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Children of Canine
I’m SHAGGY, my appearance appalls onlookers. I’m never combed, my hair never lays flat but once. Because I wander and travel on concrete roads, my nails are short and black as coal. I’m seen as a sport, a hooker to other strays, who are desperate and want a piece of me. I’m alone and unwanted by others’ love. My very masters shun me when I outgrew my cuteness, when I was too old for them, when I wasn’t their center of attention any more but a chore and a mirror of regret.
Eventually, I was overpowered…Too many courters, like flies on garbage, followed me. Too many came at one time. I tried to run and hide in the forest and behind homes. No help came except for the cold streams of hose-water whenever the pack came too close to the people’s homes. That just made them more aggressive and irritable. The courters wanted to finish their business with me and go. They wanted so badly to be inside of me, to expose me and break me down. I had no protection. I was alone, helpless, and outnumbered. Inevitably, my belly became heavy and my skin rougher in areas and softer in others, like baby skin. Besides a hanging underbelly, my appearance still appalled others and made them ever more appalled and regretful that they DIDN’T PUT ME DOWN SOONER.
No home to return, I scrape around the backs of other homes and tackle down vulnerable trash bins that seduce my nostril; the sweet scent of kitchen leftovers and crumbs from plastic wrappers and sauce from noodle cups and chicken wrappers lure me. Delicious! I continue living like this for 3 more months.
There’s this petit Asian child that occasionally lingers high above in a porch. I see her clear as sun, but I think she doesn’t see me for my appearance is not of one color but a collage of shades: coal, soil, muddy brown, and dashes of rubble.
She never seems to speak a word, if so very rarely. She is neither white like rice nor red like clay, not even yellow like banana; but brown like caramel. Her hair, black like olive, appears combed, her pose neat, but her eyes are empty when I gaze into them. It is something about those eyes…something that hides a secret but appears to be present yet distant and in reverie. I always stay safe behind bushes where many leaves shelter my ugly disfigure from her small, innocent eyes. I keep my distance for fear that my stench will blow my cover. I fear she might throw rocks at me like many other people have done before.
By dusk, she comes out; I know it is her because I can hear her tiny, caramel feet in rubbery slippers pat against the hard, white concrete in the open garage. The wooden door slowly swings and old hinges creek, she walks in a pace that means she doesn’t want to get caught but doesn’t care if she does. Also, mosquitoes buzzing at my ears let me know it is dusk. Always in her hand are a spoon and a plate. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes! Always that plate is full, a buffet on ceramic platter. She crosses the street, where a hibiscus shrub hides her from the house behind that plant. The movement and sound of spoon scraping against the plate makes my saliva droop, like stretched gum on finger, and my stomach growls like mad, like I’ve got rabies… and maybe I do.
Like a breeze, she has gone back behind the white walls of her home. I smell the food before I can see it. It is in a neat pile, a little hill. I count a few falling leaves before I walk over there. Last time I was careless and rushed, I got into a fix with a few sadistic, fat “ground squirrels” that took a nice chunk of my tail. Now, whenever my tail moves, no one can tell if I’m wagging my tail because I’m excited or shooing flies away from my behind. Those rats were not as merciful and fearful as children suppose.
With a quarter of a tail up in the air, happily wagging, I sink my Canine teeth into solids, for once it is not mush and grime. Oh, I’m so lucky tonight; rice, bones still with fat and chicken bits, brown sweet sauce- what a FEAST!
I can sense my children are happy, though how poor we are. Many times after that first meal, I came back and food was there, in a neat pile, waiting and warm. Once I came, expecting the usual but it was empty, like the inside of bamboos. It was a slap to my face, oh how silly I was to ever think and believe I had found LOVE! A friend! I was desperate. In response to this emptiness, I knocked down her trash bin AND every morning following that. And every morning she came out, half-asleep, half-expecting, my puerile response, my pout, and wishing it to end. Like a child that is stubborn and cries and wines for things he/she wants and pushes your patience, I did this to this petit Asian child.
One morning I gave birth to 5 pups, how tiny they all were, small and wrinkly like naked mole rats. I made no attempts to hush them; I was once like them, noisy and hungry. Innocent, vulnerable, and curious they are to the world around me. Soon, I hear the taps of feet on concrete; I brace my children against my soiled fur. It was just kids. Kids don’t know better.
I hunted for food like old times; the petit Asian child has grown tired and weary of me. No more plates of rice and meat, she must have hated me so much that men, masters of wood, built a new, sturdier trash station for her. Oh, how sorry I am but desperate I was to fill my belly and the mouths of young ones, for fear that I might end up DEVOURING one of them.
3 months I lived off whatever road-kill I found, crumbs I licked, and bins I have uprooted. Slowly but surely, each of my children went, picked up by white fingers and handed to complete strangers from me. My children taken from my breast, even I can’t give them the LOVE I was so deprived of. The last taken was white-furred and had a brown spot over his right shoulder, fluffy and jolly, and quiet. There is so much innocence, playfulness, and curiosity in that child.
Like in the beginning, I am left alone and bare, empty of the company of even my own children. I heard of whispers in my dreams that they were taken to a home, a home even I, their mother, won’t be a part of. So are these people really helping my children or helping themselves? I wonder. Oh, children of mine…Children of Canine.