A New Home

by Hadley Bradley

This is a short story I entered into a local writing competition. The brief was to write about the devotion between pets and their owners within five hundred words. Hope you like it.

I got up and stretched my aching limbs, tail in the air as my front paws kneaded the freshly cut grass. Standing tall I sniffed my surroundings with an inquisitive nose. Detecting no out of the ordinary aromas, I was satisfied everything was in order. Circling three times I settled back down into my spot resting my head on my front paws and closed my eyes.

This hadn’t always been my spot, but for the last two summers and one bitterly cold winter, I’d made it my base. Only leaving to forage for food and relieve myself. Ted would understand. He’d understand I couldn’t be by his side twenty-four hours a day.

An irritating noise woke me from my slumber. Opening an eye and twitching my ears in the direction of the sound, I noticed it was just Bob, the groundskeeper and his wheelbarrow with the squeaky wheel. When would he oil that?

Bob was great, knowing when to keep his distance, leaving me to grieve. However, we always shared a meal every Sunday, savouring each others company for a brief moment, warm in his tool shed. Him drinking a wee dram while I crunched a biscuit before returning to Ted. I flicked my tail as Bob passed showing my appreciation of him. Ted just nodded with respect and continued with his task.

Later that afternoon a long black car pulled into the cemetery were four men extracted a wooden box from its rear. Standing by the car a man comforted a woman who was crying, while a little girl just clung to her father’s coattails looking lost.

Turning, our eyes locked and I could see the sadness in her eyes. She sensed my loneliness and heartache. Breaking free from her parents she slowly made her way over.

“Hello boy. I’m Amy, How are you doing?” she asked.

My tail wagged involuntary as I raised my head. She knelt down and tenderly started to stroke my head. Joy leaked into my heart for the first time in a long while and before I knew it I was lying on my back offering my belly for a rub. Which Amy did with gusto and laughter.

“Hey, mister! Is this your dog?” directing the question towards Bob.

“No lass, he’s not. Max here doesn’t have an owner at the moment. It’s a sad story, since Ted his owner died he’s been keeping a vigil here at his graveside.”

“Oh Max that’s so sad,” said Amy. “You can come and live with me, I’ll love and care for you. Mum and dad said I could have a dog if I found the right one. That was before grandad died, this must be destiny us meeting here.”

“Max it’s time to move on, Ted would want this.” Bob said, adding “You’ve been loyal to a fault.”

“Come on Max, come and meet my parents.”

With joy in my heart, I followed Amy towards a new home.