“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
I didn’t want to wake up. Surely this must be a dream.
The soft warm blanket protected my little belly from the cold concrete and there was water in a bright shiny bowl next to my bed.
Soon the front door would open and Mama would set me out a bowl of tasty food to eat.
But it wasn’t a dream. I had found the desire of my heart.
“Well, make that desires” I thought.
I had found a safe, comfortable home and loving parents. The shady spot under the cedar tree by the grassy field was fast becoming just a memory.
The door opened and there Mama stood. The morning sun shining through the back window made her silver hair look like a halo.
With her kind face and silver hair she still looked like an angel to me, but she had said her name was “Mama”.
There’s my little boy. Mama’s got some breakfast for you. Are you hungry this morning?
At the sound of her voice, I just couldn’t keep still. My feet started dancing and prancing, and my tail started wagging faster and faster.
Settle down now, settle down. Move back now so Mama can set your food bowl down.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you” I was saying, but evidently all that came out was “oink, oink, oink”. Mama laughed and shook her head.
That’s right; I had heard Mama tell Daddy that I sounded like a pig.
“He must have been raised by pigs,” she had said. It seems that all this time, what I considered clear and polite speech sounded like a pig to others.
No wonder that when I tried to have a decent conversation with other dogs, they would just look at me funny and laugh.
That’s why I would always use my loud “STAY AWAY!” bark and make them run. It must all have something to do with the things that I couldn’t remember.
Oh well, it didn’t matter to Mama and Daddy that I was different.
“That’s my boy. That’s Mama’s little pig dog”, she said as she patted my head while I gobbled down my food.
Soon the big round man that I had come to know as “Daddy” would come out, sit in his rocker on the front porch, scratch my head and rub my belly, and tell me what a good boy I am.
Later I would go and explore this new place that was all mine and then lie on the cool porch and nap till lunch.
Yes Sir, plenty of food, lots of love, and no worries. Perhaps all of my bad days were behind me.
A few days later, a strange thing happened. Daddy came outside and went and sat in the big black truck.
Now, this might not seem strange to you, but for some reason Daddy never went anywhere.
He sometimes came outside and would sit in his rocker as he scratched under my chin or behind my ears, but usually I could see him through the window sitting in a big brown chair.
Mama was the one who seemed to always be leaving in the truck and then coming back.
Mama came through the door with a leash in her hand. “Come on Jake, let’s go. Let’s go with Daddy.”
A “leash”! Somewhere deep in my mind a buried memory was trying to come to life. I wasn’t sure if the memory was a good one or a bad one, but one thing I was sure of: ROAD TRIP!
And she had called me “Jake”. They had finally given me a name!
No longer was I just the little black dog with the white furry bottom, but I was Jake. What a wonderfully marvelous name.
A brand new name and a road trip, this was turning out to be the greatest day ever. I got happy feet again and couldn’t stand still.
“Settle down, Jake. Mama’s got to put your leash on. We’ve got to go see the vet.”
Now I remember. Daddy had said not much petting and no playing until I had seen the vet and got my shots.
I don’t know what the vet is or shots are, but if it means that my family will play more, then it must be grand.
I jumped up in the truck and sat down in the middle between Mama and Daddy, ready for this new adventure.
It was a short trip to a white building that Mama called the Veterinary Hospital.
I could hear other dogs barking inside as we pulled up. I guess they were getting ready to play, too.
I started to get nervous about talking with other dogs and them laughing at me, but they took me into an empty room with a little table in it.
Two young girls came in and weighed me and set me up on the table. (I think that they were nurses).
Then a kind lady in a white coat came in that they called Dr. Ann. She had a soothing voice and I knew right away that I could trust her.
She took my temperature and a sample (which I will not go into detail about as it was a little embarrassing), and then stuck three different needles in me, which I thought would hurt but only stung a little.
Dr. Ann told Mama and Daddy that she would have the results back the next day.
They put a pretty, shiny thing onto my collar that they called a license (but Mama called it my bling-bling) and then we were out the door, into the truck and heading home.
This was turning out to be a great day indeed.
I had seen the vet and got my shots, and now there was nothing left to do but play, and play, and play whenever we weren’t eating or napping. Just eating, and napping, and playing.
This little dog’s life was turning out to be really good.
It was hard to imagine that just a short time ago I had thought that I was going to die under the cedar tree in the back field.
It’s funny how things can sometimes change so suddenly.
The next day I could hear the telephone ring inside the house.
After Daddy hung up the telephone, I could hear him tell Mama that my test results had come back, and that Dr. Ann wanted to see them in her office. Something was wrong.
They got in the truck and left with worried looks on their faces. I had never been left alone before in the big fenced yard with nobody home.
I lay down on my blanket by the front door and suddenly felt very alone and very afraid.
Mama and Daddy came home with the worried looks still on their faces and some papers in their hands.
Mama kissed me on the top of my head and Daddy scratched me under my chin as they went inside the house. I could hear them talking to each other in a low voice, but I couldn’t make out what was being said.
It wasn’t until Mama brought Brother home from work that I could hear them explaining to him what the problem was.
Daddy said that the Doctor had discovered that I had heartworms. That sounded funny.
My heart felt fine to me. And I sure didn’t feel anything creepy or crawly inside of my chest like worms.
But Daddy said that it was serious, and that I must be treated right away. I would have to spend two days at the Veterinary Hospital.
The next morning, they put me on my leash and we rode in the truck back to the hospital.
Now that I think about it, I was beginning to feel kind of sick to my stomach after all. Perhaps it was the thought of spending the night away from home and away from my new family.
I didn’t understand. I had thought Daddy said that we would get to play after I saw the vet and got my shots.
Mama had tears in her eyes and kissed my head several times as she handed my leash to Dr. Ann.
Dr. Ann took me and put me in a cage. This was turning out to not be a good day.
It wasn’t long before she came back, set me on a table, and gave me two shots in my back.
After she put me back in the cage, I was so sore and felt so weak that all I did was lie down. I didn’t even eat when they brought some food to me.
I finally fell asleep and had terrible nightmares. It seemed that the cage was bringing back some old bad memories.
The next morning, I was feeling better. I even ate some of the food that they had brought me for breakfast.
I still didn’t feel like trying to talk to the dogs that were in the other cages, but I did join them for some loud barking to complain.
That afternoon Dr. Ann came with my leash to get me and led me out of the room they had called the “kennel”.
We went through a door, and there was Mama and Daddy!
I was so happy to see them, I could hardly contain myself. And then Dr. Ann said something that made everything worthwhile.
She said, “Now, Jake will need to stay inside for at least five weeks in the cool air. No going outside except for bathroom breaks, and then right back in.”
I was finally getting to go inside the little gray house!
Ever since I had smelled that wonderful smell of food coming from the open kitchen window, I had wondered what it must be like inside the big round man and the silver haired lady’s home.
Sometimes I would look inside the window that was by Daddy’s big brown chair but it was hard to see because of the bright summer sun.
I could feel the cool air come through the door when Mama would come out to feed me, and now I was going to get to live inside with them.
When we got to the house, Mama led me right inside. The air was cool even though it was the afternoon.
Instead of hot concrete or dry grass, the floor was soft with carpet that squished between my toes. I went into every room as I found new things to see and smell.
I found beds that should be jumped on and shoes that should be chewed, but I was beginning to feel weak again.
So I just lay down by Dad’s big brown chair while He scratched behind my ears and gently rubbed my sore back. It wasn’t long before I was sound to sleep.
(TO BE CONTINUED)