Rated: E · Short Story · Animal · #1377262
A story of a lovable mongrel. My entry and winner for my first Writer's Cramp contest.
|Mix-up the Mongrel |
He was, as his name suggests, a rather mixed up dog; looking like no breed I had ever seen-and I’ve seen quite a few. He was big and burly with an every-color long coat and a long snout. He loved to wander down the street, tongue hanging out and tail wagging, looking for a pat on the head or at my house, treats. On a bored and lazy day, I’d stare across the street at Mix-up and imagine how many purebreds that dog had in its lineage.
It was one of those things that can only arouse the interest of a dog breeder-or fanatic, of which I was both. My dogs were German Shepherds, purebred, and most were on the track to become professional dogs: search and rescue, police dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, and the like-a few were promising show dogs. And yet, as much as I loved my own dogs, I was always charmed by Mix-up.
After a few months in the neighborhood, the family that owned Mix-up, the Greeley’s, found that they couldn't keep him around. There were layoffs at the local auto plant and they had to sell their house and move into a smaller house.
While talking with the father one day at the mailbox I found out that they would have to take him to the pound, no one had wanted him.
“He’s really a great dog,” He said. “Mix-up will fetch with you and sleep at the foot of the bed. He’s never even growled at the kids-even when they’d climb on his back and stuff. Just breaks my heart…”
It broke my heart too.
In some ways, Mix-up had become a part of me. We had established a routine. In the mornings, when I was working some of the Shepherds, he would sit patiently at my gate and watch, his turning and turning as he watched me run dog after dog in the oval of my front yard. After I was done, and not a moment sooner, he would make his way across the yard to me. Then, he would look up at me and cock his head, almost as if he was asking, and me?
Sometimes, for fun, I would run him as well, snapping the leash onto his collar, and leading him in a brisk trot. He would have made a great show dog-if he could qualify. Then, after taking off the leash and putting it away, I would give him a few biscuits, and send him back home, where the kids were usually calling him for breakfast.
It might seem weird that a dog breeder would so enjoy the company of yet another dog, but it's not. All of my German Shepherds were not really ‘mine.’ After I had trained them to a basic level, they would be given to others, to start a life of public service-or show life. So I always retained a certain amount of emotional distance from the dogs.
I didn’t want them attached to me; it would only make the transition harder. And I wanted their love and loyalty directed to the humans they would work with. As for me, I always felt a loss at one of them leaving, but not as much as a pet would inspire. Sometimes though, when a dog’s leaving was especially sad for me, I’d call Mix-up over and give him a good petting. Those smiling eyes and wagging tail could do nothing but put a smile on my face.
But with Mix-up (who I had taken, for some reason, to calling Mojo), I could show more affection, and be a little less strict. I thought about the whole thing quite a lot that night. And slowly, the seeds of an idea started to germinate.
“Hey Mojo,” I called the next morning. As per our usual agreement, he stayed at the gate until the training session had concluded, and when he came over to me, I ran him a few times and gave him his usual dog biscuits. But instead of taking off the leash and shooing him back over to his yard, I took him over to my porch and sat on the top step. Mix-up’s family came across the street, with a few things in tow.
“Sit boy,” I told him quietly. They put the stuff down on my porch and the kids all came up and hugged their Mix-up, and he gave them big wet doggie kisses in return. Mrs. Greeley pulled out a few twigs that seemed perpetually stuck in Mix-up’s coat, and then gave him a pat on the head and a kiss on the nose. Mr. Greeley squatted down and gave Mix-up a kiss on the nose and a command to, “be a good dog,” before standing.
“I don’t know what to say, we’re all so grateful you could take him in. It would have been impossible to leave him at the pound.” Mr. Greeley said, his voice shaking.
“It would have been impossible for me to let you take him there,” I said. After a few more minutes of talk and goodbyes, the Greeley’s left, and Mojo stayed. Mojo and I watched the moving van and SUV until they turned a far corner and were out of sight. He whined, confused.
“Its ok boy, you’ll see them again…”I told him.
I looked into those big brown eyes, full of confusion, and curiosity, and love. These were the eyes of a pet, a dog to love unreservedly.
I knew it would take time for Mojo to get used to being Mojo, and me to get use to being a pet owner, not a breeder. But I knew that of all the situations that could arise from the tragedy that had thrown Mojo and me together, this was the best.
“Come on boy,” I called. Mojo glanced one more time at his old home, and then at me, then followed me into the house.