WINNING ENTRY - Pets Aplenty Competition with Malcolm Welshman
Rescue by Sue Hoffmann
The first time I saw your face, you were behind bars. You don’t remember it, do you?
I wasn’t looking for you. Truth to tell, I was searching for someone older, someone with brown hair, not black. Someone who did not in any way look like Jodie.
You’ve heard all this before, haven’t you? Still, you never seem to mind my repeating the story and I never tire of telling it so I’ll continue.
Jodie had been with me for fifteen years. I was devastated when she left. The place was empty without her, and I was empty, too. I was going to let it stay that way, give myself time to adjust, but the aching void was too hard to bear and so I went searching.
The smell was the worst part, that and the noise. There were two cell-blocks – concrete structures with concrete cells. No windows, no exercise area, just a bed in each small chamber and only room enough to allow limited movement. Oh, the wardens were kind enough. They kept the place as clean as they could and at least you were warm and off the streets. And that was your only crime, wasn’t it? Being homeless.
So, there you were, staring out through the bars, and the look of longing in your eyes drew me closer. Blinded by tears for Jodie and the horror of this awful place, I reached out a gloved hand and you caught hold of my fingers. Your grip was gentle – a plea, not a demand – and I was yours from that moment.
But there was to be no happy ending that day. Try as I might to convince the head warden that I could offer you a new life, your sentence was not complete and he would not release you early. Walking away from you was one of the hardest things I have had to do. As I glanced back, you watched for a moment and then simply returned to your hard bed.
If the next four days seemed an age to me, they must have been an eternity for you. What did you think each day as you were fed the same unappetising food and each night as the lights were dimmed and you were still alone? You couldn’t have known that I would keep my promise and return for you. But return I did, as soon as it was permitted, and when I left this time you were with me.
Thirteen years you’ve been here now, and every day I’m thankful that you took hold of my hand. Jodie was a big part of my life and I loved her. You have not replaced her but you have made your own home in my heart and I cannot imagine being without you. We are seldom apart for long. When I walk in the woods, you are there. When I rest, you stay near me. If I have to go out without you, you greet me with delight when I return. You never reproach or judge me. You forgive my mistakes and you share my joys and sorrows. In truth, I believe I was meant to find you and though I rescued you from your prison, you rescued me from grief and despair.
You sit here now, watching me, your soul in your eyes as it was when I first saw your face, and I reach out to you as I did then. You sigh contentedly and wag your tail, and I smile.