Linda knelt down and peered through the chain-link fence. Looking back at her was a black and white lump with coffee brown eyes. She wasn’t anything like the striking animal Linda thought she would find. Her coat might have been pretty once, but now her hair was clipped short and was bone dry. One of her eyes bulged out slightly, as if she had cataracts. And her nipples were so distended they nearly touched the ground. Linda had never seen anything like it.
The shelter tech opened the door, reached in, picked up the dog, and set her down in the aisle. She smelled like a combination of fear, confusion, and despair.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel turned slowly and approached Linda. Fleetingly, the white tip of her black tail swung to one side and then the other. ‘At least she’s friendly,’ thought Linda. ‘She’s not cowering.’ She petted the little dog gingerly. In a gentle voice, the tech reached out to caress the Cavalier, too. ‘That a girl.’ A moment passed and Linda, hesitating, picked up the dog and sat her on her lap. Almost by instinct, the dog leaned against her.
Linda thought about her promise to the kids. She had assured them that if and when the rescued Cavaliers were available, she would get in line to adopt one. Now, here she was, cradling the last dog left. How could she think of leaving the shelter without her?
She looked down at the dog. The Cavalier’s cloudy brown eyes gazed back. Something about her petite little face was pathetic but also endearing. Linda couldn’t resist it.
‘You know what?’ she heard herself say. ‘I’ll take her.’