This is a short story I wrote for the Mane Chance Writing Competition, unfortunately it didn’t win but it was an interesting writing exercise as I don’t normally write about animals.
It’s actually a true story and happened to me while I was living in Naples in 1999. Sixteen years ago! Poor little dog is almost definitely dead now. Wonder what happened to him. I still think about him.
The Day I Met You
I haven’t lived here for long, so I wanted to explore. I work as an English foreign language teacher. It’s OK, it lets me travel around and keeps me in cigarettes and pizza.
I’ve lived here all my life; I was born on a street somewhere. Born hungry. One of many, one of fewer who survived. My mother protected us as well as she could when we were too young and venerable to look after ourselves. One day my mother just didn’t come back with food, we never saw here again. I had a couple of brothers and sisters, I’ve no idea where they are now. I look after myself, I find food where I can, I sleep where I can.
I’m just going for a walk, I’ve got my cigarettes, and off I go. The weather is beautiful today, I’ll just finish my coffee and then it’s time for home. I can see you running towards me. Why me? I’m just like everybody else. You brush against my bare leg as you run past, then stop. I stop as well and turn to face you.
I need to find food today, I hardly ate anything yesterday, I can feel myself getting weak. I can smell something, I’ll go this way. I accidentally brush against you. I’m dirty, I know. I smell, I know. You’re probably disgusted. I freeze, expecting the familiar kick. No kick. That’s a relief. You’re looking at me. Why? Are you planning to hurt me?
My mum had always told me, a dog needs to trust you before you can stroke it. So I crouch down and hold out my hand just in front of your nose, letting you decide how close you want to come. You can smell me, decide for yourself if you can trust me.
What have you got in your hand? Food? No. You smell nice anyway. I can sense friendly people and bad people from their scents and you have a friendly scent. I can trust you. I’ll come closer. We can be friends.
I knew you’d trust me, dogs always do. I sometimes think we’ve got a special relationship. That’s it, come a little closer and I’ll stroke your head. Your hair is soft, you’re a bit dirty but you don’t smell too bad for a stray. You’ve just got a strong smell of dog. You’re cute though. OK, it’s time to go. Nice to meet you doggie.
What’s that? You’re stroking my head. That feels nice. I had an itch there, but you got it for me. I thought I was filthy and disgusting, that’s why no one ever touched me or gave me food. I like this. It makes me feel happy.
I’m walking down the road when I hear a faint scraping of tiny claws on the pavement behind me. You’re following me, aren’t you? Running to keep up with me on your short little legs. There you are next to me, you’ve caught me up. You’re my little companion, out with me for a walk. Come on then, let’s go.
Where are you going? I don’t want you to leave; I don’t want to be alone again. Wait. Stop. I’m coming too. You’re not walking very fast. I’m tired and hungry but I’ll keep up. Are you deliberately walking slowly for me?
There’s some grass just up ahead. I’m going to have a cigarette, so I’ll sit with you for a while. That’s it, roll on your back and I’ll scratch your tummy. You’re very cute. I can see that your hair was white under here, once upon a time.
Thank you so much for stopping, I needed a break. We can go on in a minute, I just need a little rest first. That thing you’re burning smells terrible, what is it? You’re very good at stroking though, I’m just going to roll over. Oh yes, that’s a great idea, scratch there, oh yes and again.
I’ve finished my cigarette so I’m going. Are you going to follow me again? I sort of hope you will, it’s nice having you walk with me. Umm, you’re not coming, you’re not getting up? You’re going to stay there in the sun, aren’t you? That’s OK, it’s up to you. It’s been nice meeting you.
Are we going already? Give me a few minutes, I’m still tired but I’ll get up and come with you. Go on ahead, I’ll be there in just a minute.
You’re up! You are coming with me? That’s great news, we can walk along together for a while longer. Wait, why are you running down that other road? I can’t go that way, I live this way. I can’t catch you or pick you up, you’re not mine. OK, I suppose this is goodbye.
I know where you’re going, it’s down this road I’m sure, I’ll run on a head, that way I can have a quick rest while you catch up. No, wait, you’re not coming the same way. Where are you? You weren’t following me. You must be down the other road. OK, I’m coming. I’ll catch you up.
You’re back. I’m so happy to see you again. Come on, let’s go. I bet you’re hungry. I’d get you some food but it’s Sunday and all the shops are shut. Let’s see if I’ve got anything for you at home.
You wouldn’t believe how hungry I am. Are we going to have something to eat when we get back to your house? If I had a house and some food, I’d share it with you. You know that, don’t you?
Welcome to my house. Everyone’s out today, so come in. You are quite dirty actually, I’ll give you a bath. Then I’ll do you something to eat.
What are you doing? I can hear water running. What’s this? No, this is what they call a bath, isn’t it? It’s not actually that bad. I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
I’m afraid the only food we’ve got is pasta. I don’t know if you’ll like that but let’s try it anyway.
I am so hungry I would literally eat anything. Wait a minute! What is this? Umm, I’m really not sure about this. OK, I’ll try it. It’s not too bad. Thank you so much, I feel much better now.
You look so comfortable over there on the floor by the window, relaxing. I’ve never had a dog of my own before. I wonder. No, I can’t. What sort of life would you have? I’d have to lock you up every day and just leave you in a flat. You’re used to being free, doing what you want to do. Your life isn’t an easy one but it’s yours. You live here, you’re from here. I’m just a visitor.
This is the best day of my life, I’m so glad I found you, and that you found me. I feel so at home here with you. We’re going to be friends forever.
No, really. I can’t keep you. It wouldn’t be fair, not to you and not to me. You need to go. I need to take you outside.
Going for a walk again already? OK, if you want. I see you’re the active type, you like going for walks. That’s fine with me. I’m a dog after all, I love going for walks. Where are we going by the way?
OK, this is a crowded street; we’ll probably get separated here. Let’s go in.
There are so many people here, I hope we don’t get separated, I’m not too sure where you live, I’ve only been there once. It’s OK though, I’ve got your scent I should be able to keep track of you.
That’s it, run a little bit ahead of me, just in front of that group of people.
I’ll check out the road ahead, see what’s happening up there. I’m so excited, it’s so great to have a friend. Look, I’ve started wagging my tail again. We’re going to do so many things together. Life has just got so good for me, and for you too.
I’ll stop here and cut quickly across the street. You didn’t see me, did you? I’ll walk back up the hill now. You’ve lost me but I can still see you.
Wait. Where are you? I can’t see you. Where have you gone? Is this you? No, different smell. Wrong leg, that’s not you either. No, I can’t find you. Where are you? I’d only just found you.
I’m watching you. I see you running up to different people around you, sniffing them, and then moving on to someone else. You’re looking for me, aren’t you? You’re hoping you’ll find my scent again. I have to leave you now. You can’t stay with me. It’s been a wonderful day. I’ll miss you. We were going to be friends forever.