Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peter


Life locked up in a box seems such a distant memory to me now. At first I thought I was fortunate to be put behind bars. Well when you go from my original situation, could you blame me? My memory of it all is a little hazy, but I know the gist of it. My name is Peter, I know it’s an odd name for someone of my being, but like in most cases I didn’t chose it. About four years ago I was roaming the streets of New York City. How I ended up in Connecticut is odd, but it will all be explained. When fending for myself in New York I had been extremely troubled. There wasn’t a man on the planet that I trusted and not a thing I wasn’t skeptical of. This was a point of my life where I was incredibly violent and agitated. The slightest thing would set me off, I was rabid. My senses were keen and I was somewhat healthy besides being slightly under fed. To survive I knew that I had to protect myself by what ever means possible. The beginning months were fairly easy, lonely, but easy. I didn’t have a real family in the beginning. It was difficult you could say. I managed. When winter came around is when it began to become too much. The cold was terrible and the winds made you freeze in place. There were days after days where you didn’t get a break from the shivers. A part of my existence I wish I could leave out. However without it I wouldn’t be where I am today.
            Constant icey breeze with wet, white slosh on the ground one hundred percent of the time. Not a warm spot in the city existed. Every piece of known territory I could find I would have to defend to the death. The other strays were driven to craze too. My daily routine was strict and gruesome. Several times a week I’d go down to the deli where the shopkeeper was kind enough to spare a couple of left over servings. I would meet him in the back where he would feed me old slices of turkey and ham. It wasn’t much but they tasted fine and got me through the winter. Thinking of it now, I owe my life to that man. Without him I don’t think I would be alive today. After my trips to the deli I would stalk my part of the street. I claimed a narrow road where cars only went one way down. It wasn’t very busy, a good place to live. If anyone came even near I would make sure they felt unwelcome. I had been paranoid of everyone and everything. It wasn’t the hunger that bothered me or even the cold. It was surviving alone.
            He wouldn’t leave. I showed to him that he was blatantly trespassing. It was clear that I was hostile. He was much larger than I. A mouth filled with tangled teeth and drool. Drooping bloodshot eyes that matched his drooping face. What stood before me was no friend. Regardless of his appearance I was not worried. I was hungry, but not weak. He attacked, bellowing towards me as if I was going to just sit there and let him maul my body to pieces. I was being underestimated as usual. I leaped out of his path and struck his side. Standing on top of him with my nails drawing his blood as they dug into his neck made him realize he had picked the wrong fight. The two of us growled and grunted, trying to prove who was superior I guess. He desperately threw himself at me, but I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. I changed my hold on his neck from nails to teeth. Like I said, I had to defend to the death. Suddenly two burly hands reached around my stomach and gripped tight. They ripped me off the intruder and carried him in the opposite direction. The hands hauled me in the air into the back of a van and drove off. He was dead.
            “Peter…” I woke up to two people talking about me. “He seems to be one year of age.”
“Breed?”
“He is definitely a mutt. I would say a pit-bull-hound mix.”
They had me locked in a crate. Originally I was livid with the humans locking dogs up like that. Until I realized they were helping us. That realization didn’t come for a while however. The pound was made of three major sections. The front was the entrance where people came to sign papers and set up visits. This room consisted of several couches and a reception desk. The people would spend the majority of their days in this room. Here they could squawk at each other and drink brown liquid out of pots and mugs. Four times a day a few people would wander into the facilities second section that was behind the receptionists’ desk. This is where they kept us, the dogs. It was called “the cells”. The people would examine us and feed us a meal a day. For months I would not let them examine me without showing some sort of resistance. That hostility could only last so long however. Soon it became too much of an effort. I slowly made the decision to greet people with a sort of decency. When they took me to the last section that was called the yard I would no longer be defiant. Upon arrival to the pound I had gone out of control when let out into the yard. Sprinting back and forth across the field, making it impossible for them to catch me. If they neared I would lunge and bite. A man had once torn at my tail, sending me plummeting to the ground. He wrenched my mouth shut with his boney fingers. His grip pulled out my whiskers. He dragged me into my crate by the neck being violent and brutal. My next acquaintance with this man did not go the same way. I attacked him where he was weakest. The humans are all tough and mighty until you put them in their place. As he tore at my tail, I tore at his. The only difference is mine isn’t located in my crotch. His shriek was piercing; I didn’t stop and continued to tare. A piece of him belonged to me by the time I was pulled off. Most of them quickly learned to stay back and left me on my own after that. To take me back to my crate they would harness me with a spiked collar and muzzle so that the same incident didn’t repeat itself. Like I said though, that phase of mine passed eventually. After a while socializing with the others began to become something I actually looked forward to. I’d perform the tricks people wanted me to do and even let them teach me a few. Sit, roll, lie down were simple, but fairly quickly I learned to flip, handshake, and dance. People started to warm up to me. I think I may have even won the favorite from a few. That doesn’t mean I would submit fully to them however. They no longer required putting me in a muzzle and collar just to get me inside, but I still liked to make it a difficult task for them to get me to behave.
            Soon enough I was starting to be brought out of the pound. They took me to places they called “fairs” along with some other dogs I lived with. At the time I knew you were fortunate to be able to leave, but hadn’t figured out why. My first fair was the hardest. Quickly I understood their purpose though; fairs were meant for outsiders to be able to examine us in order for adoption. At the pound the same adoption process occurred, however it was only occasional. Usually when a visitor came in they already had a dog in mind. So rather than having individual visits at the pound, they could show us off to the masses at fairs. It hit me that I here I could actually have a chance of being removed from the pound and put into a home, a family. The first time I witnessed an adoption was difficult to handle I guess. It was at the pound and I couldn’t get over that fact that I was being left behind while others were being saved. The “funny” thing to me was that most of the dogs in the pound were there because they had been born there. None of them had to experience what I had to, yet they all were being saved. So when I was introduced the first time to a group of people at the fair I was hysteric. The urge to bounce all over them and lick was uncontrollable. They weren’t very happy at the sight of me. I think the woman said I was too aggressive to control, that no one wants a mutt who jumps. The rest of the groups that saw me had the same reaction as the first. The day went on like that and soon the fair had passed. I was escorted back into the van and off I went, returning to the facility. Abandoned again.
            I felt optimistic about the second fair, but there was a still that “what if it happens again” lump stuck in the bottom of my stomach. The person I was assigned to as a fair guide was unusually nice. She had taken me for a long run around the park before hand. I could tell I needed it since I had so much cooped up energy from being locked in a small box of bars for so long. She also had these crunchy chicken flavored snacks that I’d get tossed to me periodically. The treats gave me the incentive to behave, confidence too. The first group that approached me of the day was a child, woman, and man. They seemed incredibly nice and I thought that man had showed some sense of interest in me. He bent down and gave me a great soothing scratch behind the ears. No one really pets you in the pound, just a pat once in a while. It felt fantastic. As usual they left thought. I saw them several times pass by as the day continued. By the time things were over there was still no catch. It was hopeless. I was hopeless.
            Three weeks had passed since my last fair. Depression really had sunk in by then. I over heard one of the people in the pound bring in a visitor and ducked my head into the corner of my crate. All remaining hope in me was gone at this point. I heard one of the visitors yell, “That’s the one we were looking for!” My only thought was there was another lucky prick being brought into a home that wasn’t me. The visitors walked to the front for a little while. Some time had passed and they returned. There was a rattling on my crate door so I looked up. A group of three stood at the front of my crate. There was an older man and woman along with their kid. The kid didn’t look that young, but still was a kid. All older humans dress alike in their odd clothing so it’s hard to give a detailed description. At the time I was completely confused; they let me out before yard time. One of them hugged my face as another scratched my back. Taking another hard look at them I realized who they were, THE child, woman, and man. I don’t know why it took so long before I noticed them. They were the nice group I saw at the fair three weeks ago! Suddenly it felt I had been hit in the face. That I had awoken from a dark, misty daze. They were adopting…
 me.
            “Peter, your new home! Welcome!” The child’s name was Ethan, the woman’s Frances, and the man’s Wallace. They were letting me out of their car. When I jumped out I was greeted with a great big white home that had an old, wooden deck attached to it. In front of the deck lay six acres of field, bushes, and beautiful trees. The yard was gorgeous green. I had not seen or even known such a place existed. Connecticut was entirely different than New York. The only tree’s I had seen before were ones that looked like large bushes around the pound. Here there were trees that shot through the clouds. “Your new home” I thought. Is this what it feels like? To have a home. I tried to soak in the moment, but the three of them were so anxious to show me everything. Ethan ran me across the never-ending property. There were gardens, stonewalls, fruits, sticks, and all you could imagine outside.
            I was still just a kid when I was adopted. Living in a house had a huge effect on me. There were so many things I had never seen before, or even thought existed. I guess you could say I was a little crazy then. If you asked my family they would say I was absolutely psycho. Excitement just came so easy and on top of it, it would never go away. People, cats, couches, food, warmth, more people, beds, family, all suddenly entered my life. How could you not go wild? Each morning I would wake to my parents getting my breakfast prepared for me, along with a bone when I was finished. After they served me my combination of beefy chicken bits and kibble I would either be allowed to roam the then unfamiliar outdoors or lounge in the house. Inside there was an armada of rooms. I think it took me almost a year to finally finish exploring them all. My fluffy, checkered bed lay in the family room. It was one of the biggest rooms in the house. One large, red, clothed sofa facing directly in front of a large, rectangular box called a television. I find television from time to time interesting with all the moving images and flashes, but humans seem to be obsessed with it. They eat, drink, even sleep in front of it for the majority of the day. Each night Wallace spends hours in front of it. I guess I’ll never understand it. Along with the family room there were others such as the kitchen, bathrooms, closets, bedrooms, laundry rooms, offices, rooms to live in, the list goes on.
            I now am older and have grown extremely attached to everyone in the family, even the cat. Although I still can’t tell if the cat is fond of me. The family calls her Flora. She is an angel with the humans; with me she acts like a rabid on the streets of New York. Certain rooms of the house she won’t let me go in or even near. And when I do go near them I get her claws to my nose, it isn’t pretty. Thankfully she has the sense not to gorge my face. She’s awfully lethal considering how small she is. Sometimes I feel like she does it all for show. When we lay at the dinner table she often lunges at me, always with a closed claw. The family thinks it’s hilarious and cheers her on. When the family is out she will venture downstairs to terrorize me and whatnot. Most times it’s fun and games, but once in a while she will be in a bad mood. Her bad mood leads to real fights, like I said though she has the sense to keep her claws closed. The family would be devastated if something happened to either of us. I respect her regardless.
            Now my wild days are behind me, as are my adventures. By now I have the house fully discovered and the outdoors completely mapped out. For the most part there aren’t many surprises left in my life. There is one though that has recently become apparent to me. A surprise that has left my heart crippled. Until recently I had not felt the agonizing pain that struck me while locked away in the pound. That hopelessness that feels impossible to shake off. This surprise made that pain come back with a crushing blow. The surprise had happened so fast. I had only minutes to let it sink in. Ethan had his bags packed and room emptied. He gave me a long rub and scratched me on the head. Next thing I knew he was out the door. At first it didn’t register. I thought he was simply going out for a brief amount of time like all the humans do. Soon I began to notice Ethan wasn’t returning. I thought something had happened to him. For weeks I would sit by the front windows of the house gazing at the driveway. Every car that pulled in gave me hope. That hoped was quickly smashed when I saw that Ethan wasn’t the person emerging from the car.  During the day I would patrol the property, scanning all the possible spots where he could be. Months had passed and there still was no sign. Eventually I found out he is living somewhere else now.
 Abandoned again.

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