You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #56 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.
The prompt asked that we write a story based on three words:
Cat | Dawn | Flower
I couldn’t come up with a cat story, so I did a different take on the prompt. It’s partly inspired by real events and my own mixed feelings about owning a pet.
* * * *
In my haste out the door, I almost tripped over the white furball just outside my front step. Button eyes stared up at me as if to say: What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for you.
A dog, or more accurately—a puppy, its fur looked fresh and cottony-soft.
I knelt down to it with the instinct of someone who appeared comfortable with animals, but I wasn’t. I never had a pet as a kid. Now living on my own, more than a few friends had advised me to get a cat or a dog. I never wanted the responsibility.
The small dog seemed harmless and docile. It pushed its head against my palm affectionately when I pet it. Pretty darn cute. It wasn’t a stray. That much, I could see. No tags, no collar, but someone had to be looking for it.
I almost forgot the reason I opened the door, headed for my morning jog. I stepped outside to see if the dog’s owner was near by. Maybe he got away during his walk. The street was empty. No surprise. Dawn on a Saturday was usually too early for my neighborhood.
When I swung back toward my apartment, the dog boldly walked through the open door.
“Hey!” I cried out. It stopped and turned to face me, his head tilted to one side. Something in me melted. I wasn’t going to make my morning run.
My friend, Doug knew all about dogs, having owned different breeds over the years. He dropped by immediately when I called him.
“Great temperament,” he said, crouched on the floor with the dog in his lap. “It’s a male, and he’s a Westie, a breed from Scotland.”
I smiled as the dog jumped out of Doug’s lap and pranced around my apartment like he owned it. “I don’t know where he’s from, but he’s full of confidence for a little guy.”
“Here’s some food for him.” Doug handed me a large plastic bag filled with kibble. “I’m guessing he’s no more than three months.”
I sighed. “What should I do? I can’t keep keep him.”
Doug pushed himself off the floor. “I’ll call my vet. He can check if there’s a microchip. In the meantime, create some posters for the neighborhood. He’s a beautiful animal, someone’s bound to miss him.” He handed me a roll of plastic bags.
“Poo bags. You’re going to need them,” he said.
The vet found no microchip but said the dog was otherwise healthy and happy. I stuck up posters around the neighborhood and placed an ad in the “Found” section of the online local paper. I even scoured the Internet for announcements of missing dogs but found none that matched the puppy now making himself at home in my apartment. It felt odd to share the space with another living creature, but here he was. Out of some need to give him an identity, even a temporary one, I called him Scottie—an unimaginative but safe name until his owner came for him.
Scottie never barked, and in many ways, behaved more like an independent cat. He snuggled beside me on the couch when I watched TV, his little body warming me like an electric blanket. He let me know when he needed to go outside to do his business. He was the perfect pet really, one I wished I’d had as a kid. I decided if no one came to claim him after ten days, I might consider adopting him.
The morning before my self-imposed deadline date, I received a call from someone claiming to be the owner of Scottie. The man spoke enthusiastically about the dog, described his appearance perfectly. He said his young daughter had left the door open one night and the dog must have slipped out. I told him to come by in the early evening to pick up Scottie, citing errands I had to run during the day. I lied. When I hung up the phone, my throat burned. How the heck did I become so attached to this animal in less than two weeks? I crouched on the floor and Scottie jumped around me playfully, his cue for me to pick him up. I hugged him to me and felt tears sting my eyes. The wetness rolled down my cheeks onto the soft curls of Scottie’s head.
My last moments with Scottie were bittersweet. When a little girl of about seven entered my apartment with her father, her face lit up and the dog ran to her. She squealed and the puppy squealed louder. Her joy only cranked up the excitement for both of them. The dog belonged to her. There was no question about it. My own feelings that Scottie might miss me, even just a little, faded immediately.
“Looks like he’s happy to see you,” I said to the girl. “What’s his name?”
With glassy eyes and a wet face where the dog had licked her, she looked up at me, “Flower,” she said.
“Oh …” I tried not to sound judgmental. “What an unusual name.”
The father took me aside. “Yeah, it’s not a great name,” he said, “but she wanted to name it after a dandelion because of his fluffiness, only she can’t say the word dandelion.” He shrugged. “We definitely have to come up with a better name.”
I smiled and watched his daughter play with her puppy, then something hit me. The dog was leaving, but I wanted him to leave with a small piece of me. In a hushed tone to the father, I said, “I called him Scottie for the time he was with me. He seemed to like it. Maybe that’s an option.” When the dog heard me say his name, he perked up his ears and barked before running to me.
“Wow, he does seem to respond to that name,” said the father. He looked over to his daughter. “Sweetheart, how about calling him Scottie?”
“I like the name,” she said in a high-pitched voice.
Scottie returned to his rightful owner, and my space was returned to me. While watching TV later that night, I instinctively placed a hand on where the puppy had taken his place beside me. The chair seemed almost too big without him now. A thought of getting a dog crossed my mind, but it was a fleeting thought. For more than a week, I took care of a puppy. I even got to name him and did a good deed by reuniting him with his owner. I had been a dog-sitter, and that was more than enough … for now.
Have you ever had a pet? Any strange pet names? Feel free to leave a comment or ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you. ♥