'Day One' by Emma Bate


Editor's Picks
06 April 2020
Adults and over 13's short story competition entry.

I came into the kennels on a cold day in December, the humans handed me over telling them my name was Stella. They left without a single look back!

Even though it was really noisy with all of the dogs shouting over each other I didn’t mind it, it was better than the other place. Here I had a warm bed instead of a smelly blanket in the dirt, I got two meals every day and my dirty, matted fur was now clean and brushed.

The humans here were different too, they spoke kindly to me and never struck me when I made a mess or chewed a toy.

Every day other humans came by to stare at us and sometimes dogs went off with them all happy with wagging tails, but not me- I kept them away, I growled and hid at the back of my kennel- I didn’t trust humans. I stayed here for over a year, living my life inside a kennel, afraid to let anyone close.

One day two humans stopped outside my kennel, I growled, “Go away!” I barked, but they didn’t go away.

“She’s beautiful” said the lady.

“She sure is” agreed the man.

I heard them talking to the human carer, I heard him tell them that I had been abused and neglected, that I would be difficult and would take a lot of time, hard work and commitment to win over.

The human lady cried as the human man explained that they had the time, they worked from home, they had dogs before, and they were ready for a challenge.

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Before I knew it, I was removed from my safe kennel, handed over to these strangers and taken to a home. Now I had been in a home before, I remember my first place when I was just a puppy before they made me sleep outside, before they forgot to feed me, before they hurt me- it seemed like so long ago now but I remember so clearly- I didn’t know that I couldn’t pee on the carpet, I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to play so rough with the kids, or that I couldn’t use my teeth on the sofa- nobody taught me that.

So here I am in a home again, I’m so frightened, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to be a good dog, I don’t know what these humans want from me so I hid under the table, even though my belly rumbled with hunger I ignored the delicious smelling food placed in the shiny new bowl.

After a while the human man crouched down and tried to coax me out, he tried to take hold of my collar, what was he going to do to me? I growled and told him to leave me alone! But then... oh no! I had wet myself! Now I was in for it, I cowered and waited for the blow... but it never came, instead the human lady appeared and as she cleaned up my mess she whispered “It’s OK girl, it’s just a little accident”. This was very strange indeed; her voice was comforting and kind and not angry- what was happening here? Oh, I’m so confused!

“Did we do the right thing?” said the man.

The lady put her hand on his shoulder and said “It’s only day one, give her time to become the dog we know she can be, she’s one of us now”.

I stayed hidden under the safety of the table until the humans turned off the lights and went to bed, I poked my head out and looked around, I looked at the new comfy bed in the corner and the pile of brand-new toys next to it.

Day one, and I not only had a new home and all these new things, but they had given me a new name too- they named me Hope- I didn’t fully understand, but somehow it seemed fitting.

So, what will day two bring? Maybe I will come out from under the table, maybe I will eat, maybe I will allow them to touch me, maybe I will get to stay here forever? Maybe just maybe.

Write your own dog-themed short story

Do you love dogs? Do you love writing? Does your child love drawing? Are you looking for something to set your mind to and show off your creative skills? Then this is the perfect opportunity for you.

Find out how to enter here: www.yourdog.co.uk/short-story-competition