I lifted my head out of the garbage can, wrinkling my nose at the awful smell of the place. The smell of smell of rotten eggs enveloped the air. I looked around at the whizzing cars and the drunkard sitting next on the cement nearby, whiskey in hand.
How did I end up here?
Vomit made it to the edge of my throat, but I managed to hold it in. The streets whirled around me, making me dizzy. I struggled to pull myself out of the garbage can and fell flatly on the pavement.
Damn it. That hurt.
I looked at my paws.
They were disgusting.
If only my owner could see me now. She’s always saying I’m getting into everything.
My heart sunk. My owner, Jeanine, always told me I was the best dog ever and that she loved me. She thought I couldn’t understand her, but I could. I looked around. Cars whizzed by, first a white Subaru, then a green Nissan, then a Prius. I sighed.
Where is she? Does she know I’m lost?
It had all happened that morning when she had been taking me for our regular walk in the dog park. I had seen a stranger with dark black hair and a mustache, drinking brandy as he was walking a huge, black dog named Burly. I rolled my eyes at the thought.
Even his name was annoying.
He’d always barked at me like I’d done something wrong and nipped at me. My whole body shivered at the thought. I smelt the pavement.
No trace of Jeanine.
I furrowed my brow, trying to make sense of my surroundings. Large sky scrapers towered above me. A big, black dog rushed by, snarling at me and nearly knocking me over. I barked. I barked again and again, but Jeanine wasn’t here. I couldn’t cross the street with the cars whizzing by and I wasn’t sure where on earth my best friend was. I sighed and laid down on the pavement, dejected. My lids became heavy and closed in their sockets. The world went dark.
The next morning, a golden disc of light rose in a sky of many colors. For a second, I became lost in the divine painting of the horizon: orange, purple, hints of blue, and a pink streak across the sky. I shook my head and snorted.
Time to get moving, Plato.
Suddenly, I spotted Jeanine’s favorite pastry shop across the street. I guessed I hadn’t seen it before.
I could die crossing the street.
There was a stoplight though, if I walked for a few a few miles. I knew that because Jeanine had always crossed the street with me when she was going to her favorite pastry.
Okay, Plato, breathe.
I told myself, even though I was so hungry it was hard to walk. I’d eaten most of the stuff in the garbage that was any good anyways, but my stomach was a bit upset. I missed my grain-free dog food that Jeanine always gave me, and the bacon, and the salmon.
My mouth watered just thinking about it, and I resolutely put one paw in front of the other, breathing heavily, until I reached the traffic light and the crosswalk. Of course, with my luck, the sign on the other side of the street was displaying an orange hand, so I waited, and waited, and waited for what seemed like an eternity until I saw the white stick figure on the sign. Then I ran across the street as fast as my little legs could carry me. It was hard being a small dog sometimes. People didn’t see me and I didn’t want to get run over. Jeanine would be devastated. I really wanted to see her again. My heart ached.
Focus, Plato, focus. You will find her. You can do this.
I smelled the sidewalk for her scent. It smelled like a lot of people, of course, but, as I got closer to the familiar pastry shop, I detected it.
Oh no. Jeanine goes all over the place all the time. Her scent is everywhere. Where’s our apartment. Where?
I ruffled my nose, as determined as a son searching for his mother in the grocery store, and continued my search. A light bulb went off in my mind.
Jeanine’s apartment is on the same street as the shop. That’s why she loves it so much. Convenience. That’s right. And the number of her apartment is 1134 Blackweld Place. Oh gosh. It’s still a ways with all of these people, but at least I know I’ll find her eventually if I just keep going.
The sun beamed down on me. My tongue was hanging out of my mouth.
Water. I need water.
I thought, but I just kept going, one paw in front of the other. Jeanine usually carried me part of the way if I got too tired, and it had taken me a long time to find the familiar pastry shop.
Jeanine. Jeanine. You’ve got to do this for Jeanine.
I kept walking, and, after what felt like an eternity, I finally arrived at my best friend and owner’s apartment. 1134 Blackweld Place.
“Dumb dog. What are you doing here?” a gruff man with greying hair shouted and kicked me.
I whimpered. Jeanine opened the door. There were large bags under her eyes. She was holding a phone in her hand.
She’d probably been calling everyone trying to find me.
She dropped the phone on the floor and ran outside, “Plato! You came home. I was so worried about you. I’m glad you’re okay!”
She picked me up and held me in her arms, tears streaming down her face.
Oh no. Jeanine’s crying. I hope she’s okay. I didn’t mean to worry her. I’d just been really scared when I’d run away from that big dog and I’d gotten lost.
My nose wrinkled. I smelled salmon on the stove. Jeanine put a perfectly roasted piece of fish into my food bowl and I devoured it like a hungry bear.
Salmon. So good. I loved salmon.
I drank my entire bowl of water as if I hadn’t drank anything for weeks and collapsed onto the floor, my lids closing.
I’d found my Jeanine. I was safe now.