The Dog's Story

Karen Radford Treanor 


Copyright 2023  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo courtesy of the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.

I bought a small picture frame at a charity shop some time ago.. It came with a photo of somebody's dog sitting in the back seat of a rather posh car.. I do not know this dog, nor that car, nor the person who took the photo and later abandoned it--but I am having difficulty throwing away the photo now that I have cleaned up the frame for another picture. Somebody loved this dog enough to let it ride in the car, and took a photograph to mark the occasion. Why did the owner later discard the picture?

The car has leather upholstery, so it’s a good car; it appears to be an older European or British model. The weather is rainy, perhaps cold, outside. There are other cars around and there is a building in the background.

Where is the car’s owner and why is the dog in the back seat waiting? My mind tosses out the germs of stories, one after the other.

# 1…Perhaps this morning the dog was having a lot of fun with another dog from down the street. He was a well set up German shepherd with fascinating brown eyes, which promised even more fun if she’d just stand still for a moment. New and exciting feelings were stirring in the dog. . The next minute her owner was chucking a shoe at the handsome visitor and saying “Really, Madge, this won’t do!” The dog spent the last few hours shut in the pantry with newspapers on the floor, occasionally whimpering sadly. Then her leash was clipped on and rather than going for a walk, Madge was put in the back seat and driven to a place that smelled strange, and made her nervous. A man in a white jacket put her up on a cold hard table and said to her owner, “Madge will be fine; I’ll call you when she wakes up.”

Or perhaps, # 2… the owner is in the front seat, taking photos of the dog to pass the time. They are at the train station, waiting for somebody to arrive and get off the train. Perhaps it is the dog owner’s partner. She’s been away, and he feared for a while that she wasn’t coming back. Her phone calls were brief and not particularly personal; there was more distance between them than just the miles. Several return dates were discussed but postponed. Now, at last, she’s coming home. The man is nervous. He’s brought the dog along as an ice-breaker; perhaps the dog’s welcome will pave the way for his own.

Or perhaps # 3…The dog is alone in the car; the elderly woman who owns her left hours ago, saying “I’ll be right back.” A long time has passed; the dog is beginning to get hungry. Eventually a policeman opens the door. “I’ll get the RSPCA to come for the dog,” he says to an unseen presence in the little black gadget on his shoulder. “A pity the bastards got the old lady’s wallet, we might have been able to contact a family member sooner. Good thing she had a picture of the dog on her key-ring; the poor creature might have been here for days otherwise.” The policeman offers his hand; the dog sniffs and then gives it a tentative lick. The policeman turns to his partner. “See if you can find the leash, the poor thing probably needs to take a walk.”

Or perhaps # 4… The dog has just been picked up from the dog shelter where she was 18 hours from being put to sleep permanently. Two middle-aged men came into the shelter looking for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to replace the dog they had lost to cancer several months ago. They have been through the stages of grieving for their lost pet: first swearing no other dog could replace him; then telling each other that with no dog they’d be free to go anywhere anytime without the responsibility of a pet; then missing the evening walks in the park which weren’t the same without a dog. The men had no intention of getting a large cross-bred bitch, but she looked so longingly at them, and licked the hands they held up to the chain-link door.

The woman who ran the shelter looked disapprovingly at the Malacca cane Rob pretended was just a fashion statement and said, “You probably don’t want a dog this big. She’d require a lot of exercise.” “Madam, we have had dogs before and no doubt we could manage to care for this one adequately,” said Jem in his best I have an MBA from Harvard so don’t pull the snooty bitch act on me voice.

They’ve made a generous donation to the shelter and shaken the dust of the dismal waiting room from their well-shod feet. Telling the dog all will be well, they have left her in the car while they buy food and two larger bowls. “She needs something bigger to eat and drink from than Reg had,” says the practical Jem. “And some bigger toys, and a rawhide bone,” says Rob, who thinks fun is more important than people realise. The dog waits quietly, nosing the well-kept leather seat and beginning to hope, just a little.

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