|image courtesy of D.B. McNicol
...Continued from last week's Fiction, HERE.
Judy smiled out at the puppy on the sidewalk. He was definitely following her. How had he bonded so quickly? She only saw him first this morning. From her seat, she took a quick picture out the window. She should make a “Found Dog” sign to post in her neighborhood.
When she left the coffee shop, Judy pet the pup, but didn't watch to see if he followed. Waiting at her bus stop, she peered around. There he was, sitting discreetly outside the shelter, back along the low wall behind the sidewalk. When the bus left with her inside, she watched as the puppy took off behind the bus, but he turned before the bus did. Back in her neighborhood, a panting puppy greeted her as she emerged from the bus.
“Sweetie, I don’t know what to do with you!” It was just one day. People who lost dogs often looked for several days. Or longer. The sign was a good idea. As she sat there by a tree with this random dog, she looked around.
An idea struck. “You’ll follow me, right?” A wag was the only response. “Okay. Let’s go.” Instead of turning down her street, she followed the main road to the next block and turned there.
Judy and her tagalong friend took a winding, circuitous route through the neighborhood, walking slowly along streets she had not paid attention to before. Before taking the time and trouble to post signs in the neighborhood, Judy wanted to give the runaway pup’s owners an opportunity to see him. Or, conversely, for the dog to see his home and run up to the door.
Neither happened. After a 30 minute walk, during which time her computer bag seemed to gain weight, Judy reached home. She unlocked the gate, sighed, and bent down to address her new friend. “Buddy, I know nothing about dogs. I can’t keep you.” He looked up at her and wagged. Judy smiled sadly and ruffled the fur on his head. “Are you house-trained? Do you have a name?” The tail wagged more energetically as she petted him.
Peering behind her into her yard, Judy thought out loud. “I guess maybe you’d be safer inside the gate than out roaming streets where you could get run over.” She was scratching him absently on the neck, without looking at the animal. “Maybe if you were in just one place, it would be easier for your owners to find you if they’re out looking.”
Looking back at him, she said, “Why don’t you have a collar, anyway?” Rising, she pushed the gate wide and added, “Okay. Come in.”
The little white puppy raced in the gate and started sniffing around the trees and shrubs. Judy latched the gate and walked up to the door, being sure to close the door quickly behind her. She really had no preparation for a possibly untrained puppy in the house.
Minutes later, the door opened and she set out a bowl of water and another bowl of some leftovers from last night’s dinner.
The next day, although she was sure she had latched the gate behind her when she left for work, the puppy was waiting for her at the end of her workday and when she got off the bus at home. That night, she took her supper out to the back yard, where the puppy ate scraps as she handed them down.
“You never say anything, pup,” Judy realized. “Woof! Woof-woof-woof!” She tried to get him to speak, but he wouldn’t. She threw a stick, and he watched it fly across the yard, then turned back to her as if to ask, “Why’d you do that?”
On the weekend, Judy went to a pet store for proper feeding dishes, food, and a leash – because she knew there were leash laws, even if the dog didn’t understand. She picked out a simple blue collar, and started thinking about names. On an impulse, she got a simple charm engraved “Boo Radley” for the silent puppy in her life.
The "Found Dog" sign never got printed.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments, when possible. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below. Today's prompt came from a list provided by Brett Minor of The Transformed Nonconformist.