“A Dog’s Tale“, Mark Twains’ short story of living an honorable life as seen through the eyes of a dog always blurs my vision. The misunderstood deed of the self-sacrificing family dog results in a caning by its master and permanent injury to the dog. For a moment the dog considers running away but the pain of leaving her puppy is too great and she returns expecting to be punished further. Sadly her sacrifice later in the story is even greater.
“A Dog’s Tale” flows smoothly like the chorus of a good song but enters your heart because the soul portrayed is so innocent and faithful. This story was the one I was to share at the book club today. The minute hand was moving quickly and it would be a smidge past four when I arrived. My delayed departure was due to a one pound eight ounce foster-kitten that entered our home a few days ago. Her warm purring body draped over my shoulder was difficult to detach and when I did she started climbing the backpack I planned to take to the meeting. Finally with my backpack and me free I turned to unlock the door. At the same time the playful kitten darted from the kitchen into the mudroom and under my heel. A chilling high-pitched screech burst from the kitten and I retracted my heel and froze. The kitten headed at full tilt for her safe place, the bathroom where she spent her first two nights and the home of her food, water and blanket. Guilt ridden and fearful, I walked softly toward the bathroom.
“I’m sorry sweetheart. Are you OK?”
From my kneeling position at the threshold I saw her cowering between her food bowl and the base of the pedestal sink; two itty-bitty eyes wide open and filled with fear. My repeated apologies and pleas did nothing to move her physically or emotionally. Her eyes never blinked. Then I started to wiggle a small paper bag back and forth near the doorway and she pounced on it. I scooped the bony tan and white fur ball up in my right hand and placed it on my palm. I spoke softly as I palpated the miniature paws and legs searching for signs of pain. She seemed fine physically but still a little shaky about our relationship. Or maybe it was me that was worried about the relationship; either way we spent enough time together to resolve any bad blood and rule out broken bones. Of course by then the minute hand was beyond reasonable and the book club would have to hear the story, “A Dog’s Tale”, another day.