The Journey of Phillip, the Forgotten, to Phillip, the Fabulous, in 30 Days
Eleventh in a Series
December 26, 2015
It was the day after Christmas, and the rooms were littered with colorful paper and slobber stained boxes that were ripped and torn to bits. My unfocused eyes followed the trail of snowy fluff that floated around my feet. Stanley had collected most of the squeaky toys given to his doggie friends for gifts, and with the precision of a surgeon removed the squeaker from each one leaving them limp and lifeless. Loki took the squeak-less toys from a bored Stanley and shook them from side to side with gusto all the while venting his frustrated attempts at capturing the elusive fat squirrel. The stuffed guts poured out of the toys settling on the floor. A low growl could be heard coming from Loki, the toy killer. “Take that squirrels! “he seemed to warn. I felt certain all the squirrels within earshot were shaking with fear in their trees adjacent to the birdfeeder buffet.
The black friends had once again found their Christmas rope toy and their play was in full swing around my robed legs. I caught hold of the stair railing for balance as I was somehow the center of their game. They circled me good naturedly to let me know that I was noticed. Phillip gave me an energetic “Good Morning” wiggle slapping my thighs with his tail.
On the other side of the room, Jeff Smith held his still stuffed duck tightly in his clenched jaw. From the corner of the room with his focused glare, Jeff Smith dared Stan the Man to touch his precious toy prey. Cindy Lou was in the chair, my only presentable chair, sleeping. One of Loki’s well shaken and formerly stuffed toys flew into the air and landed squarely on Cindy Lou. Thor and Phillip plunged after the airborne remnants of the toy bumping into Cindy Lou’s chair in the process with such force that the chair began to rock. Cindy Lou continued to snore.
“Take it outside, boys!” I ordered as the herd of feet raced out the open kitchen door to the yard where Paul and Weasley were having their own fun. I sat down with a glass of green juice to enjoy my new Christmas book on natural healing.
Weasley was outdoors with his ball playing a game of catch with Paul. As Paul threw the ball, the drool that covered the toy flung into the air as it went soaring. Being a Labrador and fully focused on his favorite game, the ball was returned again and again as Weasley awaited another round of fetch. He would look off into the distance as if he could see the imagined ball going in the direction of his gaze. This game could go on all day as far as Weasley was concerned.
The clouds began rolling over our valley introducing the storm that was on the way. The need to quickly take the dogs on their daily walks had become urgent if we were to remain dry. I sat on the stairs putting on my shoes. Gracie Bird had picked up on the clue and made her usual announcement, “Go for Walkies! Go for Walkies!” Our dogs knew what that meant and even Cindy Lou woke from her napping post to join in the chorus of howls, barks, and yips that could only mean, “Take me…me…me…me…What about Loki?” demanded Loki with his stare. The noise was always accompanied by rushing toward the door and cramming as many bodies into that small area as would fit all the while looking intently at the door as if it would magically open.
Phillip enjoyed being the dog in the lead and would tug hard at the leash to maintain his position. He would come back to me often and gently bump my hand with his nose to reassure himself that I was still there as we made the rounds. Suddenly, the first clap of thunder sounded barely giving notice that a drenching downpour was upon us. I watched Phillip as the rain drops beaded up on his waxy oily skin. Phillip began to pull even more intently than normal in a full blown panic until he reached the barn. I raced to keep up with him. The poor animal was shaking in his loose fitting skin with wild eyes watching the storm outside. All my efforts to get him out of the barn and back into the house were futile. There was something in his past that was triggered by this event, and he was fear struck. Whatever it was, the memory was not pleasant.
Since Phillip would not budge, and I was not about to force him into an uncomfortable situation, I sat on a hay bale making myself comfortable. Paul entered the barn with Cindy Lou on his way back to the house. “I’m going to hang out here with Phillip for a bit. He’s having a rough time,” I told Paul as he passed us. “Phillip probably thinks that his human’s don’t know how to get out of the rain,” Paul joked briefly. “Hey, I’ll be back shortly to check on you both,” he continued showing genuine concern.
Alone in the barn, Phillip crawled into my lap like a child climbs into its mother’s arms after a bad dream for comfort. I stroked his sticky scabbed naked skin and rocked him as he trembled. I could only imagine what his life must have been like before…chained outside without shelter to endure anything nature tossed his way. My heart ached for this creature created by the same God that made me. “Phillip, I don’t know about your past history with storms, but I promise that you will never ever be left to endure another storm alone,” I spoke soothingly to him. “You will never be chained up outside to feel the cold sting of the elements ever, ever again in your life! I will make certain that where ever you end up, you will be cherished and loved. How about it, boy? I think I have some room in this raincoat for a Phillip,” I coaxed as I lifted him in my arms wrapping my green raincoat around his forty-six-pound body. He relaxed in my arms like a contented baby.
Once inside, he ran to his crate to take inventory of his cherished belongings. The potato soup bowl, the Milk Bone dog biscuit box, and the rope toy were still hidden beneath the blankets where he left them. He gave me the full body wag of a dog that understood that he was loved. He ran barking to the door. “What is it?” I asked the dog in a puzzled tone. “You don’t have to be in the rain any longer.” Phillip persisted with such intent that I opened the door wondering what he wanted. The dog rushed outside, did a quick poop, and ran back indoors. In all the excitement, he had forgotten to do his business on his walk. No longer fearing the nightmare of his past memories, Phillip knew he could awaken to his new life. It was as if I now spoke dog, and Phillip now spoke human. We understood each other. Phillip never had an accident in the house after that day, and he was never again frightened of the rain.