Can I Keep Them?

In Their Voices
By Sante Matteo, May 2019, Updated May 2021
Heather Miller/Unsplash

Heather Miller/Unsplash

I like the people looking at me through the bars, and by now I’m used to the other dogs barking. Here come two people: a male and female; not young; friendly faces, soft voices. I wag my tail and wiggle hopefully. They take me outside for a stroll through the trails where other dogs on leashes leave their smell. I sniff around and squat and pee a few times to add my own smell. But what’s this? We’re not going back to my cage, but to where the tables and machines are. They’re talking to the familiar people who give me food. Now they’re taking me to another outside, where the ground is hard and full of those big metal cages that rumble and move fast. I get nervous as we approach one. The female people gets in the back seat and slaps her knees, urging me to get in. The male people tries to push me in. I’m afraid to go inside that unfamiliar cage. I sink to the ground, limp with fear and despair. The male people picks me up in his arms. I struggle to get away, but don’t want to hurt him with my paws. He puts me inside, next to the female. I can’t stop trembling. The man gets in the front, and the cage rumbles and starts to move. I quiver in terror. The woman strokes me and talks kindly. The motion and whirring become less frightening. I stop shaking. I put my head on the woman’s lap. She smiles and says something to the man. He looks back at us and chuckles, pleased. I think they like me, and I like them. I snuggle closer to her and hope I get to keep them.

Postscript: Zoe, a three-something black Lab mix, is the loving owner of Susan Bennett and Sante Matteo, retired professors, whom she got to keep.

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 97: Spring 2019

Sante Matteo is a retired professor emeritus, Department of French and Italian, Miami University, Ohio.

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