The light inches up her body, warmth drawing the overnight dew from her coat. She closes her eyes to the frequent rush of stale air and grit, there, in the gravel and blood at the edge of the highway, and waits to die.
For a while she lingered unseen, dozing in the deep grass where they left her, paws and muzzle facing the concrete ramp, watching for their return, waking occasionally to forage the air for familiar scents. Memories come to her in senses, smells of soiled dirt and puppies, the rough bottom of a bowl against her tongue, a metal weight tying her to earth. As day falls away to shadow, a stirring mingles with the emptiness in her belly, urging her to leave the open space before the dark catches up.
Morning brings reprieve from the fractious lonely night, her first without the curled-up comfort of pups and other dogs. She creeps out of hiding and raises her brown nose to the wind. Buried instincts tap at her brain: eat when you can, conserve energy, mask your scent, stay hidden; she obeys and follows her stomach to the rotting bags of garbage.
Camouflaged in the foliage of the tree line, she watches the truck leave before lumbering toward the food mounded on the dimpled concrete. She eats quickly and returns to the dugout hole beneath the hull of an old fishing boat. Drowsy and full she naps, curled around herself in the soft dirt, sleeping away the restless daylight hours. As the sun ebbs, brackish drafts carry sounds of fishermen calling out to one another as they prepare to leave. She’s tempted to follow their voices to the smell of fresh fish, but predators are stirring; she burrows deeper in the makeshift den.
The night air along the river is thick and sweet with decay and danger roiling in waves off the swampy woods. Faint faraway rustling catches her ears and she freezes as the excited stench and musk of the hungry pack draws closer, zeroing in, hunting her. In terror she flees the boat, bounding across the turnaround road over broken glass and debris, adrenaline spurring her up the ramp to the noise and blinding lights. Disoriented, she pauses at the entrance to the roadway, turns left to the oncoming traffic and the world goes dark.
The sun is higher now as she tries to raise her head, pain rebuking the movement. She shivers, willing the benevolent blackness’ return.
A shadow falls across her, unseen hands caress her head and thin broken body. She feels herself lift from the pavement, crushed and exposed bones grinding and screaming as she’s laid in the truck.
A tinge of strange dog wafts around her; she presses closer to the blood-soaked comfort embracing her as her body goes cold, veiling itself in shock.
Nausea scolds her awakening, a haze of white and silver, murmured voices and acrid odors assault her. Through slit eyes she considers a face, but she is so tired; she sleeps.
An unnatural numbness confounds her as she repeatedly tries to stand; dizzy and shaking, she gives up and sinks to the cold floor.
This room smells of cats, but this bed is soft and deep. Someone sits beside her, rubbing her head and offering cheese. She really likes the cheese.
It is difficult, this altering, this learning to be again. She hops, once, twice, and goes down; contemplating the gentle shade before pulling herself up to continue her journey.
Looking back to the woman for encouragement, she wags her tail lightly and wrenches forward, slow and awkward towards the patch of sunlight a few steps away. Exhausted, she makes it and slumps to the soft sweet grass, rolling to her side, the warmth blanketing her body. She sighs, closes her golden eyes and gives herself up to the healing light.
Copyright © itsa5doglife 2017
Note: Sandy Sue has found her forever home through Honoring Faith and Hope Rescue in Houston, Texas. Sandy was abandoned at a dangerous dumping ground by a river, hit by a car, but then rescued. Unfortunately, the injuries to her leg were too severe and she lost her back leg but she has taken it all in stride and is a loving and happy girl.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering a dog through Honoring Faith & Hope Rescue, please visit http://www.hhfrescue.org and fill out an application. Thank you for reading Sandy Sue’s story.