I’d say it was love at first sight, but it was that kind of love of which none would ever approve. I was beautiful and classy; he was dirty and probably smelly. I first saw him wandering down the street without much care in the world. He seemed content to just pad down the sidewalk, enjoying the warm summer sun. So maybe he wasn’t exactly my type, (he looked like he hadn’t bathed in a few days and I was all about the hygiene) but something about the proud way he carried himself took firm hold of my attention. He just seemed so independent, something I had never experienced.

It was two nights later when I saw him again. It was dark and there wasn’t a soul on the street save for him and his equally dark shadow. I know I shouldn’t break rules, but I couldn’t help but sneak out. I hadn’t been out this late since I was young, back when I didn’t understand the sleep patterns of the two-leggers and thought the world revolved around me and when I had to pee. I know better now, and I also know how to slip out the back door without making a sound. So I did.

He was on the other side of the road, stopped and staring at something on the ground. I nonchalantly trotted toward him, trying to seem oblivious of his existence. I’ll admit I was mildly annoyed when he finally did look up. He didn’t seem shocked by my appearance or at all taken aback by my beauty. To think, I had just gone to the parlour two days ago. Instead the sides of his mouth lifted just barely and he let out a small noise of acknowledgement. Then he started to walk away.

“Excuse me!” I barked, annoyed at how simply he had brushed me off. He lazily glanced back at me and I caught up to him quickly. “I saw you the other day and I wanted to say hello,” I started off, uncertain, “but I had other things to attend to. I thought I could greet you tonight instead. Are you new to the area?”

“New? No.” He sounded gruff and a bit irritated. “Well, maybe a bit. I usually stay in the poorer side of town but I got chased out a few days ago. There’s not much to eat up here where all you snobs live, is there.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? You think I’m a snob?”

“You look as well groomed and pampered as one. Look at that thing around your neck. Diamonds?”

“Well excuse me for wanting to look nice. I see you have no such desire.” It came out of my mouth before it really clicked. He wasn’t just unkempt; he had nobody to care for him. Up close I could see the outlines of ribs poking out from beneath his black coat. Rather than replying, he just snorted and picked up his pace. I struggled to keep up with him.

“Wait, I’m sorry. That was rather insensitive. Why don’t you come over? I could scratch up a decent dinner for you.”

I could tell in the way his pace slackened that he wanted to take me up on my offer. Though with any male, pride can go a long way, even against hunger.

“It’s all right…” he started to protest.

“No, it’s not. You’re coming with me.” I gave him a stern look to let him know I was serious. I think he whimpered.

“LACEY!” I groaned, pulling my tired eyes open. Why was she yelling so loud? My thoughts wandered back to last night. The food! I bounded out of my bed and into the kitchen where she stood, pointing angrily at the floor. She started yelling and pointing, but I’ve always found the two-legger’s language to be whiney and confusing. I put on the cutest face I could muster and pretended to look ashamed. A barking laugh emanated from beneath the table. My head whipped around. My human stopped yelling at me and gasped, leaping from the floor to the counter in one swift motion. I forgot to introduce her to my friend.

“Do you have a name anyways?” I asked him. I had forgotten to last night.

“Never been given one, though the people that used to throw me scraps called me Stray.” He came out from beneath the table.

“Sit down and look cute. Putting your head down and looking up at her helps. It’s how you tell humans that you’re sorry or that you’re not going to hurt them. They’re a little stupid so you have to exaggerate it a bit.”

I mimicked Stray’s pose and looked up at my human. She slid off the counter and came toward us, reaching a cautious hand out. Stray looked a bit uncomfortable. My human said something to me that I guessed meant, “did you bring him here?” and I yipped happily and nuzzled him.” Again he looked shocked but I grumbled, “Just go with it.”

Before Stray came along, I would have never looked twice at something so filthy. My coat was always kept shining and my nails well trimmed. I looked pretty and smelled pretty and my collar was the best of the best. I guess Stray cleaned up pretty well. One would think he was dying the first time my human tried to bathe him, but he came out looking all right. Angry, but nice. Now that he’s put on a few pounds he’s pretty good looking.

I suppose love is love though, and I sure do love Stray.

by Kit Warner


image: two dogs via Shutterstock