A Different Kind of Family
A short story
I pulled into my driveway, shutting off the engine. I looked out the window, and shivered. It was cold that night, and it was pouring rain. I zipped my jacket up to my chin, and grabbed my umbrella from the passenger seat. I opened my door a crack, quickly opening my umbrella. I braced myself for the cold, and ran to my front door.
Once under the porch roof, I turned back and locked my car. I fumbled with the keys, trying to get the right one into the lock. I cursed myself for forgetting to turn the porch light on before I left that afternoon.
Just as I turned the key, I heard a strange whining sound. I paused, and I heard it again, this time louder. It sounded as if it were coming from underneath my feet. I debated for a moment about whether or not I should investigate. Deciding I needed to know if I should call pest control, I went down the steps.
I took out my phone, turning on the flashlight. I crouched down, pointing the light under the stairs. About three feet away was a large black dog. It was visibly shivering, curling in on itself. I panned the light over it, trying to see if it was injured. Down by it’s hind legs I saw the strangest thing. Three small kittens.
I knew I had to get them inside, or else they would probably freeze to death. I went inside, heading straight for my laundry room. I grabbed a basket, and filled it with towels. Then I went to the kitchen, looking for something to distract the dog. Considering the condition they looked to be in, I doubted she would just let me take them inside. I dug around in my fridge until I came across sliced ham. Tossing it into the laundry basket, I headed for the door. I switched on the porch light as I passed, knowing I would need the light to see them. I would need both hands to crawl under there, so holding my phone as a flashlight wouldn’t be possible this time.
Crouching at the opening by the steps, I started by throwing a piece of ham towards the dog. I wanted her to trust me, to let me get close enough to scoop up the kittens. She sniffed it, and made a small growling noise at me. I stayed completely still, just letting her watch me. She sniffed the ham again, this time taking a bite.
I moved forward a few inches, then tossed another piece of ham to her. This picece she ate immediately. I guessed she must have been really hungry. After repeating this a couple more times, I was finally close enough to touch them. I reached my hand out to her palm down, letting her smell me. She moved forward so that her snout was under my fingers. I took that as permission to give her head a few pats.
As I scratched behind her ears, I slowly reached over and picked up one of the kittens. It started mewing at me, and the dog watched my every move as I wrapped the kitten up in a hand towel. Once I’d placed the kitten in the laundry basket, I reached for another one. Pretty soon I had all three of them bundled up in towels.
I slowly started moving backwards, out from under the porch. I made sure to keep the laundry basket in front of me, so that the dog could keep an eye on her kittens. She stood up, following the basket as I moved.
Once I’d cleared the porch, I lifted my umbrella off the ground, covering myself and the kittens. I stood, and waited for the dog to join me before heading up the porch steps.
I led the dog inside, closing and locking the door behind us. In the light of my hallway, I could see that she was really skinny for a dog of her size. I walked into the sitting room, placing the laundry basket in front of my couch.
The dog immediately went to the basket, sniffing the kittens and giving them each a few licks. While she was distracted, I went to the closet and pulled out some blankets. I placed them on the floor next to the basket, hoping the dog would curl up in them.
I got a bowl of water, and some more ham, placing them next to the blankets. The dog ate up all the ham in minutes, and then proceeded to gulp down most of the water. My heart went out to her, she probably hadn’t eaten in days.
As she settled herself on the blankets, I took the kittens out to see how they were doing. Drier, and warmer than they had been, I unwrapped them and placed them next to the dog.
One by one, they each found their way to a nipple and latched on. The dog stretched out on her side, closing her eyes.
I didn’t want to leave them alone, so I quickly changed into pyjamas, and set myself up on the couch. Before I fell asleep, I put a reminder into my phone for the next morning to call a vet.
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