Ethans reception a story.., p.1
Ethan's Reception, a Story of Hardship and Acceptance, p.1
By Kathleen J. Shields
While this story is based on real life events and dogs, it is mostly fictional.
Once upon a time in a town far, far away from the closest Wal-Mart, a young couple moved from the city. They packed up their posh belongings - fancy silver, contemporary furnishings and upscale clothing and headed to Canyon Lake, Texas. While waiting for their contemporary custom home to be finished, they stayed in a cabin that sat next to the Guadalupe River.
Every morning, afternoon and evening the couple would walk their fancy pedigree dog along the banks of the river, and take in the stately cedar and oak trees and the emerald colored water. The dog, however, had another perspective.
FiFi was a fluffy white miniature purebred poodle. She wore a pink diamond studded collar and had pink painted toe nails. When she walked along the banks of the river she found it dirty and wet. She didn’t like the mud and she groaned every time they went outside because it was hot without air conditioning.
Once FiFi’s family moved into their new house, she was much happier. Her luxury leather chaise lounge was finally out of storage and she was able to lay on her cashmere pillows in a beautifully decorated living room. FiFi was finally getting back to her preferred routine of loafing about and watching the clouds go by. That was when things changed.
Her family had to go to work to pay for this amazing new home. She was left alone for long periods of time. Since they were gone all day long, they put her outside. In the backyard. In the Texas heat!
Laying next to her swimming pool and elegantly decorated dog house, FiFi scowled at the back door awaiting the time when she could go back inside. She had an automatic waterfall water bowl, and her parents put out plenty of toys and treats for her, but the fact of the matter remained - FiFi was stuck outside! There was no air conditioning, no cashmere pillows and lots of bugs and dirt.
FiFi became really withdrawn and grumpy. When her parents came home at night, she showed them her disdain by ignoring them. Her humans, mistook her sullenness for loneliness. Being stuck at home alone for these long days might be making her depressed so they decided she needed a friend.
They heard about a local animal shelter and decided, their home was large enough, their love was strong enough, and their hearts were big enough to accept a second dog into their home. That weekend they went down to C.L.A.S.S. and looked at all of the beautiful dogs. There were so many wonderful dogs, begging to be loved. Pouty brown eyes that expressed a longing for affection staring back up at them. Eager young puppies, bounding about their kennels, frolicking with one another in attempts to gain attention. So many dogs barking at them, saying look at me, look at me!
The humans studied each dog, until they came upon a quiet chocolate brown lab, lying peacefully in a corner. The name tag on the kennel door said Ethan, so the woman called his name. He stared at her with the most pitiful eyes she had ever seen. He didn’t look happy, he didn’t look scared… he looked lost. The way he watched her seemed to draw her into his heart and silently he seemed to tell her his story.
The employee at the shelter then began to speak. “He was found in the middle of Highway 306. One car was going west, another going east, and Ethan stood there in the middle of both lanes terrified. When the cars slowed to a stop, he was so afraid, he laid down on the road, trembling. When he was brought in, we looked for a microchip but he didn’t have one. We waited and waited to see if his family came searching for him, but no one came. He’s been here for two months now, and his depression has gotten worse.”
“Oh that is so sad.” The woman exclaimed as she walked into the cage to greet Ethan. He stood to meet her as she crouched down next to him and suddenly his tail started wagging. She patted his head and ran her hand down his beautiful soft fur and he licked her on the face. He was suddenly so happy, he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. He wagged his tail so hard his entire back end wiggled and he just kept licking her over and over again as she tumbled on the floor laughing. “We’ll take him!”
As the family was filling out the paper work, the employee added an addendum to her story. “Now you are sure you want him?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Tell me about your house.”
“It’s new. A two story custom home with a pool in the backyard.”
“Is it fenced in?”
“Yes it is.”
“And the house is large enough for him?”
“It is quite large.” The lady paused, “but we do have another dog.”
“Tell me about him.”
“Her name is FiFi. She is a poodle and she has been so lonely since we moved out here. I wanted to get her a friend to play with.”
“Will she be okay with another dog in the house?”
“I don’t see why not…. Why all the questions?”
The employee sighed a moment, then explained. “Ethan has been taken ‘home’ five times now. On five separate occasions a person or couple will come in, fall in love with him, and Ethan will fall in love with them. He goes home with them. He is there for a few days, giving them all of the love a dog possibly can give, he’s a perfect angel, doesn’t do anything wrong and then they bring him back.”
“We’ve gotten reasons like, he is too big for their house, their yard isn’t fenced in or they simply changed their minds.”
“He didn’t do anything wrong?”
“No. He just gave them his entire heart and they changed their minds.”
“That is horrible!”
“What a horrible thing to do to an animal! Did they not see his size when they adopted him? Did they forget their yard wasn’t fenced in before they took him home?”
“I know; it was a horrible thing to do, but it gets worse.”
“How could the story get any worse?”
“When he was brought back, you could see in his eyes that he was blinded by love for his new family. They didn’t have to see his face as we took him back to his kennel. They didn’t have to watch him sit there wagging his tail waiting for them to come back – for days. He sat and sat, then finally laid down, staring out the gate, waiting for them to return. They didn’t have to watch his heart break as the realization came to him that they weren’t coming back for him.”
By now the couple was in tears.
Their heart felt as broken for him, as his must have felt. When they looked back at the kennel at Ethan, all they saw was an eager, happy, loving dog, watching them expectantly as he just knew he was going to be adopted. A decision, etched in stone and unbreakable was decided.
“We will take him!” the lady spoke confidently. “And we are going to keep him!”
Ethan barked happily at that and all three humans laughed and smiled.
The ride home was joyous. Ethan sat in the back seat with the biggest smile on his face. He was so incredibly well behaved. He didn’t walk around or want to put his head out the window. He sat there tall and straight, so proud to have been adopted.
When they got home, the husband put FiFi in the house so Ethan could investigate his new yard without interruption. They walked him around the front yard, then went to the backyard. He explored, he sniffed, he marked the area. He glanced at his reflection in the swimming pool, investigated the dog house that exuded the scent of a soon-to-be new friend, and drank from the cascading waterfall water bowl.
After he had surveyed everything outside, it was time to take him inside. Unfortunately, FiFi had been watching from inside and had already formulated an opinion about this dog. He spent time with her family, had stepped on her bed in her dog house and drank from her water bowl. He would want to eat her food, play with her toys and sleep on her couch… he had to go!
When the door opened, FiFi jumped at Ethan, growling and barking. She stood her ground, refusing to let him inside. She was so abrupt and mean, Ethan was terrified. He ran behind the human lady and cowered at her feet. The human male held FiFi back and scolded her for her bad behavior, as the lady coddled Ethan.
Trembling, Ethan was too afraid to look up. He pressed his head into her chest, hiding his face in her arms. She held him close to sooth him. Her heart broke as she realized how kind natured Ethan truly was.
“He is terrified! He’s a great big baby scared of a little poodle.” She told her husband as he took FiFi outside.
“It’s okay Ethan,” she cooed, “you’re safe now. We aren’t going to let anything bad happen to you.”
He licked his mommy’s face and glanced around her at the house.
“It’s okay, you can go exploring if you want.” He just stood there. He needed the courage to go on, so she gave it to him. He explored the house, walking gingerly around the tables and carefully through the kitchen. He explored FiFi’s chaise lounge and then glanced out the window at FiFi who sat looking very upset. He looked at her, sniffed the couch again, and then walked over to the door.
“You want to go outside boy?” The man asked curiously.
“FiFi is out there. She scared you earlier.” The mommy spoke. “Are you sure?”
Ethan looked up at his new mommy and smiled. She knew he wanted to give FiFi another chance, so she opened the door.
FiFi strutted in with her head held high and checked out the new dog in her house. They sniffed each other. Ethan worked very hard to be polite and brave. He let her sniff him and didn’t move a muscle but FiFi found this a sign of weakness. She growled at him.
“No ma’am!” The father spoke, which attracted FiFi’s attention. She looked at him curiously, wondering why she couldn’t be mean to the intruder in her house. “This is Ethan. He is your new brother.”
Brother? FiFi scoffed. She backed a step with her mouth open as if to say, You mean he’s going to stay here?
She turned back to look at the large brown dog standing before her. You can’t stay here. This is my home! FiFi ‘s communication was clear.
This is my home. These are my parents. Those are my toys and that was my water bowl!
You can’t share? Ethan whimpered.
I shouldn’t have to!
Ethan’s head drooped. He sat for a moment before standing and slowly walking to the front door.
“Where are you going Ethan?” The father asked.
Ethan’s eyes spoke the words his mouth couldn’t. Back to the kennel.
“You want to leave us?”
I don’t want to leave, but I can’t take FiFi’s home. It wouldn’t be right.
Both humans looked at each other with tears in their eyes, then went to Ethan and sat down next to him. The mommy called FiFi over to sit with them as well.
“Ethan, this is your home now. You are going to share it with FiFi.”
Appalled, FiFi tried to push Ethan away but she was held there by her collar.
“FiFi, this is Ethan.” The mommy stroked the big dog’s head. “He is your new brother, and he is not going anywhere. He has had a very hard life and deserves our love.”
FiFi glanced at Ethan who sat there listening with a small smile on his face, but when he saw FiFi looking at him, he trembled a bit.
“Ethan, it is going to take FiFi a while to get used to you, but she will… won’t you FiFi?” The mommy spoke with a demanding presence to her tone as she looked into FiFi’s eyes. FiFi realized her mommy meant business and nodded her head.
“We are going to be one big happy family.” The father ruffled Ethan’s head and ears.
We will just see about that. FiFi thought as she pulled away from the group and went to go lay down on her couch.
The next morning, Ethan was excited to start his first full day in his new home. He walked with his mommy to the bathroom, and laid down to wait for her. When she came out he jumped up, wagging his tail and following her down the stairs to the kitchen. As she made coffee, he sat there calmly, on the other side of the room and watched her. Ethan didn’t take his eyes off her; he was so happy to have a mommy, he didn’t want to waste a moment.
A few minutes later she announced breakfast, and he followed her and FiFi outside where he watched eagerly as she filled the food bowls. He was excited about eating, so much so that he nudged her a bit.
“No sir. We wait patiently until I put the bowl down, then you can eat.”
Hearing his mommy scold him, Ethan got worried. He sat, slouching his shoulders, worried he had done something wrong. Fortunately, she saw this and patted his head.
“It’s okay, lil’ buddy. You just have to learn the rules.”
He smiled and panted but did not stand up. He was determined to make her proud. She fed FiFi first, which confirmed to Ethan that he was number two dog in the house. He was okay with that. If FiFi was eating, she wasn’t staring at him threateningly. Finally, he got his bowl of food and his happiness increased tenfold. It smelled so good! Juicy canned food mixed with dry and a bit of beef broth… it was scrumptious!
Ethan lost himself in his bowl as he ate and, for the first time that morning, he took his eyes off of his mommy.
He didn’t realize he was alone with FiFi until he was attacked from behind. He yelped loudly, terrified of what may have attacked him. His yelp carried into the house and to his mommy’s ears. She ran back outside to find Ethan quivering in a ball four feet away from his bowl, and FiFi’s head in his bowl finishing his breakfast.
“FiFi!” Mommy yelled as she stormed up to the white fluff and pulled her away from Ethan’s bowl. “Bad girl!”
FiFi didn’t like getting in trouble but she didn’t want to look weak in front of Ethan; after all, she needed to be dominant. She turned and growled at the mommy. That’s when the husband came out. He too had heard the yelp and came to see what was going on. When he saw FiFi growl at his wife, it was time for him to take action. He took FiFi by the collar and pulled her over to a tree. There he hooked her collar to the cord and made her lay down. “You get a time out Miss. Maybe a stretch out here by yourself will give you time to think about your actions. Ethan is part of the family and the sooner you accept it, the better your days will be.”
The mommy put some more food in Ethan’s bowl and coaxed him to eat again. Every bite he took, he turned to make sure she was still standing there. He’d chew, swallow, return to the bowl to get a bite, then look at his mommy again.
“It’ll be okay little buddy. I’m not going anywhere.”
The next day, Ethan took another ride in the car. Part of him was worried, but he refused to believe that the past was repeating itself. He sat still in his seat in the car, hardly taking his eyes off his mommy as she wound her way down the curvy hill country roads. When she pulled into a parking lot, Ethan was truly curious but he continued to be the best dog he possibly could be. She slid a nylon leash around his neck, the same one the kennel gave them, and led him out of the car. The ground was a black pavement that smelled of rubber and oil and there were many cars all around them. Ethan at first, was frightened of all of the cars, but when he realized they weren’t moving he calmed. That’s when he realized that there were so many cars, his mommy might misplace the car, so he glanced back at the car they arrived in and put the shape, smell and design to his memory. He did NOT want to get lost and he wanted to be a helpful doggy to his mommy.
She led him to a building and the glass doors slid open on their own. He stopped in his tracks and leaned backwards into the leash as his mommy tried to encourage him into the building.
Doors don’t open on their own. Impossible! Ethan had hoped the kennel doors would open and let him out many times, but they never did. There was definitely something wrong with this place.
His mommy turned and smiled at him. “It’s okay, lil’ buddy. It’s safe.”
Unsure, he tilted his head to the side. He wanted to believe her, but couldn’t understand what was going on. Just then the doors opened again and while it made him jump, he sat there and watched as another dog came out of the building, bringing his human behind him.
The dog approached Ethan and sniffed him.
I’m Smurphy. The Golden Retriever spoke to Ethan. What’s your name?
I’m Ethan. Hey, can you tell me what is wrong with that door?
Wrong? The dog looked back at the door. Nothing. It opens to a wonderful place made just for us! It has food and treats and toys and all sorts of fun stuff.
Yeah. You should check it out.
Okay. Ethan sniffed and thanked Smurphy for his help. Ethan stood up and walked over to his mommy to let her know he was ready.
As the two walked inside, Ethan thought the place shone like Heaven’s rays peeking through the clouds. With those rays came so many tantalizing and amazing smells Ethan didn’t know which direction his nose was pulling him. His mommy led him down the first aisle that was packed with all sorts of toys. He stopped to sniff them, and his mommy asked if there was anything he wanted.
He looked up at her and smiled. I have you. That’s all I could ever want!
The mommy wanted to get him a toy. She picked up a rope that he could tug on, then a stuffed animal that squeaked, and then a toy shaped like a duck that actually quacked when she squeezed it. Ethan immediately tilted his head curiously as he stared at the duck. Is it alive?
She squeezed it again, and it quacked again. Inquisitively, he sniffed it, then sat back down.
“Would you like it, Ethan?” She quacked it again.
Tilting his head the other way, she offered the duck to Ethan. He thought he might hurt the duck, but she encouraged him to take it. He took it into his mouth and gripped down tightly on it. The duck quacked again. He dropped it to the floor and sniffed it. He poked it with his paw, asking it if it were okay. I didn’t hurt you, did I?
Ethan's Reception, a Story of Hardship and Acceptance by Kathleen J. Shields / History & Fiction have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on19 votes