Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Free At Last!

The fear in her heart raced with itself.  The pounding wouldn’t subside as people in white masks, showing only their eyes reached for her, grasped her limbs with their gloved hands and pulled her towards them.  She could hear them murmuring but could not decipher the words although the tone was a mixture of sadness and hushed excitement. They took her from one receptacle and placed her in another, the first one hard and cold and bright, the second warm and soft.  As they closed it her heart continued to race.  Where was she going?  Who were these people?  Where was she going?  What would they do to her?  What hadn’t been done to her?  Was she in for more pain, more uncertainty?  She felt the earth move under her, and finally the soft hum and gentle rocking put her to sleep. 
Awake and alert as soon as the vehicle stopped she gazed in the darkness for some sort of sign that all would be good.  A door opened, then another.  Light spilled in to where she had been held, caged and alone.  At least she thought she had been alone.  Sounds and smells assaulted her senses, as if this were the first time she opened her eyes or took a breath.  There were others!  As they tried to communicate, her captors began unloading the receptacles, one by one. 
Out into the warm sunlight on a grassy yard, they were set down, one by one.  The openings to their cages were opened all at once by a personal attendant.  And that voice!  Oh, that soft voice!  It sounded so gentle!  Not harmful at all.  She looked around.  Then she looked down.  What was this?  She sniffed the air.  It smelled so good!  Not like chemicals or soap or metal!  As she stepped out, cautious but curious, she grew wondrous as to what was on the bottom of her feet.  Soft and cool, she laid down upon it and was still for just a moment.  She looked around.  The others were watching her.  All of  them.  No one else had ventured out yet.  She was the first, and danger be damned!  This soft floor felt marvelous and she rolled and squirmed and memories, distant though they were, pooled up from somewhere within.  She had done this before, as a young puppy, with her brothers and sisters!  She had forgotten, after years of torture that she was a dog, not a thing to be prodded and shaved and hooked up to machines.  She was a beagle, of proud heritage, with a nose that could smell amazing things that no other living being near her could.  She stopped wiggling for a minute and looked up.  Her tongue hanging out of her mouth, her eyes bright. 
“Woof!”  she exclaimed.  It came out as a whisper, as her vocal chords had been cut years ago to keep her quiet in the lab.  (No one wants to hear dogs bark and cry while they do experiments on them.)  But it was a woof nonetheless and the others heard her and so had their attendants and all of them, with their eyes bright, seemed to smile – human and canine.
“Good girl!” someone said, tears running down their face. 
Another beagle stepped out of a carrier, then another.  Freedom had come, although they had no idea that they were waiting for it.  All had lived to see the day when they could walk on the grass, sniff other dogs, and run and play.  At the moment most were shell shocked and it would take days, months, maybe even years for them to trust the hand attached to a human being, but with time anything is possible.  It was possible for these dogs to survive horrors that we wouldn’t want to inflict on our own.  Now we could give them the life, the love, and the care they so deserved.

She looked up and closed her eyes against the brightness and the warmth of the sun.  It was a good day to be alive.  It was a very good day.  Her heart was full and no longer racing.  With a wag of her tail she set off to make new friends.