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Old 03-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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What a character! Sounds like life sure wasn't boring with him around!
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  #12  
Old 07-09-2012, 07:34 PM
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Although I've since divulged "Mac's" (Bailey's) true name, we'll stick with the pseudonym for the sake of consistency!

This story is a little more serious, so I'll tack a funny one on at the end. =)

Running Away

I was fifteen the first time my mother kicked me out of the house. I was too big to be hit but too small to steel myself against the frenzied, furious screaming that filled the house in those days. Life had taken my mother by the neck and never let go, and the terror she inflicted on us was only a tiny percentage of what she was feeling inside. But this time the mistake had been mine. For me, an A-minus in Calculus could mean no college--no future beyond shoveling hay and growing old before I even had children. I wept with my mother and when she told me to get out--as she had many times--I stumbled blearily out the back door and ran.

It was dark, but the pastures and hills had been my haven for long enough. I knew the way the river wound tightly around our property, although I didn't avoid the rocks or thorns that dug into my bare feet. I was still bawling in the slightly-hysterical way of young adolescents: completely disconsolately and without conscience. It was chilly enough that I could have used a jacket, but I knew I wouldn't die without one.

Furious at myself, sick at the reminder that I had gotten my stupid self into it this time, I resolved myself to spending the night in the dugout. I hiccuped my way into silence, although a grey pallor still made my throat tight and my breathing thick.

The jingling of dog tags made me sit up, though, suddenly aware and frightened in the darkness. A sheepish shadow trotted onto the pavement and I burst into tears again at the hopeful, friendly figure that stood at the edge of the dugout. He wagged his tail tentatively and wandered over to me.

"Hi," I whimpered, letting the tears fall onto his mottled fur. His tail wagged absently and I stood, ready to return him to the house where he would be safe and warm. But as I rose the dog jumped up onto the bench and curled into a comfortable ball.

"C'mon, bud," I told him. He whuffed a short breath and I was suddenly irrationally grateful that no one was asking me to go home.

We spent that night squashed together on that stupid, cold bench.

When I slid quietly into the house the next morning, my dad was standing in the kitchen making breakfast. I ducked my head, still ashamed and hateful as I remembered what I had done but he just snorted.

"Bring the dog back?"

Mac trotted in behind me and my dad nodded.

"Figured you needed some company wherever you were," Dad explained, still ensconced in his omelet.

I sure did.

------

Escape

Mac is a pack animal at heart, and although he much prefers to hunt alone, he relies heavily on our other two dogs. Together, they make quite a motley group: and old stiff-legged shepherd and a little white monster. But without them, Mac is awkward and confused, poised at the top of the stairs with his tail lightly curled and his bottom teeth sticking out over his lip in a quite undignified expression.

The only other time Mac escaped from the dog run, he took the others with him. Painstakingly he flipped the latch on our simple gate as I had done hundreds of times. Using shoulder bumps and soft vocalizations, he guided Mammoth out of the yard, followed by Liberty (who was no doubt the engineer of the whole operation). The trio made their way around the house and into the driveway where my Corolla and the truck were parked.

It was at about this point that I noticed they were missing. Home for my seventeenth summer, I was acutely aware of the animals as they were always causing trouble. I went to the window and saw Mac standing in the driveway: erect and proud of his smart little self. I opened the door and whistled. Liberty, ever the pleaser, came running to my feet where he sat, looking up at me with big, round eyes and anticipating a treat.

"I told 'em not to! I did!"

Mac looked frantically around. Mammoth had paused at my whistle, unsure. Mac body-slammed him and began to bay in a futile effort to get him moving: to make their escape, but Mammoth was already shifting his enormous bulk in my direction. It was too late. Mac wailed in frustration and spun in agonized circles around the shepherd as he came to me slowly. The older dog wagged his long, pendulous tail and yawned happily as I let him into the cool house.

Mac stood on the porch for a split second, clearly heartbroken that his partners in crime had deserted him so easily. I opened the door a little wider and gestured for him to come inside. He gave a horrible, miserable little whine, tucked his head, and trotted inside--plans foiled.

To be continued...
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