Monday, February 18, 2013

A Dog With a Hundred Names

Curled up beside the lamp post, bundled so tight that an ant would lose its path, he sleeps. The heavy set fog seems to have forgotten him but he knows better. There are a million corners, far warmer and dry but this is where he has to lie. After all that's his spot. As if a silent alarm has gone off somewhere suddenly the little soggy bundle comes to life. Standing up and stretching he seems oblivious to the cold as he shakes his damp body and with a sense of urgency trots off into the night.

The baker's boy, shivering with cold moves a big bag of breads from the van and sure enough there he is standing with an apparent smile. "Hey Tommy" he calls out to him and he reciprocates by revving up his tail. The baker's boy looks around from side to side and quietly tosses a small roll. He pounces on it and with one last wag of his tail, as if to say "thank you" he was off before any of his friends from the neighborhood could find him. After all when you are him, breakfast is not something you can take for granted let alone share.

The once silent streets are abuzz with life as the sun was now up quite high. There he was back in his spot lying with his head between his paws, eyes closed shut with contentment, after all the first challenge of the day was over and done. Suddenly he jumps up with a shriek and springs around to look back at whoever it was that had stepped on his tail. "Bloody mutt" shouts a man " is this a place to sleep, you bloody mongrel". With a saddened heart and a heartfelt look he quickly slinks away into a quiet alley, looking back now and then to make sure that the man was not behind him again.

Nothing like a nap on a full belly to mend your pride and there he was sleeping away in a cardboard box dreaming of sweet rolls and butter buns and a wagon full of meaty treats jostling by. The sun goes up and over, high in the sky.

"Tiger, Tiger, Where are you Tiger?". The head pokes out from the cardboard box and strains to listen intently then like a shot from a catapult bounds off in the direction of the voice. The scrawny little body jumps up and down in tandem with the jumps of the little 9 year old boy. Like best friends forever they greet each other. The boy that no one plays with takes a yellow ball out of his pocket and the sight of the ball makes him go crazy as he runs around from side to side before shooting off after the ball which is still in flight. Picking it up he races back, drops it at the boys feet and shivers in excitement waiting for the next throw. They play on for quite some time while people on the street gave them but a glancing look. As abruptly as it started playtime was over as the boy could hear his mother calling him. Quickly he took out a cookie from his pocket and with that and a pat on the head, he sped off home leaving him alone again. He was so busy munching on the treat that he didn't notice the shadow of the street brute creeping up near him. A deep throated growl got him back to reality and instantly his tail drooped between his legs as he saluted the neighborhood bully. He crouched on the street in submission while the alpha male took over what was left of the treat. While the bully was busy he slunk away back to the alley and the cardboard box.

As the shop keeper was getting ready to close his shop for the night, he turned around and saw the little scrawny thing looking up at him. "Hey Jimmy, where have you been all day?" He just looks up and wags his tail as the merchant man took out a bin and emptied it in front of him. The shower of gifts was too good to believe butter buns, half eaten rolls and even a whole loaf of bread. The smorgasbord was too much for him and pretty soon he was joined by four more like him.

As the fog crept in through the now deserted streets, not a soul could be seen despite it not even being midnight. In the distance a dog howls sending jitters down the spine of those who are superstitious. The street lamp cast a faint glow and there at the base he was curled up tight, dreamless sleep or a night full of dreams it's something we will never know. He just knows that he has survived another day to be back at his spot.

As we pamper our pedigreed pets with lovely names, we forget the hundreds that scrape out a living on the streets. Where streets are called home and meals don't come easy. Yet their lives are not all about hardships but about love, relationships and friendships as well. Nameless to us, yet they have numerous names based on relationships & circumstances. So the next time you run into 'one' on the street remember, he has a story to tell and in it who will you be.

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