A hand grabs my neck, pulling me away from my siblings—away from the warmth and safety at my mother’s belly. I want to keep drinking and I latch onto a nipple but the hand is too strong.
It belongs to a man who smells of smoke and sweat and something else. Something bad. He picks me up and looks me over and I squirm to get away. His grip on my neck pinches me and I don’t like it.
He puts me on a table. “Darlene, grab this one by the head and hold it down.”
“What you gonna do, Ray?” A woman stands over me and holds me down.
The man’s hands move to my tail and wrap something around it. It’s tight and I don’t like it, but it doesn’t really hurt. “Cut off the blood flow and it’ fall right off. Don’t hurt ’em none. Works real good too.”
He picks me up by the neck again and he puts me back with my mother and siblings. The ground smells like pee but at least it’s warm here. My mother pushes me over to wash me and she smells the thing that squeezes my tail. She licks it for me but it doesn’t feel better. It doesn’t go away.
I wake up in the cold air. The others have left our sleeping spot to go and nurse but I’m not hungry. The thing is still on my tail and it’s pinching me harder and harder. I can’t feel the tip anymore but it hurts where the thing is.
I feel warm and cold at the same time and I’m so tired. I crawl closer to my mother’s belly but the scent of milk is meaningless. I don’t feel like nursing. I just want her warmth.
So tired, I think I’ll go back to sleep here, where it’s safe.
A wet nose nudges me awake. The scents of my mother surround me. Milk, comfort, dirt and pee. There is another scent. A bad one, coming from my tail. It hurts and throbs and I can’t ignore it anymore.
Footsteps pound on the wood above our heads and I smell him again. His smoke-and-sweat scent makes me want to hide in a dark, safe place. I whine and curl up against my mother but she can’t protect me. She can’t protect herself. He grabs me, pulls me away from her. “Look at that—barely hanging on. Ah, well. We’ll set him out somewhere. Somebody’ll pick him up.”
He carries me to away to the big, loud, moving thing and drops me in the back. It roars to life and starts to move. Away from my mother—away from home. I whimper as I try to hang on but I keep falling down. The rumbling voice of the thing vibrates through my body and rattles my bones.
When the thing stops, the man gets out, picks me up and puts me on the ground. It’s white, cold and wet and I can’t stop shivering. He climbs back in the loud thing and leaves me behind in a world I’ve never seen. I cry for my mother but she’s not there. I’m scared and I make myself small. This is a strange place and the pain in my tail is all that I recognise now.
Another loud thing comes by and it stops next to me. A woman gets out. She smells clean and nice and she shows me her teeth but it’s not scary. “Hi, sweetie. What are ya doing out here in the snow?” She picks me up but her hands don’t pinch my neck. They’re soft and gentle and warm. “I bet that rubber band on your tail hurts like hell. We better get that looked at.”
She lifts me into the inside of her loud thing and I’m not even scared when this one starts to move. It’s nice and warm here and I curl up and go to sleep.
I wake up in a new place. The lights are very bright. A sharp, stinging scent tickles my nose, making me sneeze.
“Well, look who’s awake!” The woman is still here and she shows me her teeth again.
The pain in my tail is gone. It’s… There’s no pain but there’s nothing else either. I look at it. It looks shorter but I can’t tell. There’s a sticky, white something in the way.
Another woman walks up to us and she’s wearing a white coat. “You can take her home for now, Becca. She’ll need some serious antibiotics and I’ll probably need to put her under again to close up that wound.” She hands the nice woman—Becca?—a little bag and she reaches for my head.
I duck, but she only strokes my ears and back and it’s nice.
I have a name now. Becca gave it to me. I’m Eve. My tail is shorter, and I had to take a lot of medicine, but the pain finally went away.
Becca is nice and she always has treats but I can’t stay with her. There are always other dogs that need her help.
She found a family for me, though. I’m in another moving thing—on my way to them. I’ll get to stay there forever.
Becca said so.
This story owes a lot to a dear friend of mine, @johnkingwriter. He inspired the writing of this rainbow.
As always, in writing these stories, I hope to raise some awareness regarding the animal welfare issues that are still far too prevalent everywhere.