Running With the Pack

November 27, 2010
By imdefyinggravity SILVER, Bolton, Connecticut
imdefyinggravity SILVER, Bolton, Connecticut
8 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
You don't want to hear it, but someone has got to tell you, they're just shoes! LET THEM GO! ~Glinda

I ran. The wind in my coat and my paws striking the cobblestoned street were as familiar as breathing in and out; a life rhythm. I ran. I ran through hunger, pain, fear. Running was my way to deal with everything, my place in the world. I ran.
As I ran past the butcher’s shop, I paused to beg for a bit of meat to ease my stomach’s cramping with hunger pains. My efforts were futile, though. One look at my mangy coat and scarred flesh was enough to send me slinking out the door at the end of a broom. I looked up to see the pack leader, the alpha dog, short tail, shrink away from a two legged wielding a mean looking stick. The two legged struck at short tail, landing a blow on his neck. Short tail whimpered with pain and shrank away from the stick.
When the two legged finally saw me in his peripheral vision, I was already in the air. My teeth sank in to his neck and there was an audible crunch as my teeth came together. His attention was fixed on me as the club came down on my head over and over. When the pain was too much to bear, I released my grip and the two legged crumpled. I ran.
I ran through the fog that clouded my vision. I ran when my legs felt like jelly. I ran. I fell to one knee and gave in. The blackness was absolute.
When I finally came around again, the streets were dark, my time of day. Hardly any two leggeds to chase me and my pack. But even in the darkness, the two legged whom I had bitten haunted me. His face glared at me from a piece of paper tacked to a post.
Man bitten by Stray Dog!

The words were undecipherable, but that face plagued me. That poster was on every doorway, every post. I couldn’t get away. When I finally curled up to sleep for the night, nightmares filled my head, and that unsettling poster.
The very next morning, the streets were crowded with two leggeds. I didn’t need to understand their words to feel the tension and anger in the air. There were signs too, with pictures. I stopped midstep as I recognized short tail and long snout on one of the signs. It was our pack!

Save the dogs! Save the dogs!
The law needs an amend,
They bite just to defend!

The mob chanted. I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to. I ran.
I don’t know how many days past, but the two leggeds stopped bothering the pack. The butcher even threw me a chicken leg on one of his slow days. Good things don’t last forever though…
It was dusk when I saw the vans; Cages on wheel. Two leggeds came and forced us towards the ramps into the back of them. I ran. I jumped. I yelped. My desperate attempts to escape were to no avail. My van held eight to ten other dog, none of which I knew. They all snarled and fought for dominancy. I didn’t. I tried to see my city out the barred windows. My home, my streets, my city, my pack; all gone in the blink of an eye. My eyes filled with tears, and overflowed. My tears wet my paws and I let emotions wash over me. Pain. Loss. Sadness. Abandonment. Fear. Hurt. No one knew what my future foretold. Not knowing was the worst. I had lost my place in the world.
Eventually, the doors opened and I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. The sunlight was blinding. Flowers blossomed, the grass was green, and butterflies flitted like dancers. It was beautiful; but nothing could replace the corner I had curled up in to sleep every night since I was a pup. The smells of meat and the sounds of the city were stamped in my memory. They tantalized me like a dream just out of reach. I couldn’t make myself run. I was dead inside.
What ever chewed up and spit back out my morale had no effect on the other dogs. Short tail, my closest friend, the one who had kept me warm through the frigid nights when I was a pup, was the picture of joy; A free spirit. I couldn’t join him.
One day, I was laying in the shade of a pine; legs splayed, and tongue lolling out when short tail sat beside me. He didn’t make a sound, just stared at me with his unmoving, unblinking eyes. What I saw in those eyes were what I loved about the city. More than the feeling of safety in the regular flow of day into night, crowds and traffic was the pack. The pack was my life. I ran with the pack, I fought for the pack, I loved the pack. I had saved short tail because of how I had been shaped as I grew up in the pack. The pack had made me who I was. Whether I was in the country, or the city, the desert or the arctic snows, as long as I had the pack and the pack had me, I would be whole.
I ran. The wind in my coat and my paws striking the cobblestoned street were as familiar as breathing in and out; a life rhythm. I ran. I ran through hunger, pain, fear. Running was my way to deal with everything, my place in the world. I ran.

The author's comments:
originally for a contest, this story was inspired by an article in the paper about a year ago about a protest in Romania about the banishing of stray dogs. Enjoy!

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