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by Louisa
Rated: E · Short Story · Pets · #2285271
A human and animal bond with a tragic ending
Meeting Sam was not love at first sight. He was absolutely gorgeous, with a shiny black coat and pointy ears. Step a foot towards this Dobermann’s enclosure though and you’d be instantly deafened by his fierce barking and snarling, using his brilliant blue eyes to glare right into your face, challenging you to give him a stroke. Put it simply, he wasn’t very popular at the pet store, not even with the workers. Many visitors cowered in fear, many cried.

They weren’t going to keep him any much longer, that wasn’t a secret. At the same time, I myself was hunting for a guard dog, one that would keep me and my home safe in the dangerous neighbourhood I lived in. Sam seemed a suitable size for the job, plus his personality ticked all the boxes. So, after dealing with lots of surprised faces and many, many reminders regarding their ‘no refunds’ policy, Sam could be heard howling in a truck right outside my front yard. He wasted no time in putting up a fight, and I might as well have been trying to pull an elephant into my house. Sixty minutes. It took a whole hour for him to cooperate, out of fatigue more than anything else. Day one did not work out very well.

Neither did days two all the way up to thirty. Whatever he was ordered to do, Sam would find a way to disobey. It was after I had my hand wrapped up in the thickest layer of bandaging that I learnt not to wag a finger near his snout, where he hid those dagger-like canines of his. Outside, the petunias in my garden were trampled over, inside the fine China was in pieces. The benefit in enduring the ghastly beast though? He excelled at his job. I can’t remember the last time there was a break in as I was asleep, or someone making a swipe for my purse while I was out on a jog. No matter how fast they sprinted, Sam would always get them. Not necessarily my stolen valuables, because getting me annoyed was the one thing he found joy in, but the thieves soon got used to recognising his face and avoiding it. For the first time in a long while, I could have a peaceful slumber.

The months of one-sided love and affection eventually paid off. Feeding and washing him was no longer a life hazard. On a good day, he’d agree to play with me, and on a really good day, I’d catch him give a little wag of his tail. I could’ve melted. He never changed from being a scary, no-nonsense dog. All he became was a scary, no-nonsense dog that tolerated my presence and would now cooperate more than struggle. If only I knew how drastically he could transform in just one day. I arrived home to find Sam back at it again with the tantrums, specifically directed at my flowers. Before I could comprehend what was going on, I was violently head butted inside the house. It greatly worried me that he wouldn’t so much as let me poke my head out. The little control I had over the situation was embarrassing as I kept a close eye on him, through my windows, that whole evening. What my lawn had done to offend him so badly was beyond me.

I’d told myself I wasn’t going to fall asleep, yet I found my head resting upon the dining table when I opened my eyes. The silence outside somehow terrified me rather than striking me with relief. Something was amiss. A beeline for the door I made, and nothing could have ever prepared me for the monstrosity of a scene I witnessed. An unresponsive Sam lay on the blood-stained grass, beside the equally motionless corpse of a plump rattlesnake. All of my emotions flowed through one long, ghastly shriek. The pieces had clicked. Sam’s hysterical performance had all been a part of what he’d been trained to do, protect me. And I will never forgive myself for not being there for him as he was breathing his last breath. By the time we were at the vet’s, the chance to say goodbye had long passed.
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