From a Doghouse all Empty and Sad

The Doghouse insisted the the Gingerbread House cut in front of him.  The Gingerbread House has agreed to wait a week.
I know my inhabitants expected nothing from me.

No matter who lived here, they accepted what I had to offer and that wasn’t much at all.

Oh, I had fake windows, well not fake, shutters that could be done up on cold or blustery days. New and bigger houses don’t have shutters any more, well, they have them, all made of aluminum and they just hang there.

My only door never closed.

I have no wiring, no lights, no central heat, except that of the current inhabitant. I’ve got no plumbing either.

The last dog to live here, lives inside now. I just sit out here. No one pushes the snow off my roof.

I’ve had four dogs and a chicken.

The first two were dogs. One at a time, I was never that big, unless a toy breed came to live out here but those kinds of dogs become babies with doting parents.

“How’s my baby today? What’s my little one want for his dinner. Who’s a poochy poochy poo?”

That kind of baby talk makes me want to get up and shake off!

Okay, back to my dogs.

The first was a golden retriever. She was a beautiful dog. Brandy lived here till she was white in the muzzle. She made a game of hiding things inside me.

You should have seen her toting a painted top from one of the kids. It was the kind you push down on and watch it spin. There was a shoe, I think all dogs take a shoe at some point in their lives. She brought some mittens all balled together. Dolls. Balls. There were a lot of things she’d bring out.

Brandy lived inside the big house at the end.

A puppy came after. The grown-ups had to turn me up on one side to get all of the toys left by Brandy the golden. The man laughed when he found that shoe.

You know I still have a tuft of hair they didn’t pull out of my side.

The puppy was a real cry baby. Bandit whimpered, barked and even howled to be let in. He would tangle himself on his chain.

I don’t think anyone liked the puppy after the first few days.

Bandit grew quickly. One of the kids would come and walk him, or at least pretend to walk him. She was meeting a boy and I suspect the poor puppy went right into the trunk.

The puppy grew quite large, the food alone must have cost the people in the big house at least an arm and a leg.

Wait, these days people sell organs, must have cost them a kidney.

I am not sure what happened to Bandit the puppy.

One day in late summer, might have been fall, one of the middle kids showed up in the yard.

He put up a chicken wire fence all around me, strung out a heat light and managed to suspend it somehow inside on my roof.

I had central heat. It is still there but after the chicken jumped the fence and ran off, no one turned it on any more.

After what must have been a year, the fence came back down, someone raked the feathers up and went away.

I waited expectantly to see what would happen next.

I think another year went by before the dog who lives here now arrived.

Between times the noises up at the big house changed. The pop music the girl played so loud went away. The boy was gone, too.

A new family moved in, it seemed like it took forever, the clattering, the empty boxes tumbled out the back door. The new man would come out at the end of the day and fold those boxes up neatly and he’d tie them with twine.

Then he took the stack of folded boxes away.

More time was spent all around me, mowing, planting trees, a small garden went in and finally they turned their attention to me.

The new kids, small ones, set out to paint me. I imagine they must have picked the colors from left over paint cans. I began to look like I’d come right out of a day care.

The new man came out and put new hardware on my working shutters and the kids began painting again, amused at the vacant spots exposed to them while my shutters were off.

The light stayed. The man shimmied in and changed out the bulb. This could only mean someone would live here again.

One day the four of them came out with a curious fawn colored leggy thing that I mistook for a miniature deer. On further observation I knew it couldn’t be a deer.

It had short course fur very pointed ears and a sharp snout. Its tail curled impossibly back on itself.

I know it was a Basenji because the grown-ups explained he pranced when he walked and couldn’t bark. He was a dog after the ones shown in Egyptian paintings. Osiris was full grown from the pound.

Now, I knew why the man had left the light inside of me. This poor creature was not made to make his own heat.

The whole family got involved with this dog. They fenced in the garden to keep Osiris from digging and pooping there.

The family came to play at least twice a day with this silent creature. He was allowed inside the big house for hours sometimes the whole night.

The kids grew up but unlike the kids before, they never lost interest in the little fawn colored dog. The dog is gone now, so are the kids.

The man comes out and gazes at me with a wistful look in his eye. I imagine he is remembering the kids who painted me and that day they brought the dog home.

The man is older, not as substantial as he used to be. Like a copy of himself but faded.

My fun colors are pealing back, not all of them, must be the different kinds of paint they used. I look more patch worked now than fun.

I don’t think he is out here thinking of his next puppy. He looks too sad and regretful for that.

He comes out every morning and every evening but the woman hasn’t been out for a very long time. I think the man is here alone.

I wish I could talk, I know another dog would do him well. Maybe a golden retriever to hide his shoe would give him something more than memories to work with. But he goes back inside.

Later he comes back. It’s been this way for a very long time now.

A man without a dog and a doghouse all empty and sad.

What a fine pair we have become.

I know my inhabitants expected nothing from me. Did I mention the tuft of faded red golden fur still stuck in my corner?

I really miss the toys and shoes and balls.

The man is back, standing on his back porch where he once folded up the boxes.

A Doghouse all Empty and Sad…

By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.