Where we fit in
The three-year-old yorkie met the sixteen-year-old terrier on an early fall day.
“Saucer just needs a younger dog to play with,” Rebecca told her husband Timothy as she sat Tea beside the terrier. The younger dog tried to wake up the old one with a lick on the nose. It tasted dry and pasty.
“We don’t need another dog to take care of Saucer. She’ll be gone soon and we can start traveling and enjoying our retirement. We can visit the kids and their families.” Timothy stared down at Tea as if she was a stain that would not go away.
This job would be a challenge, Tea realized.
Eight days later, Tea was standing on the back porch waiting for Rebecca to open the door and let her back in. She hoped Rebecca had not forgotten her. It was getting cold. Tea remembered her previous owners as she gave off a shiver.
Those other owners left the front door ajar on a late summer day. Tea took the opportunity to get away from them and various pet sitters who had no clue how to take care of a pet they did not love. Her wild world experience lasted only one night before a tall man, who seemed nice, coaxed her toward his arms. No love there as he shoved her in a cage.
During her days of confinement, Tea hoped she would find a home before the gas chamber found her. When Rebecca came in, Tea gave her a look of someone needing redemption. Rebecca looked like she needed Tea to love and Tea needed that love. Tea was sure she had not made another mistake with an owner. Yet on this eighth day with Rebecca, it was getting late and no one was coming to let her in.
Tea started to yelp and couldn’t stop as panic set in. Her yelps got louder as the neighbor’s back door light came on. Timothy let Tea in and there was no love in his face.
Over the next three weeks, Tea watched Saucer move a little slower, get lost more often in the house, and sometimes become generally confused. Tea felt like she had an obligation and a duty to keep Saucer moving.
Tea kept the older dog active and alive. There was the run around the coffee table until Tea caught up to Saucer and they changed direction. Tea played tug with Saucer’s favorite rubber toy giving the older dog a chance to win each time. It was that or watch more teeth come loose. The long days of lying around and doing nothing became days of long strolls in the Sun along the fence line of the backyard looking for squirrel.
Soon, Rebecca spent more time tending to the tiredness of Saucer who played too hard with the youngster Tea. During recoveries, Tea stayed with Timothy who had no time for dogs and chased Tea away.
“I need another dog to balance things out,” Rebecca told Timothy one cold winter day.
Really? Tea wondered where this came from. Saucer was happy when Tea gave the old dog a run. People should really learn to speak dog.
“What’s another dog gonna do? How are we going to visit the kids with three dogs? How are we supposed to travel when we have to spend money taking care of these dogs?”
“You don’t like traveling.”
“I was doing it for you.”
“I’d rather you got me another dog.”
Tea ducked behind the sofa to avoid this tone. On her way, she passed Saucer asleep on the couch unawares. Being deaf and blind had its advantage.
Rebecca added, “The kids and their families can come here and stay in their old rooms.”
“They have homes and rooms of their own. We need to visit them.”
“I don’t care. I need another dog to take care of if it’s just going to be us.” Tea thought Rebecca should be taking care of Timothy. Peering around the corner of the sofa, Timothy looked as old as Saucer.
“I don’t want to use my retirement years taking care of dogs.”
“I need another dog. I’m getting another dog.”
When the stale air got quiet again, Tea emerged and looked out the window. She watched Timothy enter a small shed outback where he had a workshop. Soon, the man produced loud, grinding noises.
Rebecca called this third dog Cup. Another yorkie that was smaller and younger than Tea. The now middle dog Tea watched Cup and Saucer consume Rebecca’s attention. One was small and fragile and the other slow and needy. Tea was stuck in the middle being neither.
On long afternoons, Tea watched Rebecca and the two dogs sit on the small couch with no room left for her. Rebecca scratched both dogs behind their ears. No one scratched Tea anywhere and she thought how great a nice, long scratch would be. She looked at Timothy who sat in the living room recliner snoring with drool spilling out of the corners of his mouth. Tea jumped onto his lap, licked off the drool, and woke Timothy. Very quickly, Tea found herself hiding behind the sofa again.
Tea could do nothing else but continue with what she thought was her duty. That which was to bark at Cup when she pooped on the rug. Or, run outside to check on the neighbor’s dogs since Saucer no longer sensed them. But, Tea did this with some hesitancy and not quite sure this was her place in the family or not.
As winter ended, Timothy stayed more often in the shed out back using noise to grind metal things. From the cold recliner, Tea watched Cup, Saucer, and Rebecca on the short sofa sit together like a proper family.
On a warm, spring day, the kids and their families visited for Timothy’s birthday. The excitement bore down on Cup and Saucer, yet Rebecca had nothing to do with them. The human family had the priority. Tea stayed with Cup and Saucer like a mother she would never really be. She stood in front of hands reaching for Cup and laid next to Saucer who would not know someone was there.
On the day when everyone left, Rebecca and Timothy along with three stressed out dogs stood on the front porch watching the cars drive away. Tea watched the sunny air melt the dirty snow and she felt stronger with the thaw and a warm breeze ruffling her fur. However, Cup did not know better and ran through a slit in the porch gate. Moving vehicles lived on the black tar before them.
Tea ran with the owners after Cup as Saucer stayed on the porch. A quick bark of the older dog stopped the youngster just before the black tar. Not the middle one who kept running.