They stand behind caged doors. They look at you when you walk by. They bark like their lives depend on it. Some have barked so hard they’ve lost their voices.
They miss running more than anything. I’m talking about all-out, wide-open, honest-to-goodness running. Their legs were made for this, but they can’t do it. Not in here.
The old dogs don’t even bother barking anymore. They know what awaits. One day a woman in scrubs and rubber gloves will lead them away, and they won’t come back.
Jack, the Labrador, for instance, he was ten years old, reddish colored. Nobody wanted him because of the white on his snout. He went to Heaven yesterday.
“People just don’t want elderly dogs,” a staff worker tells me. “It breaks your heart, I won’t lie.”
And Ophelia. She’s a beagle. She’s an old woman. So is ‘Bama, Pistol Pete, Chocolate, Bradley, and Miss Daisy. Abandoned dogs. Lost animals. This is their last stop on the bus ride of life.
Through the doors walks Jace. Jace is a seven-year-old boy with rosy face and blonde hair.
His parents are divorced. They live in a two-bedroom apartment, with no neighbor kids. Jace gets lonely.
“My son needs a friend,” his mother explains.
Jace walks the long corridor and looks for a pal. He sees Rip—a basset hound with so many skin wrinkles he ought to win an award. His face is long, his ears touch the floor. Rip is nine.
Jace pokes his hand through the bars.
“We ain’t supposed to let people touch the cages,” a staff worker whispers to me. “But Rip’s a sweetheart.”
Rip wanders to the door. He licks Jace.
“Mom!” says Jace. “He licked me!”
Rip stares at Jace.
In dog years, Rip is older than this boy. And he’s smart, too. You can see this in his eyes. I’ve been writing a long time, but I can’t find…