“It’s Elementary” by Marsha Porter
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Dogs.”
When my neighbor’s daughter turned 13, her mom took her to the pound to get her the dog she’d always wanted. The darling Terrier—whom they named “Scruffy”—was a cross between Benji in a gray coat and Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Sadly, his arrival was a bit late in life for the budding teenager. I saw her walk Scruffy all of two times before replacing him and his leash with first a portable house phone then her own cell.
The lack of attention from Scruffy’s adolescent mom led to a series of escapes by the scraggly little pooch. His accessibility to freedom came via unlatched gates, opened garage doors and the ever-popular front door, which was held ajar to greet visitors, repairmen and door-to-door pests. His dart to explore the great outdoors would typically be followed by shouts from either the teen drama queen or her mother. Rescue attempts by Scruffy’s owners didn’t include chasing him and bringing him home. I, however, repeatedly went after the energetic fellow. When I’d get within earshot of the little runaway, I’d bend down and invite him to come to me. He trotted happily to me every time for a pat and ride home in my arms.
Needless to say, Scruffy and I became fast friends. Sometimes, when I spied him exploring the street when his owners weren’t home, I’d take him in and open a can of food, which he wolfishly inhaled.
Five years passed with Scruffy getting progressively less attention from his owners. Suddenly, a “For Sale” sign appeared on my neighbor’s lawn. I learned they were moving to an apartment that didn’t allow pets. Concerned, I asked, “What about Scruffy?”
“We’ll take him back where we got him,” my neighbor answered.
“But you got him from the pound.”
“Well, he’s so cute. I’m sure he’ll get adopted again,” she responded.
Since he was no longer a puppy, I was pretty sure of Scruffy’s fate if he were returned to the pound. I began to think of my hyper Jack Russell Terrier whom I had named “Watson,” wondering if the two of them would get along should Scruffy come to live with us.
With a week before the move, Scruffy was getting out more often than ever. It seemed like the gate and garage door were constantly open now. I asked my neighbor if Scruffy could stay at my house while she was moving. In the back of my mind, I was secretly hoping Scruffy and Watson would become fast friends. The neighbor happily agreed.
When the two canines met, they eyed each other, nose to nose. One of them must have yipped “tag,” because they began chasing each other around the backyard, stopping only for brief rolls or rests on the lawn. My non-stop, action-oriented Jack Russell had finally met his match. The two became an instant Olympic-level relay team that day, and friends, as well.
By midweek, I assured my neighbor that Scruffy was welcome to make his permanent home with me, instead of being dropped off at the pound. She seemed relieved and once again agreed. Later that day, she brought over a half-empty bag of dog food, which was designed for large breed dogs.
“This is Scruffy’s food. We got it when we adopted him. He doesn’t eat much,” she informed me.
I thanked her and asked her to leave it there, on my front porch. After she left, I looked inside the bag and saw giant chunks meant for a Saint Bernard, not a 17-pound Terrier. A number of tiny bugs had also taken up residence inside in what had to be at least five-year-old kibble. I promptly bagged the entire thing in plastic and disposed of it.
When I took Scruffy to my vet, I was not surprised to find out he was underweight and had bad teeth. Eleven of his teeth had to be pulled, leaving him with a softened mouth and an adorable uneven grin. Now he only eats wet food, but he eats it with gusto and has gained 6 pounds.
I thought I’d also have a problem with Scruffy running off to explore, since he’d made such a career of it when he lived next door. Surprisingly, he has never tried. Now, whenever I open a can of food or simply say his name, Scruffy rewards me with an upturned grin and eager wag. With all the love he could want, plenty of food to eat and Watson as his companion, Scruffy has decided to stay. To him, it’s elementary.
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Dogs.” The book features 57 terrific dog-approved tales written by their humans! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1dCBc7w) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/12dsCKY).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.