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Waiting for Carla

Tara lay quietly at the rear of her cage, half asleep, half awake, pondering on her life so far … a short one, mostly confined to the kennels, except during visiting time, as now, when all the dogs were put into individual cages in the long viewing building.

She’d heard some of the older dogs talking about the outside world …

sometimes enthusiastically, such as about playing in fields, romping on a beach, barking at postmen, eating delicious food, lazing on sofas … then sometimes sadly, as they described their owners running into financial difficulties, or falling ill, or moving overseas, and being forced to give their dogs to others …

others though had darker memories, such as how their owners were unkind and even cruel, of beatings, being locked in dark places, not fed for days, even weeks, then being abandoned in strange, frightening places.

She’d decided that she would only accept being adopted by a person or couple who cared for her, who would love her and treat her kindly.

Her friend Alex, the kennels owners’ own dog, had promised to keep her informed of such people, but until recently none of those who’d visited had convinced Alex that they would be ideal for Tara.

Then, around a month ago, a group of visitors had come up to her cage, and one woman had kneeled down, smiled at Tara, then gently stroked her nose through the wires, and quietly said “Hello, you”, before the group moved on to look at the other dogs.

Later, Tara asked Alex about her, and found that Alex had met her when she and her partner called in to the office after that visit to talk with the kennels owners.

Alex gave Tara her name, and from his description, she was sure it was the woman who’d spoken to her …

beautiful, with long black hair, bright eyes, and a warm smile, who talked fondly of the dogs her family had when she was a child, and how she and her partner were considering having one themselves.

She’d promised, said Alex, to come back soon and look at the available dogs, but was particularly looking for a puppy that would grow, as she described it, to be proud, adventurous, protective, but gentle with humans.

A description, Tara had thought, which fitted her perfectly.

Her name, after all, was given her because she was destined to be a dog version of a great female warrior – a Rhodesian Ridgeback who would grow up to be large, strong, and powerful, but affectionate and loyal.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a new couple coming up to the cage and peering through at Tara..

“Look - that’s a lovely puppy” said the man … “call her to us”.

His partner did, but Tara leapt up and raced towards them, growling and baring her teeth fiercely.

The couple jumped back in fright, then scurried away down the corridor.

The dog in the next cage came closer and said “If you keep on snarling and snapping at the visitors, Tara, no-one will want you. Although you’re only a puppy, you’re a big one, and you frighten them. That’s not the real you – so why have you started doing that?”

Tara walked over nearer to her, and, with a smile, said quietly …

“Because I’m waiting for Carla”.