by Shae Snow
Story written through the eyes of a three-legged dog.
I cannot remember my mom fully. She was hungry most of the time. I cannot remember my brothers or sisters. They were, like me, lost in this big concrete jungle, with lots of other dogs and those humans, who had food and nice faces and some of them even smiles, but I am not sure if we lived in the same world. It looked like they cannot see us. They just went by. Never touch us. Never looked at us. I remember I was hungry too. All the time. My mom had only a little milk for us to feed.Â
In the nights, we crawl up together in the corner of the street and at that point, I felt safe. In the mornings, I liked the calmness of the sleeping city, the first sun on my skin, my moms' breath next to me, my brothers and sisters. But then the noise came, the sound I did understand, chaos, people screaming, cars honking, the heath, the cold, the hunger. I was scared most of the time.Â
I don't know at which point I lost my mom and other pups. I don't know what happened to them, and maybe It's better that way. All I know is, at one point, I was all alone. There were many other dogs on the streets, but they were not very friendly. I was hungry and I had to fight for my food. I was too young, too small, too little to fight those grown-ups, that is why I still have scars on my face. But I manage to get by. Somehow. For some time. I was only three months old.Â
I learned very fast that humans are not supposed to be trusted. They looked interesting all right, but some of them were very mean. Some tried to hit me, kick me, tell me away. I figured out that we can't coexist together, so I started to avoid them. Stealing food only when they weren't looking.Â
I cannot remember all the events, so I can't tell you everything, but I remember this. At one moment, there was this bang. Scary loud noise. And there was a pain, so much of it. Sharp, piercing pain in my body. There was blood and this human, this monster and IÂ wasÂ so scared. And then, there was darkness. I got shot by a mean human. I just lay there on the pavement. There was no one. I cried. And then, there was silence.Â
THE FIRST STEP INTO A NEW WORLD
I opened myÂ eyes and looked around. It was warm, cozyÂ even. There was a hand stroking me, really gently and softly. It was a human's hand! Boy, I was terrified. Humans are bad, I can't let it touch me, it will hurt me! But I couldn't move at that point. Something felt different with my body. Wait, my front leg was missing! It was gone, so it did not bleed anymore and It didn't hurt as much. Someone must have helped me, someone must have picked me up from the street and well, took away my leg. It was a bit weirdÂ but definitelyÂ better than the piercing pain before.Â
I looked around again. This human, this girl petting me, she had a lovely voice. She was whispering to me, very calmly, that I am such a brave girl, such a beautiful girl and that I will be just fine. I knew I was not supposed to trust humans, but at that moment I was too weak to run. And honestly, for the first time in a while, I felt comfortable, so I fell back to a long long sleep. The hand kept on stroking me gently.Â
When I woke up, I felt much better. I got up. It was a bit weird, standing on three legs, but it was ok. I could hop around, one hop at the time. I sniffed the space a bit and noticed other dogs on the sofa. I show them myÂ teeth to scare them awayÂ because they could harm me. But they were not aggressive, they were nothing like grown-up dogs on the streets, guarding their food. There was Olga, she was older, wiser and didn't mind me at all. And there was Viva. Viva was a pup, just like myself. She was not scared at all, she came right at me and licked my face. Boy, that felt good. She was nice. She told me that I am in good hands, that her mom will takeÂ care of me. I looked around, trying to find her mom, but didn't see any other dog, so I was very much confused when she told me she was talking about Irena, her human mom. How can this be, I wondered. I remembered Irena's hand softly petting me days before, but if I had a strength back then, I would surely run. Or bite at least. But apparently, not all humans are bad. As Viva said, there are many humans like Irena and if you are lucky enough, they become your moms or dads. They love you the most in the world. They give you belly rubs, food, water, shelter, home. They take you on fun trips and walks, they even play with you! They hug you and kiss you and stay with you your whole life. I couldn't believe my big ears. This was too good to be true and too different from what I have seen until now. But at that moment, doors opened and Irena came into the room. I panicked and tried to run and hide under the sofa, but I forgot I am on three legs. I felt flat on the floor and cried loud from the pain. Then the most extraordinaryÂ thing happened. Irena ran to myÂ side, picked me up gently, gave me a kiss on my head and pushed a lovely smelling cookie in front of my nose. What, I said! For me? I ate my cookie with joy. I looked at Irena's face. There was only love and kindness in her eyes. Viva came to us and licked Irena's face. I did the same. And it felt good.
Since that day everything was different. Irena and her dog gang became my friends. Every night, I slept in a warm bed, I was fed good, I learned hooping and playing around. Sometimes I had nightmares about the human who shot me, about streets, about missing my birth mom and my brothers and sisters. But every time I opened my eyes, there were Viva and Irena and I felt better. When the snow came and New Year was just around the corner, I had my stitches removed. I was not missing my leg anymore, three was just fine. I thought I would stay here for good, but a night before New Year, Viva came to me and told me the news that changed my life forever. She told me that my own human mom is waiting for me in another country and that Irena's friend will take me to her on New Year's morning. I was shocked, a bit scared even. I didn't want to leave my new friends behind and it was still a scary world out there, but at the same time, how beautiful it would be to have my own human mom. My own home. My own forever... Who was this girl, I wondered. Who found me from another country and choose to give me a home? To myself, a very different dog, a dog who is missing a leg. A dog who is afraid of the outside world. A dog who lived on the streets. A dog, with a huge heart, but who is hopping instead of walking. Viva said she must be a good human, otherwise, Irena wouldn't send me there. So this was it. For the next two days, those were my only thoughts. Where am I going? What would it be like? I hid my front paw underneath me, thinking, wondering, waiting for my destiny.Â
A LONG WAY HOME
Car drive was very long. I was a good girl, as Irena told me to be. I slept most of the drive. After hours on the road, the car stopped. I looked slowly through the window. We were in the empty parking lot and it was in the middle of the night. Snow was falling gently. My heart was pounding when car doors opened. I looked up and there she was. A girl with tears in her eyes. I will always remember her tears. They were tears of joy mixed with compassion and hope when she saw me for the first time. No one ever looked at me like that. Without hesitation, without any thought, she lifted me up and held me close to her heart and her face. I felt her tears, I felt her heartbeat close to mine. She kissed me on myÂ cheekÂ and whispered in my ear: "I was waiting for you for so long, baby girl. I love you the most in the world. You are my girl. You are the most perfect, beautiful, important girl. I will be yours forever." I trusted her at that second. No doubt in my mind. I knew she meantÂ every word of it. I licked her face and fell asleep on her lap. And then, we went home.
Today, I am 8 years old. I have a lovely home and I do so many things! I sleep on the couch, I have food and water and cookies. I have toys. I go to the seaside, I go to the mountains. A few years ago, I got a human dad too, and a dog brother Ash. We are all one happy family and theyÂ mean a world to me. I came a long way - from the streets of Bosnia, destined to die on that pavement - to this nest of love. Sometimes stars and planetsÂ alignÂ just right, so those kinds of miracles can happen. I was so lucky, I know, even though myÂ mom always says that she is the lucky one because I have her! I don't know much, but I know this: I'm almost glad that I got shotÂ because if I wouldn't be, I wouldn't find myÂ humans. And I can say, without any doubt, that these areÂ MINE humans. There are many like them, but these onesÂ are mine! At the end of the day, this is really all that matters.