Story#8: Scenes from the Relationship Between a Boy and His Dog

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I

Joe found Digger cowering under a car one early morning when he was on his paper route.  He was a chubby, little pup with soft puffy fur and adorable sad eyes.  Joe scooped him up and place him in his paper route bags.  Digger snuggled up and fell asleep during the ride home.

II

Joe named him Digger because the first night he left him in the backyard alone, Digger dug up his mom’s flowers and pepper plants.

III

Digger grew up fast, and Joe took him on his paper route every weekend.  Someone said that the dog looked part husky so Joe had taken to attaching his leash to the bike handlebars and letting Digger pull him through the streets.

“I would never do that to you,” scoffed an old man who was walking his Chihuahua one morning.

“That’s because you don’t have a dog like Digger,” Joe wanted to say, but was too respectful to do so.

IV

 Digger had some bad habits.  He loved to roll in cat poop when he found it.  It didn’t help that Joe and his friend Bob egged him on by yelling “Go get em!  Go get em!” every time Digger saw a cat.

V

Joe and Bob were nature lovers and went outdoors whenever they could.  They took long walks to the local lake and explored the wooded areas near a river that fed into the lake.

Digger was their constant companion on these trips.  He grew bigger than a German Shepard, and was a loyal watchdog.  When a spindly pit bull threatened Joe and Bob, Digger took up the challenge.  He leapt into the muscular mutt with a snarl knocking both of them into the lake.  The fight ended in a dripping wet draw, but in Joe and Bobs’ eyes the victory belonged to faithful Digger.

VI

When Joe and Bob got older and more brazen, they tricked their parents into believing they were spending the night at each others’ houses but instead slept at the lake.  Sleeping bags in hand, they trekked into the wilderness and camped on the side of a hill.  Digger came along of course.

It was a restless night as Joe and Bob shivered from the cold and feared attack by either a wild animal or a psycho-killer.  Digger could not sleep either and would periodically run off to investigate a strange sound.

Near dawn, he ran down the other side of the hill with a growl in his throat.  Joe and Bob jumped up to see what he was running toward.  In the clearing below stood a lean and alert coyote.  Digger was nearly nose to nose with it when it scrambled away into the bushes.

Joe and Bob did not want to think what would have happened if Digger had not been there.

VII

Time passed and Joe was busy with high school life.  He traded his paper route for a job at Taco Bell, his bike for a cherry red Nissan Sentra.  He would sometimes go weeks without walking Digger.

Digger, being the kind of dog that he was, did not take this laying down.  He discovered a way to open the fence, and went to look for Joe and Bob.  He jogged the mile and half journey to Bob’s house, careful to look before crossing the streets as Joe and Bob had taught him.  Digger was elated to find Bob home and hoped that Joe would meet them for another adventure.  Instead, Bob loaded Digger into the back of his station wagon and drove him home.

Joe wired the fence to prevent another escape so this time Digger went under it.  Afraid he would again be taken back home in the station, Digger circumvented Bob’s house and made a bee-line for the lake.

Digger had not seen the lake for nearly two years.  It was like a  breath of fresh air.  He charged into the river chasing guppies and tadpoles.  He knocked over a trash can and gobbled down some old cake.  He chased a small flock of quacking ducks until they lifted into the air to get away from him.  It was just like old times, except no Joe and Bob…

VIII

After a day or two, Digger found his way home.  About once a month, he would find a way out and go on another solo venture.  After a few days, he would always come back.

When Joe went off to college, Digger grew anxious.  He whined and barked all the time.  One day it was like Digger had made up his mind.  He all but knocked the fence down and booked it to the lake.  He was never seen again.  Joe was devastated.  So was Bob.  They also felt very guilty for having neglecting Digger for so long.  Going to the lake would never be the same for either of them.

IX

As for Digger, he found a few stray dogs to run around with.  They lived together at the lake where they caused all kinds of mayhem.  Digger missed Joe and Bob, but if he squinted just so under a certain light he could almost see them walking on a nearby hill.  It was about the best he could hope for.

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