When stopping at the end of the long, dusty, rutted
driveway my jaw tightened at the sight of the puppies. I glanced at
Sue. Her hazel eyes were fixed on the sight too, four little black
skeletons scavenging through a pile of trash. They paid no attention
to my friend and me getting out of the truck. Normally
three-month-old Doberman Pinschers would have bombarded us with
greetings, but obviously hunger overrode playfulness.
Rags to Royalty
Copyright 2018 by Paula Drake
run-down farm house door opened. “Bonnie and Sue, just what I
needed, a visit from old friends,” Wendy said.
We plowed through piles of junk getting into the
house. I was embarrassed for her. Wendy and I had been close friends
for many years. Sue only knew her from summer visits.
our friendship I made excuses for Wendy’s weaknesses, but the
disgust I felt over the condition of those pups would surely strain
we exchanged greetings my friend from California, asked, “Why
are those puppies out back so skinny?”
that’s their breed. They are supposed to be paper thin,”
Wendy said, quickly changing the subject.
Sue glanced a, “likely story” expression my way.
visited for an hour. After watching Wendy light one cigarette after
another I knew what Sue was thinking, there’s money
for cigarettes, but not for dog food?
our way out we stopped to pet the puppies. Three slept in the shade
of the lean-to barn, but the dusty fourth plodded over to us. His
sweet little tongue gently licked my hand. I reached down to pet him,
tucking my long brown hair out of the way.
“Hi dusty; I bet you’re a beauty under
that sod,” I said, scratching behind his caked ears.
we got back to the ranch house Sue asked, “Give me Wendy’s
phone number; I want take over some dog food.”
we just bought some,” Wendy said. “But thanks for the
Sue sighed, and hung up.
the vision of those pathetic puppies is going to haunt me all the way
back to L.A. Please, see what you can do for them.”
I told her I would, and I did.
couldn’t get back to Wendy’s for a week, and when I did
she wasn’t home. One puppy had survived. He stood teetering on
his legs looking up into the windshield. I opened the truck door,
swooped him up, and said, “If you are going to die, fella, I am
going to see to it you die with a good meal in your tummy.”
I bathed him; spoon fed him, and put him on a blanket
in a cool spot in the kitchen. I got a little warm kiss on my hand
with his head not even lifting off the blanket. I said a prayer. I
heard my husband Frank enter the house. I hurried out of the kitchen.
don’t say anything, please, until I explain why there’s a
puppy on our kitchen floor.” His eyebrows rose. “Remember
how upset Sue was a week ago over the puppies at Wendy’s? And
how she begged me to check up on them? I told her I would. Today I
drove over to Wendy’s. She wasn’t home, and there
teetered one puppy left alive. He barely stood up. I scooped
him up to give him at least one meal before he died,” I
explained, gritting my teeth for Frank’s reaction.
stared at me, took a deep breath and entered the kitchen. His mouth
dropped open. He squatted in front of the pitiful puppy. At the sound
of Frank’s voce, “Hi there Buddy,” the pup’s
tail hit the cabinet again and he kissed Frank’s hand. Looking
at the tiny heap of bones he nearly lost it. I seldom saw Frank
misty-eyed but I did then.
you may have saved this little one’s life.
next morning I held my breath as I turned the kitchen corner afraid
of what I’d see. To my surprise he raised his little head, and
a valiant wag hit the cabinet. “Hey, buddy, you’re
hangin’ in there. Wait till I tell Frank!”
Day after day the dusty cocoon opened revealing an
emerging ebony beauty with a flawless body. He soon looked like a
gaited thoroughbred stallion sprinting throughout emerald pastures, a
perfect picture of a regal Doberman Pinscher.
and I were caretakers for a millionaire’s cattle ranch–50
lush-green acres. Our house, though quite a nice two bedroom home,
couldn’t compare to the “big” house on the hill,
but we cherished our home. In the twelve years we had lived there the
owners had visited only twice. Loraine, the business manager for the
estate, came up from Phoenix occasionally to swim and take R&R in
the big house.
The first day she saw “Raven,” my name
for the puppy she had a fit. “Where did you get that beauty?”
she asked. I told her the story. She grimaced, hand covering her
circled, pranced, and plopped a ball at Loraine’s feet,
playfully showing off.
Bonnie, may I buy him from you? Please?” she pleaded.
“No, you may not buy him, but you may have him.”
put an old blanket on her backseat and a bowl of water on the floor.
I called him.
sweetie, it’s not as if I won’t see you again,” I
said, mushing into Raven’s face. “Loraine will bring you
back often.” He kissed my cheek and willingly scooted up into
Loraine’s car. When they drove away a piece of my heart drove
away too. But I knew Frank was right, two dogs, a cat, a bird, a
horse, and two goats were enough.
My yearning for Raven turned into absolute delight the next time I
months passed when Loraine’s Lincoln swung into the driveway.
There perched stately in the front seat glistening sat Raven. His
strong sleek neck was adorned with a jeweled collar. He greeted me
with those precious kisses then bounded off over the pasture.
heart swelled as if royalty had arrived.
that afternoon I called Sue in California. “Are you sitting
down? First, grab a tissue, because I have a Rags to Royalty story
Story: I am Sue in the story; Bonnie and Wendy (fictitious names) are
I am a published freelance writer. Two recent credits:
fourth place winner in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writer’s
contest 2017, and finalist in the 2018 Arizona Author’s
Contest. I am a retired public school teacher and musician.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)