From the moment she stepped out of her car, I knew she was mine.
She reeked of heart-break and vulnerability. I caught undertones of wit and intelligence and the ability to love beyond boundaries beneath the whiff of weed she tried to mask with a piece of winter mint Trident and Calgon body spray.
I knew, from the way her cheap, worn out t-shirt and dirty jeans clung to her emaciated frame that she needed someone just like me to whip her back into shape.
You see, I was only 7 weeks old at the time but wise beyond my weeks. I knew from the moment she looked into the pools of my glossy dark brown eyes, stroked my dangling, silky ears and kissed the smattering of red freckles across my nose and forehead that she would forever fall under my power.
I watched calmly as she stepped gently from her wheeled metal conveyance – I’d soon learn this is called a ‘car’ – and glance around uncertainly at the farm. She took in the little brown pond that bordered the southwest corner of the property and smiled briefly at the small family of ducks that had taken up residence there. She continued her scan of the landscape and grimaced slightly at the chickens puttering about freely near the entrance of the barn.
She still hadn’t seen me but I knew she was looking for me.
Her eyes lit upon the house; an all-brick bungalow with a bright yellow sun room off the back entrance that overlooked a small apple orchard. She started to make her way up the long, asphalt driveway. The homeowner, Rick, came out of the barn, cleaning his hands on a grungy looking rag.
It was then that she noticed us in our little pen down a ways from the entrance of the barn, in the shade of the orchard.
She didn’t see me right away. My excitable brothers and sisters were blocking me from her view with their jumping, barking and wiggles. She cracked a smile – an expression that seemed almost forgotten on her face but brought a light to her eyes that I hadn’t noticed before. She cooed at my unwieldy siblings as they yipped and yapped, all clamoring for her attention. Her attention was briefly taken up with an introduction to Rick.
“Hey there,” he said as he stuffed the rag into his back pocket. “I’m Rick.”
“Hi,” she said. Her voice was a low, light hum. She sounded kind. “I’m Amy. From the kijiji ad?”
“Ah yes, I remember,” Rick said as he looked us over. “Well, you should know, I have a family coming any minute to pick one out also.”
“Oh ok,” she said. “Is it ok if I pick them up and play with them?”
“Of course! I just have a few things I’m working on in the barn so feel free to come get me if you have any questions.”
“Awesome!” She said as she eagerly turned her full attention to my siblings and I.
Amy crouched beside the pen and laughed softly at the display my brothers and sisters were putting on for her. She ruffled heads and scratched some ears before her gaze fell on me standing guard over one of my more timid sisters.
There are moments that will determine the course of the rest of your life and this was one of them. For Amy and for me.
When our eyes meet, Amy’s light up like a sunrise on a cloudless morning. She smiles with a profound joy. I stare back at her calmly, still offering comfort to my shivering sister. We watch each other over the heads of my boisterous brothers and sisters, sizing one another up.
She walks around to the side of the pen where my sister and I are, reaches in and gently pats the top of my head. I hold her gaze and twitch my tail.
“Hello you,” she says, smiling and eyes welling up. We sit staring at one another, her petting me for a minute or so and silently crying. She offers comfort to my trembling sister but only has eyes for me. Even with all my crazy siblings jumping about, there is a peace in this moment; a mutual sense of peace.
“Do you mind if I pick you up?” Amy asks, as if I can answer.
She gingerly scoops me up and hugs me into her chest, breathing in deeply the smell of my head. She kisses the big freckle on the top of my head and rubs her face into my left ear, all the while tears continue to silently slip out of the corner of her eyes.
“I think you’re the one,” she sniffles. As if there was any doubt.
She puts me down on the lawn. This was my chance. I’d been waiting my whole life for this opportunity. And here, now, this vulnerable, clearly heart-broken and desperate woman has handed it to me. I don’t hesitate. I know something like this won’t come around again.
The moment my toes touch solid ground, I’m off running in the direction of the barn. That’s the sweet spot. I can see my fowl friends in the distance and I know that’s my destination. I don’t look back. I can hear Amy laughing and yelling to me. I don’t care. I can see the gooey, dark goodness that the chickens have left behind on the ground. I can smell its deliciousness. That sharp, earthy aroma that has toyed with me and haunted my dreams for weeks. Now it’s mine.
My mouth starts to water.
As I near my destination, I am overwhelmed by the hubris of this glorious moment and my legs tangle. I stumble and somersault. No matter: I’m back on my feet and running full tilt at my target. Closer. Closer. Closer…
Just as I am about to reach a heavenly steaming pile of goo, I am unceremoniously plucked up by a giggling Amy.
“You are one playful puppy, little girl,” she says. I’m not sure how she knew I was a girl, but that’s the least of my concerns right now.
I stare at her. Hard. Willing her to put me back down. I know she doesn’t quite fully grasp the calamity she has caused but maybe if I play my cards right, she’ll just let me down again.
She nuzzles and kisses my head. Murmuring sweet nothings in my flappy little ears. All the while my mind is working furiously, trying to figure a way to get to the chicken goo.
Rick emerges from the barn.
“So it looks like you found one.”
Amy holds me out, away from her so as to get a good look at my face, to look me in the eye.
This is my chance to communicate all that I’m thinking and feeling. This is my chance to get the goo.
I stare back and as hard as I can I try to send her the message:
“Put me down, bitch.”
Amy seems to register. Her eyes clear and she finds resolve. She heard me! I knew she was the one!
“Yep. This one. I’ll take her!” she says to Rick. She hugs me.
To me she says quietly and happily: “I’ll never put you down again.”