Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Open Letter: Little Bit

I left my mother when I was very young. I don't even remember what she looks like. It doesn't really matter now, anyway, because I'm dead. No, I wasn't shot like I've heard my mother was. I was given something that made me go to sleep, and I just never woke up. I guess I should start at the beginning...

My first owner was a mean, mean man. He had a lot of people coming and going from his house, but he never wanted them to go in the shop in the backyard. That's where we were, and we weren't supposed to let anyone through. I was just a pup, but the older dogs showed me what to do - find a shady spot when the man's not around, if you can, and take it easy. If you sense him near, you had better be at full attention. If a stranger approaches the yard, bark fiercely at them until the go away. I think one of the older dogs even bit a stubborn stranger once.

We're not kept on chains, but the yard is small and dirty. Anyone caught trying to dig under the fence is beat with a wooden fan blade. I've never tried to get out, but I've watched another dog try. He whimpered for days after he got caught. We're fed once a day, if we're lucky. The man throws out some dog food and whatever spoiled food he has. The older, bigger dogs always get to eat first. You're lucky if there's any left. Being younger and smaller, I'm lighter on my feet. I quickly learned that, if I wanted to eat, I should make a dive for the food the moment the man throws it out. I can usually get down a few mouthfuls before I hear a growl or feel any teeth.

One of the few people that the man brings through our yard always gives me a pat on the head when he walks by. He's not so bad, so I wonder why he's here. They always disappear into the shop for hours before they reappear, the man stopping to give me a pat on the head again, and then they leave, our owner carrying boxes of something for the man. This is what happened on the day I left my first owners house - business as usual, until it came time for the stranger to leave. He slipped a rope around my neck and took me with him. I guess I was part of the business transaction or something. My new owner said it was because I was too friendly to strangers.

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My new owners house was different. It looked and smelled nicer, and the man took me inside. This man didn't live alone. He had an entire family - a wife and three kids, two boys, one girl. They gave me baths and fed me food out of my own bowl. They never gave me spoiled food. 

When I was about a year old, they decided to breed me because I'd have pretty puppies. I had a litter of five. They kept one, a male. I had not had to share food in this new house, and I had been here a long time. When I wouldn't share with my pup, they started putting me outside while they fed him. A few times, they forgot to let me back in, and I'd have to spend the night outside. 

I got tired of being alone in the yard, so I'd wander off. They didn't seem to notice, and if they did, they didn't care. This is how I came to leave this home. 

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I was off checking out the neighborhood when I saw someone coming toward me. The next thing I know, I'm in a little box and I can't see out.

When the world stopped moving, the door to the box opened. Gentle hands lifted me out and placed me in a cage. There was fresh water and food. I could hear other dogs around me, but all I was really interested in was the food.

I didn't stay in the first cage for very long. I was moved into a large room with lots of other dogs. Sometimes people would come through and stare at us, maybe stop to pet one or two of us. People would take us out once a day to clean our cages, and sometimes more if they had time to play with us. We get fed once a day, and that's definitely the highlight of our day. You have to be careful and keep your food bowl in the middle, or your neighbor might try to snatch your food.

I stayed here a while, but not as long as I did with my last owners. A woman came to take me home to live with her other dog that she said was a "pit bull" like me. I didn't know what that meant, but if it meant I could go home, I was fine with that.

When we got to the woman's house, she put me right inside with her other dog, also a female. The other dog didn't like me in her territory, and I couldn't blame her. I was another mouth to feed. I was competition for resources. The woman made a big bowl of food for me...or rather, us...right away and placed it between the two of us. Knowing how quick food goes, I dove right in. The other dog immediately tried to push me away, and I jumped on her. That's how you get fed, you push the competition away and swallow what you can, as fast as you can. The woman screamed and batted us apart.

I was back at the place with the cages the next day. So much for that home.


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I spent another week in a cage. Some people took pictures of me and told me that I would find a home soon. I was tired of being in a cage. I longed to lay in the grass, roll in the dirt, just feel some sunshine on my face.

I got my wish one day when some people came in a led me out of the cages. I pulled hard, thinking I was about to have my freedom, when I found myself in another cage, only smaller. I thought about protesting, but just gave up instead.

I was in a car, in a cage. It was moving, so maybe it was headed to freedom. The car stopped once during the trip to let me relieve myself and stretch my legs.

The next time we stopped, I was put in a different vehicle. I wasn't sure of the new person who was apparently taking me home, but anywhere was better than a cage, right? The person was handed some money for my "expenses," they said.

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My new home was something of a shock. There were several other dogs there, all outside. There wasn't a fence, only chains. I was chained to what I think was a trampoline frame. I was given a dirty bucket of water, but no food. The grass was tall, and the yard smelled strongly of waste. It made me sort of miss my first home. At least there I was free to roam the confines of the fence. Here, I could move no more than a five-foot radius. The choke chain around my neck made straining against the tether painful.

I'm not sure what the worst part of my new home was...the chain? The fleas and mosquitoes that tormented me day in and day out? Being out in the weather? The hunger? The thirst for fresh, cool water? The loneliness? It was almost maddening to be restrained to that small area. I tried to entertain myself, but what could I really do but just bark? Dig? Scratch? Sleep?

Even though I'd get drenched and cold when it rained, I loved it because it meant fresh water to my parched throat. It meant puddles to play in, something different for my bored brain to focus on.

There were children at this home, but none of them ever came to play with me. There were a few dogs they played with, but somehow I just got left out.

I really thought this was it, the place I was going to live for the rest of my life. I was ready to either let myself be broken or fight my hardest to get away. I didn't have to make that decision, because some people showed up one day and took us all away. They said the people would suffer for what they did to us, and rightly so. I was terrified to see a place with cages again, but I was glad to be out of the bugs and have plenty of food and fresh water.

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The last anyone heard about me, I was transferred from the place with the cages to a different one, supposedly a place where they don't put down dogs like me. Let's hope for a happily ever after. :)



Just a friendly reminder: Although some of the themes portrayed in the Open Letter series may be based on true events, the tales are fiction and should not be interpreted as fact.

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