Qualified Entry: Fiction Category
By: Walter Miller
Why your pet is always happier at home
Mr. Man put two plastic tubs each with a flake of alfalfa into the paddock for the two mares. After feeding he turned the golf cart around and waited for Lady his ten year old black and tan German Shepard to step into the golf cart and sit on the floor of the passenger side facing Gibson a black and white Tibetan terrier. Leashed and tied to the seat handle so he couldn’t get free. Gibson was too wild and excited to roam free admits the horses with Lady.
Time was Lady would walk back up the hill to the house. But the years and her arthritis have caught up to her so she rode back to the house. Mr. Man gave Lady one enteric coated aspirin pressed into a small piece of bread with a little peanut butter on it morning and night it helped with her pain In the garage Mr. Man unleashed Gibson so he could walk around the rose garden with lady. After circling the roses they both laid down in front of the front stairs. That’s when Lady spoke to Gibson.
Gibson, what’s the matter with Mr. Man?
I think I saw him crying while we were riding down to feed the horses. I don’t know Lady he was talking to Linda then he was crying. What did he say? Words I don’t know. He hollered my father died this morning the funeral is Friday February first at 10. We should leave Thursday January thirty first then Linda hollered about work. That made Mr. Man holler louder. He said. Stay home if you like I’ll go without you. Then Linda said quieter. No of course I’ll go let me start to make arrangements. Christine said fly into Canton/Akron that was the nearest airport to her house. You’re right Gibson many words I don’t know either. But one word I do know is died. That is bad. Died is the way the squirrels were after I chased them bit them and put them in the pile by the horse gate. So died is not good. Then Lady asked what else did you hear Gibson? Mr. Man said. The animals. We have to find out how to care for the animals. He said he would call Darrell; ask him to feed the horses morning and night.
Then he said he has to find a place to take the dogs. Well that’s us Gibson. Do you remember what he said after that? No Lady he told Linda he had made arrangements. More words I don’t know. Gibson heard Mr. Man calling. Gibson, come boy we’re going for a ride. Then Gibson heard him call Lady. Lady, come girl. Gibson jumped into the back sea of the SUV. Lady with Mr. Man’s help climbed into the cargo area. Lady, Gibson said this is strange. Mr. Man put your bed into the back with you. What can that mean? I don’t know Gibson that has never happened before. Look Gibson this is the way we ride to the mail box. Yes Lady but we didn’t stop. This is farther than the mail box. Mr. Man put my leash on now he’s getting yours. Get out Lady, Gibson called to Lady. I don’t want to be here alone I’ll walk right by your side. Mr. Man led the dogs into the vet hospital and gave the leashes to the attendant. I’ll be back on Sunday to pick them up. Then he called to the attendant as she led the dogs to the kennel area. I’m certain this is the safest place to board them. Gibson turns to watch Mr. Man as they were led to the kennels. He asks Lady. Why do we have to stay here? Were we bad? No Gibson. I heard Mr. Man say when we got out of the car this was a “mergency” (sic). But I don’t know that word “mergency”. I don’t like the smell here Lady. It smells like the place we come to get a shot. I don’t want a shot. Yes Gibson this is the place we come to get a shot but not for us today. Follow the woman into the stall. We are going to have to stay here. I stayed here another time when I was first at the ranch. It will be fine. Lady there’s too much barking here. If Mr. Man was here he’d yell. Bad dog. Too much barking. No more barking. How can we sleep? Gibson look; here is a woman she has my bed. Lady, what if we have to pee? I remember from the last time I was here. A woman comes to take us for a walk. Lady, you know a lot of things. Mr. Man said I am a German Shepard dog. A working dog so I have to know a lot of things. I think you should take a nap. Am I a working dog? No Gibson you’re a house dog. A dog for fun to be a friend to humans. I like to be a friend to humans. Look Gibson here’s the woman with our leashes. She is taking us for a walk. See I told you this would be alright. Pee fast. This is not like being at home you have to pee fast. What about food Lady? This same woman will bring us food. Gibson, in front of his bowl after the walk. He talked to Lady. This is not the same food we get from Mr. Man.
Yes, I remember they don’t give you the same food like home. But this is all we get so you have to eat it anyway. What about peanut butter? No peanut butter here Gibson eat. The lights went out. Now it’s dark. Let’s go to sleep. Lady, the light is back. Now what. The woman will take us for a walk soon. Good. I have to pee. . We have to stay here more? Here comes some more food. Lady I miss the house and breakfast with Mr. Man He gives me cereal. I miss the house too Gibson. I like to walk around the garden not walk on a leash. Yes but I miss sitting on Linda’s lap and being petted. Sleeping in my chair and watching TV with Mr. Man he shows me dogs on TV. I don’t like TV Gibson it hurts my ears. Lady Let’s take a nap. It’s too hard and cold here to sleep. Here Gibson I’ll sleep on the top of my bed and you sleep at the bottom by my feet. You are very good to me. It‘s my work. Remember I told you I am a working dog. Mr. Man told me to be a good dog and take care of Gibson. Now let’s nap. That was a short nap but the woman is back with our leashes and food. Okay you guys eat your dinner. Your master will be here for you tomorrow. Gibson perked up. Lady The woman said Mr. Man will be here tomorrow. But I don’t know that word tomorrow. Do you Lady? Yes I know tomorrow. When Mr. Man takes me to my bed he says here’s a cookie go to sleep I’ll see you tomorrow so tomorrow is after you sleep so let’s sleep fast. As soon as the lights came on Gibson began to bark. Lady. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Let’s go home! As they came through the door way. There was Mr. Man. Lady! Gibson yelped there’s Mr. Man. Gibson, Lady let’s go home he called to them. Gibson you get in first. Put Lady in! I can’t stop barking Gibson said. I’m so happy to go home. Mr. Man must know he hasn’t hollered stop barking. This is the best ride ever! Okay you guys get out I’m sorry I had to leave you but I knew you would be safe there. Okay Lady. Go see the horses. Lady walked off down the hill to the horses. They neighed to her as she approached. Gibson was right behind. He didn’t know what to do he tried to follow Lady. Be careful Gibson the horses don’t know you. Be careful they don’t step on you. Lady this smells great. Gibson raced back up the hill following Mr. Man into the garage. He jumped as high as he could when he saw Linda. She caught him in mid air. Gibson licked her face it tasted like salt. Everything was good again.