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The Peace Of Bark

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by Dennis Carroll

Novellas and short stories are copyrighted by Dennis Carroll, 2013.
E-mail inquiries and comments to denniscarroll@denniscarroll.me
Criticism and comments may be posted on the Smashwords page.
All stories are published only in Ebook format and are published through Smashwords. The stories are available through most Ebook providers. "Seek" will be published in hardcover format after e-publication of all of the short stories.

Foreword

“The Peace of Bark” is a 4500 word story about a rescue dog and his effect on the lives of various humans who crossed his path. The story is entirely fictional and none of the anecdotes actually happened. The story was inspired by my youngest daughter, her husband, and all of the dogs they have rescued. Although this may not be their story, surely there is a story there worthy of being told. And until its telling, this is my best effort to make a case for all the abandoned, homeless animals out there worthy of a life with dignity and respect. They give more than they take.

The title of the story is twice taken from the dedication. Once so obvious you can't overlook it. Once so abstruse, it will never be found.
A complete list of my short stories can be found at www.denniscarroll.me.

The Peace of Bark

 

The Keeper was furious!

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There was time, a long time ago, that the Keeper did not even know how to be furious. He was always laughing. He laughed with his dogs-in-rescue, he laughed with his volunteer interns, he laughed with the society ladies on his Board-of-Directors, and he laughed with the good people wandering in to maybe adopt a dog. He laughed because he thought he was doing a good thing, because he was saving a small part of the world, not a big part perhaps. But to each of the dogs in his rescue facility, it was all the world they had. And the Keeper was saving them. Most of them anyway.

There were always a few that could not make it. They were too old, too arthritic, or too brutalized to find a forever home. These the Keeper would keep for six weeks. The animals would be shown respect and compassion. Tended and well fed they would have some semblance of a good life for a time.  The Keeper always asked the vet to come on a Friday evening; late on a Friday evening. He wanted the dog to be given every minute possible to find its master. There was always a chance, some small chance, that someone would stop by late, by chance to want a dog that others might find too old, too arthritic, too brutalized.

The vet respected the Keeper and his facility. Undoubtedly there was far more, and much easier money to be made than operating this place. But the Keeper had convinced the ladies on the board how much good they would be doing and how the dogs would love them; just pay the rent and the utilities and there would be even more stars in their tiaras when they went to that big gala in the sky. The constant posturing, kowtowing and shameless flattery added only a little heaviness to his soul.
The vet did these things without pay. He considered his service to be a blessing to the animal. You must consider it to be so or how could one do it. It is an act of love and compassion. It is. The vet was always quite careful and quite good. There was never any pain for the animal. Almost never. It was possible that the animal's leg would twitch at the last moment. If the needle went into muscle rather than vein, then before the dog died, it would scream.

And scream. And scream. And scream.

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The Keeper was furious because the new intern had not gotten the telephone number of an almost sure adopter for the Irish Setter. You must always follow up on a "I'm sure we will adopt it but let us come back later."  Always. It does not take much to bring them back, just a "What time shall I expect you?" or "The dog is quite excited because it knows it is being adopted." 
The Keeper settled into guilty silence. "It was my responsibility. Not the intern's. Because of my carelessness, a dog will die. Because of me."  Another weight. The Keeper gruffly told the intern to go and tend to the dogs. Tending the dogs always soothed rough feelings.

 

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The entire short story is available for purchase online at Smashwords.com.