General Non-Fiction posted December 5, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Prose Potlatch 12-4-16

Please Don't Leave Us Here!

by Mary Wakeford

It wasn't often Princess and her pack, a shepherd mix and an aging wiener dog, were treated to a car ride at the same time. The big brown dog was excited and sensed it was going to be a great day for the pack.

Perhaps Master was taking them to the park, or to his parents' home for a weekend visit. The gray-haired woman always had the best treats for them--often baking her love for the trio into tasty handrolled treats in the shape of dog bones. The pack loved their grandma.

Princess knew they weren't going on a trip to the vet--Master would NEVER attempt to take three of them at once for shots or teeth cleanings.  He wasn't that brave, or crazy. Yes! Princess was excited to learn of the fun Master had planned for the pack on this glorious morning!

The excitement was palpable. The trio of tails wagged exuberantly as they headed out the front door for a ride in the dogmobile--a white minivan.  With eagerness and excitement, neither Princess or her pack noticed Master's wife crying at the kitchen window as they drove off, heads hanging out the backseat windows, ears flapping and snouts taking in every scent literally 'blowing up' their olfactory neurons as they drove away from the little brown house with the big fenced yard on West Windsor Street.  The tiniest of them popping up and down from alternating sides of the car every few minutes beneath the two larger dogs stationed at the right and left rear doors, respectively.

Princess always posted up directly behind her Master--she called it 'rear shotgun' and the other pups never challenged the seat assignment. Princess loved Master from the moment he chose her from a large litter ten years earlier, tying a piece of pink yarn around her neck, and promising her a forever home.  A few weeks later, he returned with a bright pink leash and a real collar, and drove her away from her mother and siblings to the little brown house and big yard they had now shared for a decade.  Master taught Princess tricks and good manners over the months and years that followed. One day Master met a lady with two dogs of her own. The couple eventually married and became a big happy family with an abundance of love, and lots of dog hair.

Pack leadership had come easily to the now aging Mastiff-Boxer mix. She was a prideful dog, aware of her intellect at an early age. She loved the human members of her pack beyond measure, and the children when they came along a few years later.

Fifteen minutes into the drive, Princess sensed something was wrong. They were not heading in the direction of the park, nor was it the way to her Master's parents home. Master was unusually quiet, seemingly ignoring his backseat passenges.  He was expressionless and didn't respond when Princess gently nudged the back of his head with hers from her position behind him in the backseat.

Nearly an hour later, the minivan came to a stop. Princess didn't recognize the building they parked in front of. It wasn't their veterinarian's office, and it definitely wasn't a park---and where was all that barking coming from? It sounded like a hundred dogs but without a single canine in sight. It wasn't joyful dog-park yipping either, this was different--plaintive wailing. Master told the trio he'd be right back, then headed inside the ugly building.

It was summer in Arizona. The mini-van was getting hot, and her pack was starting to panic. The wiener dog began whining, and the shepherd mix had begun panting heavily. Princess sensed their anxiety and knew she had to maintain her cool, though she was beginning the freak out inside. Her instincts never betrayed her.  Princess sensed something was terribly wrong.

A few minutes later, Master reappeared with another man. She heard the beep-beep of the doors being unlocked and stood up across the backseat in wonderment of the second man's presence. Master opened the hatchback of the mini-van and collected their leashes. He placed Princess's pink leash around his shoulders before walking to the right rear door.  Without expression, he hooked a leash on the wiener dog's collar, then the shepard's before handing both dogs off to the strange man.  The stranger walked the frightened dogs toward the building, then disappeared inside.

Princess became outwardly anxious when her pack was led away, and began to whimper. Her Master attached her pink leash to her collar, cupped her face, kissed her and told her he was sorry.  With that he tugged on the leash and Princess jumped onto the hot pavement with her aging hips, and followed him in the direction her pack had been led a few minutes before.

Once inside, Princess was told to "Sit" while Master filled out paperwork. She looked around the room for the wiener and mix. She spotted them inside metal containers against an opposite wall. They were shaking and the little one was crying, both looked to her for direction and hope. She felt helpless not understanding the situation and what was happening.  

For the first time in her life, Princess felt like an unfit Alpha.  She glanced toward Master for a sign of optimism. He avoided eye contact with both Princess and the man behind the counter processing the paperwork.

Soon, two more strangers appeared behind the counter. They carried the stench of fear, dog piss, betrayal and matted fur. They spoke briefly to the guy opposite Master now punching something into a computer.  Princess heard someone say, "Get them processed" then something about "Behavioral assessment."  Princess wondered what that meant as the weiner dog and shepherd were pulled from the cages and taken through a doorway before disappearing from her line of sight.  Both tails were tucked in submission between their hind legs.  The wiener left a trail of yellow pee.

Princess sensed it would be the last time she'd ever see her pack.

A few minutes later, Master unhooked her pink leash as the man behind the counter placed a cheaply manufactured nylon noose high around her neck. Weighing in at 110 pounds, Princess was a force to contend with. She refused to come out of her sit command, and strained against the tension of the strap, defiant at being led away. After a few minutes of pulling and rustling, she sensed fear in the stranger.  That's when he directed Master to place her in the cage. Master complied.


When Master secured Princess in the cage and slid the pin to the locked position, he turned on his heels, exited through the glass door.  He proceeded across the parking lot and never looked back when he drove their minivan away from responsibility, and three broken dogs.

Princess was processed like the two before her, and eventually moved to a metal and concrete slab where she remained alone for nearly two months. It was hot, the place was loaded with ticks and a stench from the chemicals used to keep the blood suckers in check. 

The incessant nervous yapping of dogs day and night worked on her last nerve.  Princess worried constantly for the welfare of her pack--the wiener dog and the shepherd mix.

In the first few weeks of imprisonment, Princess searched the eyes of the every human passing her cell in search of their next perfect dog among the hundred or so.  Princess studied every face for the familar eyes of her Master, hoping he had come to his senses and returned to remedy his terrible mistake. 

As the lookers approached her cell, they would laugh and comment how big she was--how long her tongue stuck out.  Then they'd remark that she was too old, adding the all too familiar "Large breed dogs tend to die when they hit the decade mark."

It was always the same cutting remarks, and Master's face was never among the passers-by.

Princess hoped someone had enough heart to at least adopt the wiener dog and the shep--she'd be okay checking out of this nightmare existence.  In fact she welcomed death, but the strong alpha wanted more for the others.  Her old bones hurt from confinement. Her heart ached with her loss of family. Her soul was ready to depart for Rainbow Bridge. 

Forty-one days later, a woman and her daughter approached Princess's cage. The woman read the story taped to her cell aloud to her daughter.  It told of the dog being owned by the same family for a decade.  It declared Princess a well-trained couch potato who was great with children, but tended to be dog selective.  This was the first time Princess heard what her Master had written about her that fateful day at the counter.  

The raging woman remarked the dog was named by a man who once loved her, called her his princess, then dumped her when she no longer fit his lifestyle or his move, like so many of the others on death row.

The big brown dog with a black mask stared straight away at the wall and awaited the usual remarks--too old, too big, too ugly.  

But then something extraordinary happened.

As the woman continued to rage, she also spoke of the wonderful dog in the very last cell, of the very last building they walked that afternoon. She was angry at the family who dumped the beautiful senior dog, and all the others in the depressing facility. She felt for the people who worked there and had to deal with the sadness every single day.  Then the woman who raged walked away with her daughter.

Princess sighed deeply before closing her eyes. At least this one didn't laugh at her oversized tongue.

A few minutes later, Princess heard the familiar voice of the same woman nearing her cell.  This time the voice was accompanied by the rattling of a worker's keys.

Princess's metal cell was unlocked for the first time in forty-one days. The woman and her daughter entered, and sat on the cement floor next to the big brown dog.  After a few minutes of silence, the woman leaned in and kissed Princess on the top of her dome head.

They sat quietly with the dog for over an hour. Before leaving, the woman cupped Princess's face, looked into her eyes, and whispered, "I don't know how I'm going to pull this off just yet, but you are going to be my dog, and I promise I will never, ever, let this happen to you again."

Four days after the Mastiff-Boxer met the woman who raged, Princess walked beyond the glass door and into the parking lot where forty-five days earlier, the man in the minivan left the pack.

Princess took in the fresh air and silence before being helped into the backseat of the sedan by the woman who promised to love her and never leave her.  

The woman kept her promise.  

One year and three months later, the woman who once raged laid on the tile floor of an examination room at the vet's office with her Princess and cried as she kissed her dog over and over again. 

The woman told Princess how much she loved her, reminded her what a great dog and exceptional alpha she was, and that she would miss her terribly.

Then the big brown dog with the black mask and beautiful oversized tongue was released from the pain of cancer with a needle prick. 

Princess then began her journey to Rainbow Bridge where she hoped to meet up with the wiener dog and shepherd mix she had so desperately missed.


Story of the Month contest entry


Write a fictional story staring an animal. It can be tame, wild or even imaginary.
Take your time, don`t worry about speed.
Remember, show don`t tell, POV, setting, etc. All we have learned

This story is written as Point of View fiction and based on a true story of a beloved dog named Princess. I was the raging woman.

Though the details of Princess's surrender are unknown, I was told she was surrendered with two other family dogs because the family was moving. I have no idea what happened to the rest of her pack. I can only hope they were adopted by loving families.

I can also tell you Princess never stopped grieving for her first family; people so undeserving of her love even after abandonment.

I have mourned the loss of many of my pets over the years-- each taking a chunk of my heart when they left.

Princess, I still grieve for. Perhaps because of the situation she found herself in; losing her family and pack of ten years. Alone in a cement and metal cell laden with ticks and incessant barking surrounding her for over a month must have seemed like an eternity.

Princess got under my skin and into my heart as I read her story in front of the very last cage two buildings later.

Three days later, my husband's last words to me as I left the house for the doggy intro with our dogs, Moose and Sophie-- "I want no part of this. It's a bad idea." He was right, but he tried to convince the wrong person.

Princess was my biggest pet challenge following two attacks on Sophie. But in her, I found my strength in dealing with a crisis situation that I couldn't find my way out of by simply returning her to the same place her decade long family had dumped her.

I hired an animal behaviorist, and in keeping with my promise to her, she was required to wear a muzzle. Princess never fought the muzzle, seeming to understand she could not be trusted to not attack our female, another alpha, without it.

Princess had surgery for a tiny mast cell tumor that appeared on her back in April. She was put to sleep the following September as the cancer ate through her, causing neurological problems. Princess bonded with a tiny kitten that we rescued from the desert. They both seemed to find solace in each other, both having been dumped.

I brought Princess home on my nephew Ryan's birthday, and will always believe Ryan sent this troubled girl to me. If there is such a thing as Rainbow Bridge, I know Ryan was there to greet her. Perhaps that is why I grieve for her still. Sail on silver girl. You are well loved and missed, still.

Born: 7/3/2002
Reborn: 6/28/2012
Died: 9/10/2013

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