The side door to our beautiful house slid open, and the cool spring air rejuvenated my aging body. Mom had clipped off what seemed to be twenty-five pounds of my winter coat before going to bed, and I slept all night like a newborn puppy. The two small steps leading the way out seemed easier today. My nose lifted up into the air, I smelled so many wonderful things and my body wasn’t holding me back from jumping and running like I did when I was adopted seven human years ago.
The cool air and the warm sun even brought Mom outside to do things she hasn’t done in months! Today she held a can and made all these funny metal things shine like new for the plants to sit on while I explored the barn. Then I rolled and wiggled in the cool grass, my bones and aches not holding me back. I felt more alive today than I had in months. I stood. I shook. I listened. I saw…a little friend Mom calls squirrel! I ran with all my might, and it didn’t hurt. He scampered and I sniffed, hot on his trail. He ran through the barn, around the back, and into the woods. Stopping at the fence, I sniffed. He was so close! I wandered back and forth, hoping he would come back on this side of the fence, when suddenly I found that the rain had washed out a small area under the fence. Today my body was agile enough to crouch and crawl under. I wanted my squirrel friend to come to me, but I could go to him!
The light was dim in the woods, but I could smell my little friend. He was somewhere close. My paw stung, and my side did too, because of the razor-sharp thorns on these blackberry plants. Only feet ahead, I found trails made by deer that were mostly cleared of these prickly bushes. As I wandered these trails, my nose took in all the wonderful smells of all the small critters. I paused, hearing Mom call my name, but I needed to follow the trail to avoid walking into more plants that make my fur turn red and my paws sting.
The black concrete road Mom doesn’t allow me to walk on was the only way I could get home, but was I supposed to go left or right? Turning my nose up in the air, I smelled something familiar—four-legged friends called horses. They didn’t smell like our horse friends, Rosie and Holly who live in our fields, but these horses would point out the way home. So, I turned right onto the road, staying off to the side the best I could because Mom doesn’t like me on these hard, blackened trails.
Houses sprinkled left and right where children played and mothers planted, I paused but no one could tell me which way was home. I traveled onward. When a man sitting on the front stoop grabbed his bull dog and tossed her into their house, I stopped. Wondering why she was barking at me and if she would stop, I could have ask her to help me find my way home. I traveled onward. I passed a house with several cats. I love cats! I have three cat friends of my own at home. I wandered into their yard, thinking they could help me. Apparently, they didn’t know and didn’t like me. I didn’t know why!
The big ball of light was fading and dinner had come and gone, so I kept walking. I had to find my way home. Dark turned to light, light once more turned to dark, and I didn’t stop walking. I had to find my home.
My bones hurt, my tummy was grumbling, and my paws were beyond pain I had ever imagined. I could only think of home—Mom, Dad, my cat friends, horses, the boys, and mostly food. The treats! My food! My bed!
Then I thought I had started hearing things, people calling my name, but it faded once more. Two darks, four missed meals, and no bowls of water anywhere, but I found a bunch of deer and had a snack on what Mom calls, “Leave it!”
I was hopelessly lost! I wanted to go home. I could hear Mom’s cry—she kept calling my name—but then it faded too.
Wait! I heard it again. My paws could hardly carry me and my muscles quivered, but I followed the deer trail out to an opening I’d once walked and walked. The strange sound of a motor paused and started once more, coming closer and closer, then farther and farther until the sound faded.
Wait! It was coming back, and I swore I could hear Mom yelling my name. I had to see. I had to try and get to the clearing.
Mom! Is it really you? My eyes were playing tricks on me again. Were my ears hearing things again?
No!!! It’s really you.
She leaped from the four-wheeled motored toy and fell to the ground as we cried, holding onto one another. I howled, “I am home. In my mother’s arms.”