The last thing Sophie had expected when she began digging in that garbage can was to be knocked senseless by a falling tree branch She had only meant it to be a quick stopover to get at some leftover bacon, but now she was trapped in these people’s garage. They seemed well intentioned, but their efforts were unnecessary. She could take care of herself.
The traces of blood on her leg told her that she must have been injured in the blast. She licked herself clean. It wasn’t the first time she’d been hurt. She’d had run-ins with animals, both wild and domesticated, many times before, and the wounds she’d suffered had healed within minutes. She knew it was strange, but it certainly wasn’t any stranger than a talking dog.
The explosion itself had been odd as well. Even now, Sophie couldn’t smell any chemical residue or smoke. It was more like a huge gust of wind had erupted from inside the house, shattering the windows and knocking her out. While she was unsure if she wanted to stick around in case it happened again, at the same time she was curious about what could cause such a phenomenon. There might be a clue about her own origins hidden somewhere in the middle of this mess.
Regardless, she was stuck here until morning, so she made the best of it and sniffed out a warm corner on the concrete floor to lie down and wait. The rattling of the door handle woke her hours later, and she quickly sat up and stretched. It was a woman who entered, looking haggard from what was obviously a long night without much sleep. She could hear the other dog barking from inside the house, anxious that Sophie had invaded her territory. Sophie sat facing the door and put on her best puppy eyes. At the very least, perhaps she could salvage a free meal out of the situation.
“Well now,” said the woman, “what are we going to do with you?”
Sophie only sat there, waiting with her head cocked to one side.
“How’s the dog?” Another voice, this one a man, came from inside the house.
“She looks fine.”
The man appeared in the doorway behind the woman. “Huh. I could have sworn there was a huge gash in her leg last night. I guess in the confusion, I saw something that wasn’t there.”
“No tags or collar, but she seems calm enough,” she said.
“Probably a runaway, then,” he said. “We’ll print up some posters and put them up this afternoon, but we still have a lot of cleaning up to do.”
“We can’t keep her locked up in here forever,” said the woman. “I’ll go hold Precious, and you put her in the back yard. I’ll bring her some food and water after I get Bobby dressed.”
Sophie liked the sound of that plan. She could get fed and a bowl of clean water for a change, and after when they weren’t looking she could slip away. The woman disappeared back into the house and the barking grew more distant and was then muffled. The other dog, Precious, must have been put in another room. The man was trying to herd outside Sophie like she was livestock, and for the moment she took a submissive posture and followed his cues. It was best to keep up appearances until she was ready to leave.
After letting her out, the man disappeared back into the house, so Sophie had a few minutes to explore the back yard. First she checked the gate for when she needed to make a fast getaway. The latch was on this side making it far easier to get out than it had been to break in last night. When the time was right, she could be gone in an instant.
The yard had all the usual smells you’d find in a family home. The grass had a pungent smell from a herbicide they had used recently to try to kill the weeds that still grew in the corners by the fence. There was Precious and the two humans, plus two other people that she didn’t recognize.
Someone had already cleaned up the shards of broken glass from the shattered windows and placed them in a plastic bucket. Still Sophie would have to be careful where she stepped if she didn’t want to cut her paws. The open holes on the side of the house where the windows had been looked out of place, and there was still no clue as to what had caused the explosion.
When the woman came out with her food, Sophie trotted up to her, her tail already wagging of its own accord. She quickly gobbled up the kibble, and washed it down with some water. The woman was still watching her, so Sophie decided to lay down on her stomach and wait until she left. It would be better if she could get a head start in case there was any pursuit.
“Anne?” the man called out from one of the gaps in the wall. “When did the glass guy say he was coming again?”
“Not until after ten.” As Anne walked over to the window so she wouldn’t have to yell, the back door opened a small boy came outside. This must be the “Bobby” she had heard mentioned, His eyes lit up as he saw Sophie, and ran up to her. He giggled as he petted the top of her head, and Sophie had to admit that it felt nice to be stroked like that. She reached up and licked the bits of cereal and milk from the boy’s face.
“Bobby! What did I tell you about not petting strange dogs?”
“Can we keep her?” asked Bobby
“Get back in the house this instant,” said Anne and led the boy inside.
Sophie was beginning to wonder if she shouldn’t stay a little longer. It would be nice to have some people around who weren’t chasing her off with rocks and broomsticks. There would be plenty of food and she could rest for a while instead of being constantly on the move. She laid her head down on her paws to mull it over and took a nap in the morning sun.
To be continued…