that, he lets us go outside in the small pasture with a barbed wire barrier to run, play, and do whatever else we wanted to do. Yet, today was different. “Alibey!” he called. “Alibey!” The only human talk I knew then was my name.
Trying not to lose my temper, because I was a great distance away and he would not stop calling me, I trotted over to him from across the field, tail wagging. It wags even when I am irritated. It feels weird not being able to have control over your own body.
Anyways, he gently snapped a leash on my collar. I felt my tail quickly fall between my legs. Where was he taking me? To the vet for another needle? To the bath? I shuddered at the thought. He patted me on my snout and gave me a bone. Was this bribery? Blackmail?
Reluctantly, craving a treat, I took the factory made cookie as we headed toward the building. I tried to chew softly so he couldn’t see how much I was enjoying it.
Going through the back door, we strolled through the hallway into the cage room. I felt the old, bumpy carpet on my paws more than usual as I cautiously eyed the needles on the counter by the lamp. Surprisingly, we kept going. My body relaxed. He was making his way toward the wash room when we entered the hallway, but I let out some stress when we, yet again, pushed on. By the time we had reached the door to the front office, the man gave me a big, claustrophobic squeeze and said something I, anew, didn’t understand. He unclipped the notch connecting the leash to my collar and pushed open the big wooden door. Excitedly, having never seen the front office, I walked through the door with, in my opinion, very much swagger and saw a little, stout girl staring back at me. I stopped immediately.
We both stood there observing each other for about 3 seconds. She was a short, stout girl with so many freckles that it looked like she jumped in mud and the little speckles of dirt got on her face. Besides her face, she was really pale. Her soft looking orange hair sat lightly on her shoulders and she had puffy cheeks that looked like apples. She would probably look happy even if she was crying. And though she was chubby, she was stunningly beautiful. That mud analogy probably didn’t exactly help emphasize that.
After a long awkward silence, she ran up to me (down to me), squealed, and picked me up. At first it was uncomfortable, but the new girl seemed very nice, so I relaxed. Although, I was still unsure of what was going on. To you the adoption is probably unmissable, so I will just skip to the part when she takes me home. It was depressing to leave, but everyone was excited for me. Even the snobby toy poodle who claims he came from a luxurious mansion.
When the girl, her parents and I pulled up to her driveway, she squealed again and violently swung open the van door, grabbed me, and eagerly ran inside, shaking me around. She obviously had never handled a precious pooch before. When she stepped inside, we walked down the pale blue hallway with a few lamps and a stool. At the third door frame, we went in.
On the perfectly beige painted wall, there were maroon letters that spelled VELMA. Velma. It took me a while to try that on for size. She put me on a brand new, very fluffy maroon dog bed to match the letters on her wall. That was when I came to the realization I was adopted.
It was becoming dark outside. I stared longingly at the digital alarm clock sitting on Velma’s nightstand, wishing I knew what it read as I slowly drifted off to sleep.
. . .
The next morning when I woke up, it was still pitch-black outside, but Velma was already up and making me tuna and rice. This was more like it. When she was finished, she placed a pink ceramic bowl on top of a thin doily next to a small grey chair in her room with the gourmet meal inside. I wolfed down all of it and then licked the bowl clean. After, I decided that I needed to go outside… for certain reasons.
I jogged over to Velma and whimpered. She didn’t understand. I picked up a purple leash labeled Elbie. I paused. Immediately, I had a flashback to my old owner reading a newspaper and instantly recognised the correct sound pattern. I could not believe that my name was Elbie, not Ailbee. All this time, I had never even known my own name. I stared blankly at the leash, but then decided to shake it off. I pushed the leash closer into Velma’s personal space and she said, “Pearl nuggets arf optimus cacti.” and pointed to her book. Since she obviously did not care about dirty floors, I found a nice, clean corner and did my business. Triumphantly, I strolled over to the couch she was sitting on and jumped on her lap. She sniffed in and made a groaning noise.
“Moop? Jobs?! Sitting bird water soluble!” I cowered. Why was she yelling at me? She was the one who wouldn’t let me go outside. To make things worse, I had no clue what she was saying. I wanted to yell (bark) back, but I did not want to be as bad as her, so I just cringed. She angrily put her bookmark in the book she was reading and stomped into the kitchen, grabbed a few plastic bags and stubbornly cleaned the mess. Redheads must really have a temper problem. She calmed down and smiled. “Finally,” I thought, “she came to her senses.” I watched her walk into her bedroom, heard some crinkling, and observed her walk out with my dog bed. I winced as she opened the door to the patio and plopped the bed down on the corner by the steps. I winced again when I saw what was in the middle of my dog bed. Ouch. That hurt.
“ Wonk,” she retorted, “ weeble norms lengthy partial quiet.” She walked towards her room and when I started to follow, she ran in and slammed the door on my face. Jeepers, what was the big deal? I’m a really sassy puppy. This was pretty much part of the deal. We always pretend to not know any better until the owner can’t stand it anymore and then we stop. I heard Velma turn on her radio and plop on her bed. I was sad. I knew pets and owners got in disagreements, but I never realized that it was this bad. I sulked over to my poopy dog bed and got a devilish idea. Attempting to not make much noise, I picked up the nasty Wal*Mart bag and tip-pawed over to the door, pushed it open and made my way over to the pantry. I weaned the cabinet open, and forced the smelly bag into the small box containing pancake mix and breakfast cereal.
Wishing my vocal cords were capable of laughing, I pulled the dog bed back into the living room under the couch and decided to help myself to some sofa stuffing. This was going to be great. I decided that if I was going to do this, that it could not be primitive. I slowly tore apart at the left seam and then I heard the home phone ring. Oops. My mind was racing on what to do. Should I hang up the phone? Hide? I definitely wanted to continue with my master plan, so I just pushed the dangling fabric back where it was and leaped onto the patio under a lounge chair.
As Velma walked into the livingroom, I was practically holding my breath, hoping for her not to notice. She went over and plopped herself on the couch and the piece of fabric fell on her shoulder! No! My plan was ruined!
I gazed at her, feeling stiff from fear as she stood up and scratched her shoulder. Could this be? Yes! She was so focused on her conversation that she didn’t even notice the ripped couch! I was relieved when she walked up the stairs quickly and jogged into the office. I cautiously dawdled through the patio door and went back to the couch. I ripped the seam just a little bit farther so I could finally access some of the plush, yellow stuffing. I neatly ripped out little 3 inch sections of foam and stacked them by the inside of the second door frame in the baby blue hallway: Velma’s parents room. Eat that, Velma!
Naively, Velma came out to the patio (through the kitchen, so she did not see the couch) and started to come near me. My tail went in between my legs, because I thought that she was going to hit me. She tossed the door open and marched right up next to me. It felt like she was towering over me even though she was shorter than most humans.But instead, she gently patted me on the head as if to apologize and mumbled something I did not catch. Suddenly I felt guilty . Yet, it was already too late. My ears perked up when I heard the distinct noise of a key turning in the doorknob of the front door.
Velma’s parents came bursting through the front door at that very moment, laughing. Next came sudden silence. I am pretty sure that Velma was being called because she ran inside only to find...yes...the dead couch. The parents were giving her a big and loud lecture probably about being responsible. And then she ran into her room, Crying. The worst part came when they saw the pile of foam on their doorstep. “AHHHHHHGH!” her dad yelled. I ran through the patio door and I wanted to burst into tears myself. I sprinted madly through the tiled kitchen, around Velma’s frustrated parents and into Velma’s familiar room. No matter how furious she was going to be, I had to do it. I pranced over to Velma, trying to cheer her up, but I was also ready to bail. Instead of yelling at me, Velma dried her tears, pet me and smiled.
“Finally,” I thought, “I can understand her.” That is when I realized, no matter how difficult it was to communicate with each other, we always have a smile. : )
Then her parents looked in the cereal cabinet. Here we go again.