There was a house, small and quaint, at the end of the path on Windsor Road. Tucked behind the cover of the tree’s, the house was truly isolated from the world.
That was just the way that Mr. Lenner liked it. In his mind, the only three things he needed in the world were his sweet wife, a good book and a quiet place to sit. (And maybe the occasional cocktail, cheese and crackers to go with it of course…)
On this particular day Mr. Lenner was enjoying what to him was a gorgeous day. He sat in his recliner, a paperback book on his lap. Or, more accurately half a paperback book. (Mr. Lenner cuts his books in half so they are easier to carry around and read…)
He glanced out the window, damp with frost. Rain drops trickled down the window pane and the sky was a brilliant grey. Pausing for a brief moment, he admired the stark gray color, wondering to himself how such a dull thing could have so much beauty to it.
Mrs. Lenner’s smile caught his attention and he turned to face her. He couldn’t resist smiling a bit to, a humble little smile, as he looked at his wife.
“What is it?” He asked her, a playful hint in his voice.
“Nothing honey…” She replied with her soft voice, focusing her attention on her knitting.
The needles clicked together rhythmically as she worked away.
Mr. Lenner took a deep, calming breath, and his old recliner groaned and creaked as he leaned back.
Nothing in the world made him happier than his wife, and spending a cloudy day inside with her brought him immeasurable bliss. He was elated, as he was every day since he retired and was finally able to spend more time with his love.
A sudden scratch at the door woke him from his nap with a start. Alert, he glanced over at Mrs. Lenner, who kept on knitting as if she hadn’t noticed the strange sound.
“Did you hear that?” He asked her.
“What?” She replied, confused.
Then there it was again, the scratching at the door.
Scritch Scritch Scritch
She rose, suddenly curious after hearing the noise. Setting down her knitting materials, she crossed over to the door with caution. Mr. Lenner was struck by fear, he never liked visitors, and how strange to have one in the midst of a storm.
Mrs. Lenner grasped the door handle and slowly swung the door open. A streak of brisk air whispered into the room, giving off a slight chill.
The Lenner’s were utterly surprised to see there was no one at the door.
A moment passed where both of them sat in odd bewilderment.
Mrs. Lenner peered out into the yard, and as she prepared to close the door, she saw it.
At her feet sat a little figure. It glanced at her with big, soft eyes and stuck it’s little tongue out, panting and shivering in the cold
Mrs. Lenner’s heart just about melted at the sight of the puppy, cold and soaked, his short fur matted down on its body, and his small little tail wagging furiously.
“You poor thing!” Mrs. Lenner exclaimed, deep sympathy radiating from her voice.
The puppy looked up at her with desperate eyes.
With that she swiftly scooped it up in her arms and brought into the warm house.
She took it upstairs and made it a warm bath. Never having taken care of a puppy before, she placed it in the water gently and with care.
The puppy splashed and romped, brimming with energy and wonder.
Mrs. Lenner shrieked with excited surprise as the puppy continued to splash the water everywhere in its little outburst.
Eventually it tired itself out and became still, suddenly curious by the bubbles filling the tub around it. It sniffed them, turning its head shyly, perplexed, before promptly taking a bite of the soap mountain before it.
Yipping with excitement as the pile toppled over on itself, it went at the soap again licking and chewing away at the strange substance before him.
Mrs. Lenner couldn’t help but laugh at the rambunctious little thing go, so full of youthful energy.
The time came for the puppy to get out of the tub, and Mrs. Lenner grabbed a soft white towel, neatly folded, and brought it over to him.
He looked up at her and stuck his tongue out, almost grinning with a devilish smile as it shook it’s whole body with vigor. Water flew free from his fur, an explosion of liquid expanding outwards like a child landing a perfect cannonball in a swimming pool.
She just smiled it off and gingerly wrapped the towel around the petite figure of the pup. He squirmed in her arms, trying to get free and making a game out of it as puppies do. Well he was struggling to escape the towel, she noticed a small collar on his neck with a little golden tag. Holding it between her fingers, she examined the tag. It had no information except its name, etched into the cheap metal, a paw print engraved underneath it.
“Otto…” She read to herself.
At the sound of his name Otto perked up, looking at her with his smile ears raised.
She smiled and looked at the curious little creature, who lifted his little head and sniffed at her face. Despite the puppies reaction to the soap, Mrs. Lenner didn’t see it coming when the puppy started licking at her face with quick little jabs. Her eyes radiated with amusement.
Eventually she took the puppy down stairs and miraculously, it’s hyperactive vivacity was absent.
Mr. Lenner was just where he was when they had left, and had dozed off again. Seeing the big old man as a cushion, the young pup leaped onto the man with unforeseen agility.
The force and shock of the landing startled elderly Mr. Lenner and his eyes shot open.
Naturally, it took him a moment to analyze his surroundings, and when his eyes landed on the puppy, he let out a long, hearty, laugh. Not any ordinary laugh, no, a pure, deep full laugh from deep inside his heart.
Mrs. Lenner watched and smiled as the laugh faded and Mr. Lenner rested his head back down and returned to his nap.
The puppy curled up on Mr. Lenner’s lap and let out a considerable yawn, opening its mouth as wide as it could and squinting it’s tiny little eyes. With that it promptly rested its head on Mr. Lenner’s stomach and joined him in his nap.
Soft breaths drifted out of the puppies little nostrils and he rose and fall softly with Mr. Lenner’s breathing stomach.
Mrs. Lenner looked on and found herself overwhelmed with vibrant and colorful emotion. Never in all her time married to Mr. Lenner had she seen him laugh like that. Heavy tears of glee welled in her eyes as she let out a fantastic, brimming smile.
A few hours passed, the three relaxing in the warm and safe house, waiting out the storm. Well Mr. Lenner and the pup caught up on their rest, Mrs. Lenner used the telephone to attempt to locate the dog’s owner.
Unfortunately, the Lenner’s were a fairly lonesome couple, and having no family or friends in the area, didn’t have many people to call.
When the storm finally concluded, they took the pup outside to say goodbye.
Having been isolated in their little corner of the world, the Lenner’s didn’t exactly have quite an accurate perception of the world as it was at the time, so they figured the puppy would find his way home.
Thankfully, he did.
Time passed as they returned to normalcy in their home, but even week’s later, Mrs. Lenner’s mind would turn to memories with her little canine friend.
With nothing else to do, she went back to her knitting. Yet with Otto on her mind she found herself knitting something for him. Not because she thought he would return, but because she just wanted to remember that wonderful day. She knitted on, swimming in her nostalgia.
The day came when she moved on, knowing better than to expect the puppy to come back. She was especially content as she sat in her plaid chair, knitting, with Mr. Lenner at her side, taking his afternoon nap.
Knick-Knack Knick-Knack, went the needles.
Scritch Scritch Scritch, went something on the door.
She nearly overlooked the sound, but it leaked into her ears and the sound was unmistakable.
Rushing to the door, she nearly tripped on herself, letting out a giddy whoop of laughter. She swung the door open, and he was almost unrecognizable, having grown so much since he last saw him.
“Otto!” She screamed with delight, scooping the dog into a hug.
She heard his tail rapidly whipping back and forth on the doorframe as she held him. Soon he became heavy in her arms and she set him down.
The commotion had woken Mr. Lenner from his slumber, and he beamed at the dog.
“Otto!” Announced Mrs. Lenner, getting the animals attention. “I made something for you!”
She rushed off through the hallway into the kitchen, and returned a moment later, clutching a precious garment in her hands.
Otto looked at it with curiosity, most likely trying to decide if it was food or a toy. It was neither, actually. In fact, it was a sweater.
“I made you a little sweater!” She told him, almost as if she expected him to understand.
She bent over and stretched the sweater onto him, pulling it tight over his paws and little legs.
“Now you went get cold in the rain!” She expressed with pride.
Otto stood still for a second, attempting to conceptualize what was on his body. Going with his initial instinct, he attempted to get out of it, rolling on the floor and flailing wildly. Realizing his failure, he went with his other plan.
He clenched the sweater in his teeth, and with a feisty tear, ripped it clean off.
Yet Mrs. Lenner wasn’t sad, not even mildly dissapointed. No, she just laughed it off and watched as Otto investigated his new found “toy” with profound curiosity.
He nudged it to Mrs. Lenner’s feet and looked up at her with encouraging eyes.
She understood his subtle hint and picked up the sweater, giving it a light underhand toss down the hall.
Otto bolted after it, taking off like a jet plane. He grabbed it with his mouth, skidding on the floor in a sharp, spinning turn, getting in position to sprint back.
They repeated this game for awhile, and when Otto was fatigued he hopped up onto Mr. Lenner and passed out into a doze.
One could not even attempt to explain what it was that brought them so close together. For her, he was something to take care of. He was someone to love, to raise, to spoil and play with and every other number of infinite things a parent might do.
After that day, Otto returned on occassion. The thing was, his visits were never predictable. He’d come then he’d leave, then he’d come and leave again.
Time went on, years passing, and both parties aged. Otto’s visits brought hope to the lonesome old Lenner’s, and he had an odd loyalty to them, never failing to return, again and again.
The frequency of his visits always differed, but the Lenner’s always waited and Otto always returned.
It was a day much like the first when Otto returned to the quaint house, not having visited in a while.
Otto dragged the worn, beaten sweater with him, as he always did.
The Lenner’s had installed a little doggy door in their front door, for convenience purposes. Otto clammered up the wet steps and pushed through his little door, into the house.
He was met with something he had never been met with before.
Exploring the house, he saw no sign of his usual greeter, Mrs. Lenner. Eventually he picked up a familiar scent and followed into a room he had never been in before.
Mr. Lenner sat on the edge of his bed, head in his hands, in a position of despair and defeat.
Otto slowly padded into the room, over to Mr. Lenner.
At the sound of paws scratching the hardwood floor, Mr. Lenner lifted his head and identified the source of the noise.
He looked at Otto with sad eyes, red and blurry, filled with pain. Mr. Lenner’s eyes widened as he recognized the dog, before turning back to despair a moment later.
Otto, generaly confused, placed his toy at Mr. Lenner’s feet. This act appeared to much for him as he crumble back into his hands and water fell from his eyes.
Otto didn’t understand.
After another failed attempt to get Mr. Lenner to play, he sat on his hind legs, patiently waiting for Mrs. Lenner to arrive.
Soon Mr. Lenner looked up, and for a second Otto saw an intense flash of something he had never seen before in Mr. Lenner’s eyes.
“Leave.” Mr. Lenner commanded strictly.
Otto turned his head, perplexed, and looked at Mr. Lenner.
“She’s not here, Ok? She… She’s… She’s gone…” Mr. Lenner said, breaking down as tears trickled down his face with vigor, like the raindrops on his windowpane once did.
Otto was sad. He didn’t want to see Mr. Lenner like this. He wanted to nap with him, and he wanted Mrs. Lenner to come play with him. Otto could not comprehend what had happened.
“I said leave…” Mr. Lenner muttered.
Silence as Otto sat, not understanding.
“I SAID LEAVE!” Screamed Mr. Lenner, raising his voice as the tears fell more aggressively.
“GET OUT OF HERE!” He yelled. “SHE”S GONE!!!”
Suddenly frightened and intimidated, Otto turned and ran. Down the stairs, out the door and into the frosty cold. Otto ran the whole way home, rain showering his body and his soft, sad whimpers filling the lonely night air.
Months later, Mr. Lenner sat in the same position of defeat, mourning his loss. Now he had relocated to his recliner, but he still was stuck, lost without her.
Day in, day out he sat in his chair, trapped in grief. He cried, he slept, he thought. He cried, he slept, he thought. Each day that passed filled him with more and more hopelessness.
One day he awoke from a nap, his eyes still dry from all the crying before. At his feet was a little figure, sitting, a sad look in it’s warm eyes.
Otto dropped the sweater at Mr. Lenner’s feet and stared into his eyes with desperation.
Mr. Lenner paused, a blank expression on his face.
Then he smiled.
Otto, filled with delight, leaped onto Mr. Lenner’s lap.
Mr. Lenner, taken aback, paused again before letting out a long, hearty laugh into the house that had been quiet for so long. His laughter filled the house with new life, reaching every corner and space.
As Mr. Lenner set his head down to rest, Otto curled onto his lap.
For the first time in years, the quaint little house at the end of Windsor Road was glowing with life.