Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Last Chance Animal Shelter By TRACEY ASTELL



“Pick me, pick me!” the chorus echoed around the Last Chance Animal Shelter, but it was only the keeper on his daily round, a high-powered hose in one hand, who appeared in the doorway. He aimed the hose into an empty kennel and turned it on. The last resident had been there for his requisite seven days and had been dragged out late last night, for once reluctant to leave. Splashes of icy water bounced off the concrete floor, through the thick metal bars and onto the neighbouring occupants who curled as far away as they could into the corner of their cells.



“Yap, yap, bloody yap. It's no good crying and wailing like that when humans appear,” the large black hound in the pen next to me said to no one in particular. “They'll never choose you if you act like that”.



I looked over at the elderly dog. He had bald patches on his body, left ear torn almost in two, a huge scar ran from his right eye, down his cheek, ending an inch above his jaw, “What's that you say?”



“I say, you gotta know how to deal with this if you've any chance of getting out of here”. He turned his battered face towards me. Despite the unpleasant appearance, his one good eye showed intelligence. “You're a good looking dog, young, a bit large for most families but listen to me and I'll get you adopted.”



“How come you know so much?” I have to admit, I did not like this place one bit and if there was any chance of leaving soon then I was all ears. I moved in closer to the ugly brute and sat down on the cold floor.



“I've had four owners and five names: Frank, Buster, Samson, Bandit and now Scabby, on account of my recent skin problems. I've been in 'ere, or in places like it, three times now and I've seen it all before. If you jump up and down, all eager like, you'll get nowhere. Humans don't like it. You gotta play it cool!”



Scabby proceeded to tell me his version of the best way to behave: Sit quietly.  Be alert. Wag your tail. Look interested. Be friendly. Never bark. Never bite. Never jump up. Endure all pats and stroking, however annoying. And No Scratching. Ever.



“It's a show. Look, I'm a freaking mongrel, a fighter, who'd want that?  I'm going for the sympathy vote otherwise its the knackers yard for me”. With that he sat up, dropped his head slightly to one side, let his tongue loll out of his open mouth and raised a paw.



I laughed at his parody and decided to show him what I'd learned. I lay down, placed my nose between my paws and, what was it now, oh yes. . . crucially, look up.



“You've got it boy! Now roll over, let them rub your tummy, humans love that!”


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