A Dogs Life

This is a short story called that I wrote with my dog Slick. I hope you enjoy.

“You’re the best friend anyone could ever have.”
Slick turned onto his back in hopes his mom would rub his belly. He knew the lady wasn’t his real mother, but she’d raised him as if he was her child, and he loved her.
Ahhh, yes. Mmmmm. That felt good. Her bed was his favorite place. That’s when she gave him all of her attention. He looked up and she bared her teeth. It was what people called a smile.
“Slick, I swear you’d lie here all day if I’d just pet you, but I’ve got things to do, boy.”
She stopped rubbing his tummy. Maybe if he nudged her hand with his nose, she’d rub a little longer. It worked most of the time.
“You know just how to get to me, don’t you? I think you’re spoiled.” She moved her fingers up and down his underside. “Maybe after I’m dead and gone, I’ll come back as a dog. Then I could lead a life of leisure just like you do. But–right now, we have to get up.”
Did she know he understood everything she said? He didn’t think so, and he was glad of it. Sometimes he got away with things because of it. He stretched and yawned. It was time to start the day.
She threw back the covers and stood. “You want to go outside?”
That was what he’d been waiting to hear. Yes, of course he wanted to go outside. It had been a long time since he’d visited the tree in the back yard. All night in fact.
He jumped off the bed and ran down the hall. Were the dogs across the way out too? He couldn’t wait to get to the fence so he could bark at them. They didn’t know how lucky he felt to be the only pet in this house. He didn’t have to share his family with anyone. Their love and attention was all his.
Hurry, Mom. Hurry. It seemed like he had to wait, wait, wait. What was taking her so long? He wagged his tale, ran back and forth then jumped with glee when she finally approached.
“Don’t be so impatient. I had to get my slippers on. You’re so cute and guess what, today’s your birthday.” She unlocked and opened the door. “You’re two years old.”
He hopped down the steps. Two wasn’t old, heck, he was still a pup.
“Hey, don’t bark at the neighbor’s dogs this morning.”
Don’t bark, was she crazy? He had to keep up his image. This was his territory. “Ruff, ruff, ruffff, ru, ruff…”

* * *

Slick swiped his paw at his ears. He hated it when the little people put things on his head.
“Leave that on, Slick, we’re going to take your picture.”
Oh, no. There was that black thing that always flashed a bright light in his eyes. He hated pictures. Why were they torturing him today?
“Slick, look at me.”
No way, Mom. He’d just pretend like he didn’t hear her.
“Hey, Slick, birthday boy, look over here.”
He couldn’t resist her when she made her voice high and happy like that.
“That’s a good boy.”
Snap. Darn, why’d he fall for her sweet words?
“Wait. Where you goin’, Slick? It’s your 8th birthday. Come back here.”
He knew just where to hide. They could never get to him there. He thrump thrump thrumped through the dining room and down the hall. The bed frame brushed the top of his back as he went under. Now all he had to do was get that thing off his head.
“You’d better come out here right now. Slick? Slick! Come here.”
Uh-oh, he could tell his mom meant business. He wasn’t going to move. Birthday or not, he didn’t care. Attention he loved, but that flashing light…
“If you don’t come out, you won’t get any treats.”
What? Treats? Oh, man…that wasn’t fair. She knew treats were special to him. Should he go?
“Slick. Treeeeats.”
There was that pleading voice again, and he could almost taste the savory flavor of Bonez right now. Today was his birthday so he’d have all the best treats there were. Okay, he’d go, but he’d go out slow. He put his ears back, tucked his tail and crawled along the floor to the edge. Barely sticking his nose out, he looked up at the woman.
“I’m sorry, I know you hate the camera, but you’re so cute. I’m glad you came out. This is a special day.” She picked him up. “Besides being your birthday, you get to see grandbaby for the first time. Her name’s Brittany.”
Another grandbaby to put something on my head?

* * *

Slick stood at the edge of the bed. Did he have to jump up? He didn’t think he could. Oh, well, he’d just stay on the floor. For some reason, it hurt when he jumped, and it seemed to be getting worse.
He really didn’t want to complain because he didn’t want to go to that place again. The place where that man poked on him and shined that light into his eyes. It was hard enough to see anymore anyway.
Curling up, he plopped down into the soft cushion. His mom and dad would be asleep soon. He’d be cold if he weren’t up there with them. Sleeping in his own bed just wasn’t the same.
Maybe if he looked at his mom long enough, she’d help him. He got up, stood by the human’s bed and stared for what seemed like forever. She wasn’t paying attention.
What if he made a noise? When he whimpered she always tried to see what was wrong. “Hmm, hmm, hm, hm.” It didn’t work. “Hmm, hm, hm.”
The woman glanced over the side of the bed. “What’s the matter, old dog? Need some help?”
His mother was always gentle when she picked him up. He loved her so much. Did she know that? He’d show her. Mmmm, she tasted salty and good.
She laughed. “Stop licking my face, you silly hound. I love you, too.”
He settled under the covers and was thankful that, for the time being, his pain was better.

* * *

What was going on? Everybody was there, even Brittany. She was half as big as his mom now, and almost as nice.
Slick wished he felt like getting up to greet everyone, but he didn’t. He could barely raise his head to accept the kind gestures of petting they all gave him. His dad was always nice and had loved him a lot, but he was even more attentive today.
When would this pain stop? Every day he found it harder to move. It must have been months since he’d barked at the dog across the way. There used to be more of them, but now only one was left. Besides, it wasn’t near as fun. It was work to even raise his voice.
What were the human’s talking about? He remembered when he was just a pup that he could hear everything, now if they weren’t standing right next to him, their words were muffled.
He was miserable and wanted the pain to stop. Couldn’t his mom do something to help? The shadow that walked toward him, he recognized to be her.
“Slick? You ready to go?”
Go? He loved to go. Yes, he wanted to go, but he couldn’t even wag his tail to tell her so.
“Come on, puppy. You’ll be feeling better soon.”
He snuggled against her warmth when she lifted him to her chest. A drop of water came from her eye and hit his head. She gently wiped it away with her hand.
“You’re going to have a nice nap.”
A nap? How wonderful a nap without pain would be.
He lay quietly in her arms as she got into the car. His dad was going to drive them wherever they were going. Funny, he almost hoped they were going to that place where the man they called the Doctor was. Even though he didn’t like the Doctor much, the man had eased his pain in the past.
When the car came to a stop, he wanted to lift his head to look outside, but it was useless. He was too weak.
His mother opened the door, and he learned where they were. It was the Doctor’s place. Goodie.
Wait, all the other humans had come along in their cars. His whole family was with him. He was happy when they were all together. His mother should be happy too, so why was she crying?
“Follow me, Mrs. Duncan,” said the woman behind the desk.
He knew she was talking to his mom, because that’s what a lot of people called her.
“The rest of you may come along if you wish.”
“That’s why we’re all here. We want to be with him.”
His dad’s voice sounded sad, but why?
Slick slightly moved his head and glanced about the room. He’d never been in this room before. There was a real soft looking bed right in the middle.
His mother didn’t lay him on the fluffy pillows like he’d expected. She sat on them and held him in her lap. Her lap was another of his favorite places. Oh, but the pain was unbearable. He wished she could do something to help him. When was the Doctor going to come?
“Mr. and Mrs. Duncan.”
Finally, there was the man who would make him feel better. Oh, hurry, please hurry. I’m in terrible pain.
The doctor traced Slick’s back with his hand. “Hi there, old man.”
Hi, please help me. “Hmmm.” The man carried something. What was it?
“You’re going to feel a little stick, Slick. But it won’t hurt for long.”
It couldn’t hurt as bad as his body did. It even hurt to breathe today.
“Is it going to take long?”
“No, Mrs. Duncan. It won’t take long at all. First, I’ll give him something to make him relax. It will be over soon after that.”
“Thank God. I can’t stand to see him suffer any longer.”
She was such a special person. Slick wanted to kiss her, but it was impossible. He couldn’t move. She’d been so good to him and he hated to see her sad like this.
What? What was happening? He was feeling better. He pressed deeper into his mother’s embrace. This was wonderful. He was close to her and feeling better.
His muscles relaxed and the pain began to subside.
Oh, my, yes. Yes, thank you. Hold me, Mother. I’m feeling much better.
His pain faded fast. He was so tired, and he knew he’d be able to take a nap without hurting. He needed to thank his mother for bringing him here. His distress was all but gone now, and he desired sleep. But first he wanted to kiss her.
Could he raise his head? With all his will, he pulled his head off her lap and looked into her eyes. Yes, he was going to get to kiss her. Mmmm, she tasted salty and good. Just like she always did.
Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I love you, too, Slick. I love you, too.”
He knew that. Why else would she take away all his pain? She loved him, that’s all that mattered. That…and a nap.

Sharon from MO