George's Great Journey

Submitted into Contest #176 in response to: Write a story told from the point of view of an animal.... view prompt

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Creative Nonfiction Kids Adventure

“Okay, George. You be good!”

The shout echoed through the house, its haunting message turning my blood to ice. I leaped off the couch and dashed to the entry hall.

Where the heck was he going now?

I rounded the corner, almost slipping as I skidded across the hardwood floor. My owner waited for me in the open doorway, the fragrant smells of the outside world wafting their way inside. 

“No. You can't go!” I whined and sat down defiantly before him.

He looked down at me, kindly, while a smile stretched across his face. 

“It’s okay, buddy,” he said, “I’ll be back soon.” 

I stared up at him, eyes wide and tail wagging, hoping he would grab the leash hanging by the door. Instead, he knelt and pet me gently. 

“I’m just going to the store. I promise I’ll take you on a walk when I get back,” he said.

In a last desperate attempt, I slowly extended my paw to him and drooped my ears. 

That’ll do the trick.

But my owner shook my paw, gave me one last pat on the head, stood, and left; Locking the door as soon as he shut it. 

“Take me with you,” I cried, “What did I do wrong?”

I stayed put, hoping my owner would come back, but when I heard the car start, I spun about and sprinted into the backyard through the doggie door. Then, I ran over to the side-yard gate to peek through the gaps between the slats. 

“No!” I barked at the empty driveway, “Come back!”.

“Oh hush, he’ll be back,” a voice mumbled from the neighbor's backyard. 

“But Maverick!” I cried, “What if he doesn’t come back?”

“He’ll be back.”

Looking between the slats in the sideyard fence, I could see Maverick laying on the cement patio, belly up, and soaking up the mid-morning sun. Being a Saint-Bernard German Shepard mix, his long brown fur moved at the slightest breeze. 

“Are you sure? How can you be sure?” I cried.

“They always come back. They have to. Who's gonna feed us?” 

I trotted over to the gate again. 

“Why do they always leave us behind?”

“Hush. You’re making a ruckus.”

Maverick let out a big yawn and rolled over onto his side. I stared across the street at the neat array of bushes.

“My owner is a jerk for leaving me behind,” I said. “Why couldn’t he just leave the door open so I can go explore outside while he’s gone? The house is so boring when I’m alone.” 

“The world is a big place,” Maverick grumbled, “A curious, young Labrador like yourself wouldn’t last one day alone. It’s better to stay inside where you have food, water, and a human that loves you.”

“Are you kidding? I’ve been out plenty of times.”

“Never alone though.”

“It can’t be that bad.” 

I let out a whimper and pressed the top of my head against the gate.

Oh, how I wish I could go explore.

Just then, the gate creaked open.

“What was that?” Maverick growled. 

“The gate wasn’t fully latched! Yippie!”

“George, NO!”

But I didn’t listen. My paws pounced into motion, sending me flying out the gate. Panting and eyes wide with excitement, I rushed down the driveway. 

“George! Don’t stray from the neighborhood!” Maverick howled. “The cats, George, beware the cats. . .”

I turned left at the road and ran down the street. No more boring house for me today. I’ll show Maverick and my owner that I could take care of myself. I lifted my nose and sniffed the air. So many familiar scents came to me. 

“Oh. . . Yeahhhh.”

Interwoven with all the smells, was a faint one of cooking meats. I breathed deep, tail wagging uncontrollably. The scent grew stronger and stronger as I mindlessly followed it to its source. Soon I was peering through a fence into someone's backyard. 

“Oh . . . hot mama!”

On the back patio, a man stood by a smoking grill. My ears perked at the sound of sizzling burgers and squealing hot dogs. Saliva drooled from my jowls. 

“Hey! Who are you!?” 

I jumped at the sudden appearance of a small dog on the other side of the fence. 

“Get outta here,” the old Yorkie yapped. “This is my house. You have no business here!” 

“Bugsy! Quiet” the man shouted but the Yorkie didn’t listen.

“Go away! Go away! Go away!”

“Okay, okay, okay, Sheesh,” I muttered, “I’ll go.” 

I took one last sniff, licked my chops, and continued down the street only to stop abruptly when I realized that I had no idea where I was. 

My dang nose always gets me into trouble.

But before I thought much of it, I caught wind of another smell. 

“What is that?”

I walked and sniffed, following the alluring scent until I came across a little girl selling cookies at a homemade stand in her front yard. When she noticed my approach, she smiled at me and gave me a hearty, “Hello.”

I sat beside her, wagging my tail. She looked down at me, her brown eyes gleaming, and grabbed a cookie. 

“Want a treat?” she asked. 

My eyes grew wide and my stomach growled but before she gave it to me, her mother came running out of the house. 

“Angela, NO,” she shouted. “Those cookies have chocolate in them!”

The girl looked at her mother, confused. In that brief moment of distraction, it took all of my willpower to not jump up and seize the cookie from her. Her mother promptly snatched the cookie from Angela and put it back on the serving tray. 

“Sorry, mama,” said Angela. 

The mother leaned over me and scratched me beneath the chin. I, however, was not a fan of her, so I looked away.

“Hello there, little guy,” she said, “What’s your name?” 

I didn’t respond. My thoughts were still on the cookie so she grabbed the tag hanging from my collar. 

“George?” she read aloud, “What a fitting name. Does your owner know you’re out here?”

She pat me on the head, took out her phone, and dialed a number. I stared at the girl, hoping she would still give me the cookie. 

“Sorry buddy,” she said, “but I can’t give you the cookie. It’ll hurt your tummy.” 

What jerks.

“Hello. . . yes,” the mother said into the phone, “this is Maria Holmes. I have your dog here . . .” 

My tail stopped wagging and I looked down the street at a peculiar-looking fire hydrant. 

“Yes. A yellow lab named George. Uh-huh. Yeah, my address is . . .”

My stomach growled again and I thought of what Maverick said about staying home.

I wish I had listened to him. What I wouldn’t do for a few bites of food right now? But the image of my food bowl was quickly displaced by the peculiarity of the fire hydrant. I lurched forward and ran down the street. 

“George, NO!” Maria shouted but it was too late, I was already on the move. Plus she was rude to me, so I didn’t want to listen to her anyway.

The gray fire hydrant wasn’t as interesting as I thought it to be so I made my way through the neighborhood, trying to find anything that looked familiar. I headed this way and that but spent a lot of time sniffing bushes. Yet the longer I walked, the hungrier I became, and the cumulative feeling started to wear on me. Also, outside was the perfect temperature for an afternoon nap, but I couldn’t find a couch or bed to lie on. Eventually, I came across a lonely puddle on the side of the road.

Maybe a quick drink will help me think.

I lapped up the stagnant water, wishing that it were my water bowl when, suddenly, a black cat approached. I stopped drinking at stared at her and she stared back at me.

“Hello there,” I said. 

The cat did not respond. 

“My name is George. I’m not from here. I’m lost. Can you help me?”

“Lost?” the cat purred. 

“Yes. Lost and hungry. I just want to find my way home.”

“How unfortunate,” another voice said. 

I wheeled about and found a tabby cat sitting behind me. The way he fixed his unblinking eyes upon me made the hair on my back stand up on end. 

“A dog? Way out here? In our neighborhood?” said an orange cat coming out of a nearby bush. “Tsk, tsk. How unfortunate indeed.”

The cats circled me, making my heart beat a little faster and my tail droop. 

“Your neighborhood?” I asked. 

“Yes, OUR neighborhood,” the black cat said, “YOU don’t belong here.”

“Where’re all your collars?” 

I took a step back but a sharp hiss from the tabby made me jump. 

“Please let me go,” I whined. 

“No, No. Too late,” the orange cat hissed. “We have to teach you a lesson now.” 

I bolted forward, startling the black cat who jumped out of my way. She hissed, swiping at my leg as I passed and missing by an inch. 

“Get him!” she screeched. 

I ran as fast as I could with the cats in hot pursuit, all three of them swiping at my heels. In a desperate move, I zig-zagged and shot for the gap between two fence lines. 

If I could make that gap, I might be able to . . .oh no.

The gap was a lot smaller than it looked from the street and I knew I would not be able to fit. Too much bacon grease, peanut butter, and yogurt made me a lot rounder than I should have been at my age.  

“We got him now!” the tabby shouted. 

“Cut him off! 

 “Leave me alone!” I barked.

Knowing I was cornered, I spun to face my pursuers who closed in on me with a dangerous feline grace. 

“Nowhere to run now,” purred the black cat.

“Go away,” I growled, barring my teeth. 

The three cats smirked and three more cats appeared, joining up behind the black cat. What confidence I had was lost in all of their unblinking eyes.  

“Please let me go!” I whined.

The black cat advanced ahead of the others and raised her paw, sharp talons extending from each toe. 

“George? GEORGE?! Is that you?”

My ears perked up. Never had I been so happy to hear my owner's voice. All six of the cats looked at the gray truck stopped in the middle of the street and at the man shouting out of its open window.

“Stop playing with the cats and get over here,” my owner shouted.

The black cat glared at me. 

“Don’t let us catch you here alone again,” she said and the six cats dispersed in all directions. 

“Oh don’t worry, you won’t!” I said and ran to my owner, who got out of the car and let me into the back seat. As soon as I was in, he promptly slammed the door shut behind me.

“You’re lucky I found you, you crazy dog. It’s a big world outside the house. Who knows what would have happened to you . . .”

I looked at my owner, panting happily with my tongue hanging out, and listened to him as he yelled at me while he drove. Ten seconds into his rant, I leaned forward and licked him on the cheek. He stopped and looked at me in the rearview mirror, his stern expression fading into a smile. 

“Oh, I can’t stay mad at you, boy.”

My tail started wagging on its own. My owner laughed and then said, “I bet you learned about how good you have it today, huh?”

I gave him another lick on the cheek. 

December 16, 2022 04:06

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2 comments

Max Russell
06:05 Dec 22, 2022

Nice story, Kevin! It had great pacing, and the pet and human interactions were on point. I imagine a lot of house dogs feel the same way. I liked how the neighbor dog gave him a warning before he ran off, setting up good tension for the rest of the story.

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Kevin Alphatooni
01:51 Dec 28, 2022

Thanks for that feedback. This story was fun to write.

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