The Rottweiler bucked against the restraints. Strangled snarls rumbled in his throat, incapable of escaping his muzzled mouth.
“Hold him still!” Abbi cried.
I reached out and began stroking the large animal on the rump. He twitched and flinched, but as I continued to place my hand there, his movement slowed and ceased altogether. Abbi prepped the needle and plunged the puppy with his supplements.
“Okay,” Abbi turned to the sink and began washing her hands again, “Get him off my table.”
I got my hands around Denver’s collar and gently pulled him toward me. “Come on, boy,” I invited him cheerily.
Abbi grinned as Denver heaved his body off the table and stood next to me, still woozy from the drugs. She didn’t say anything, she just grinned.
“What?” I asked. She had that same look everybody got when I was out with the dogs, the look that made me feel like I had somehow performed a miracle.
Abbi nodded at Denver and giggled, “I’m the one who went to veterinary school, but to them I’m just the mean old lady with the pills and the needles. You’re the animal whisperer. You speak their language, and they trust you.”
Her observations were making me uncomfortable. “So?” I asked, because I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Abbi laughed again and went back to checking charts on the computer. “You’re a funny kid.”
Funny kid; I’m twenty years old, she’s thirty, and she still calls me a funny kid. It’s like no one realizes I’ve grown up—not even myself. Every time she calls me a “funny kid”, I’m thirteen again, and Big Sulley is sitting in the armchair next to the Steinway telling me I am “the funny kid with the angel music.” After a solid decade of being “on call” for Abbi during the day and Sulley during the night, I wonder if it’s even worth it to try college. What good is a degree if I can’t get a job without leaving people in the lurch? The very idea boggles the imagination.
I brought Denver out to the pens. Mariah was there with her friends, talking like she owned the place.
“This is Dot; I got to name her.”
“She’s so sweet!” One of the girls gushed, sticking her fingers through the grate so the Pomeranian-Silkie mix could explore them.
My sister happened to be standing in front of Denver’s kennel.
“Excuse me,” I muttered to her.
Mariah blinked as if she didn’t hear me, “What?”
I coached Denver forward, and she backed away, just like I wanted her to.
“Ugh, David! I thought all dogs were supposed to be leashed outside the kennels!” She frowned at me.
I prodded Denver with my knee to keep him from investigating Mariah’s guests like he wanted to; I didn’t see anything wrong with the pup. He was sweet and innocent, but he had this jagged scar around his eye and one leg bent funny, so he scares people away.
“Hey,” I called his attention.
Taffy—her hand still gripping Dot’s cage, grimaced, “What?”
“Not you,” Man, I hated the way my cheeks burned when I talked to girls! “I meant the dog.” I finally got Denver into his kennel, and he lunged to lick me in the face before I closed the gate.
“Weirdo,” Taffy muttered.
“Let’s go,” Mariah announced, “Davy’s going to start talking to the dogs again. Oh, by the way,” she turned to me, “Steve signed you up as the catering coordinator for the carnival next week. You can talk to Annie and find out what all that entails.”
Steve… If my brother knew that I’d named a particular grey domesticated rat after him, he would probably kill me—socially, not physically.
Steve Jordan has always been a model salesman, even from a young age. He could get anyone to do anything. He convinced my dad that it would be okay for him and Bailey (my oldest brother) to attend PSU together—Bailey as a Management major and Stephen in Marketing. Steven then got several foundations to fund their degrees through scholarships.