A Pet Fable
By Edward Ahern
He padded over to where she was feeding. I need to ask you something, he thought.
What? Wait till I'm done with this mush.
Prince stood motionless. He wanted to tell her she was eating right next to where she shit, but knew it was puppy-like. He also wanted to call her Queenie, which is what the owners called her, but knew she hated that name.
Clawbitch, do you wonder what life is like outside?
She said nothing until she finished feeding. Of course, you buffoon. I ran away when I first came into heat, but they trapped me before I could copulate. Then they took me to sharp-knife-human, who cut out my breeding parts.
He looked at her through only one eye, not staring. Her fur had thinned and matted into clumps that sagged over an increasingly gaunt body. She was gradually dying. I escaped from the owners once as well, when I was still young.
So why are you here?
I looked for other dogs, a pack maybe, or a man-family camped outside so I could run free, but saw only an occasional dog tied to its owner with a cord. I tried to eat squirrels and rabbits, but didn't know how to catch them. After three days I was starving and slow and a human caught me with a net. I couldn't get rid of the choke chain around my neck, and the net-human knew where to bring me. Then sharp-knife-human cut off my testicles. I have never known a bitch in heat.
Clawbitch started to stretch, but stopped, the sinuous motion made her joints hurt. She stared at him expressionlessly. We were not meant for this, Prince. Your race- compact with men was to warn of danger and help in the hunt, living free on the edge of camps. Cats came to men to roam as they wanted and kill the men's vermin, plus an occasional bird. But now we are all caged like freaks and forced to live as animate toys for the humans.
But we live long and well.
Long, yes. Well, never. I see in your eyes that you know of my coming death. I will escape again, while I can still run.
But you're too slow now to catch mice and rats, let alone a bird.
Yes. But I will stalk anywhere I wish. And perhaps instead of starving I would get to have a losing battle with a coyote. Humans think their pets crawl off to die. How stupid. We crawl off to at last live.
Two feedings later, when the human with dugs came into the house, Clawbitch slipped out unnoticed. Prince didn't bark. Clawbitch should have a good death, a better death than his own, for he knew he was a broken slave, unable to run away again. He would die in a corner of his house-cage or in a last visit to the sharp-knife-human.
- - -
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty five years they are both out of warranty. Ed has had forty six stories published thus far.
A Pet Fable
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