One dog came to the front of the cage as he walked past. He’d walked and scanned each occupant for suitability. Only this one came up. One dog. Tiny. A tiny, little dog with deep dark eyes and pointed ears and an upright tail.
Drago flipped up the face of the ticket on the cage. Timid? Not this dog. Not suitable for children. Was she a biter? Breed: Tenterfield Terrier. Terriers were smart, weren’t they? Noisy, yappy, diggers? He didn’t know enough.
Such a tiny little dog. Too small. If he held his hand out flat, it could stand there quite comfortably. It would be – like everyone else – intimidated by him; afraid. He needed a big dog, a man’s dog, a real dog.
Drago continued down each aisle. Dogs of so many different shapes and sizes and colours. They all barked and ran and jumped up at other people, but not for him. None of them came to the front of the cage when he walked up. Not one.
It took a long time, but he walked back down every aisle, looked into every cage on his way through, then turned around and went back. He reached the cage where the tiny dog was. Where he thought she’d been. A young girl was in the cage with a hose and a broom, cleaning. No dog.
He checked the ticket. Right place. The same tag.
The dog was gone. He was too late. Someone else had got it.
Drago fell to his knees. He didn’t realise until the crack of bone on concrete. A big lump stuck in his throat, sank down into to his chest, froze on the way down to his belly to sit like an iceberg.
“You okay, mate?” the young girl stood with the hose in one hand while the other twirled the water off. “Mister?”
Drago looked up. He felt dizzy, drained.
“The dog,” he managed through a mouth that didn’t work properly. “The dog?”
“Yeah, here she is – just scared of hoses and water, so she hides under there.”
The large bundle of blankets at the back of the stall moved, slid down as the pointed nose emerged. Ears erect, bright eyes open as she tilted her head; one second and she ran to the front of the cage and licked at his hand caught in the wire.
“I think she’s yours, mate. She hasn’t come to the front for anyone else. Most people scare the life outta her. She’s had a tough life.”
That meant she was the perfect dog for Drago. Two peas from very different pods, and now pack.
The girl opened the cage gate and Drago leaned over and scooped her up.
“We’ll go home now, shall we, friend?”
Copyright Shannon Hunter 2017