The Journey of Phillip, the Forgotten, to Phillip, the Fabulous, in 30 Days
Twenty First in a Series
January 13, 2016
School Days, School Days, Happy Golden Rule Days
Outwardly, Phillip was healing in record speed due in part from the help of homemade herbal supplements and creams of nutritious weeds. His mange was gone and hair was quickly growing into the bare spots where scabs once resided. The cigarette burns on his stomach were little more than memories. The sad discharge filled eyes were now full of “happy boy” confidence. I stroked his “velveteen rabbit” fur and looked into those deep brown eyes. “I always knew you had good eyes,” I whispered to Phillip. He looked back at me gratefully as a smile and wide wag were traded in for all his troubles. I remembered back to the first time I stared into those eyes and saw that spark of life buried deeply there. Despite everything, this dog wanted to survive and goodness lived in him. As if on cue, Loki pranced over to show me his eyes. “Yes, Loki! You have good eyes too!” I said. Phillip leaned into me for better prime petting access. It is amazing how these dogs always seemed to know what I was thinking.
Before the car ever came into sight, the dogs knew Paul was on his way home. Alternating between the door and the window, Phillip joined the chorus of happy soft whimpers. “What?” I said headed toward the window. “There’s nothing out there,” I continued. As the words were forming, the green car crested the hill with the man whose arrival they were announcing. I looked back toward the dogs, “How’d you know?” I asked puzzled.
Walking into the greetings of his personal fan club, Paul arrived home from another doggie photography session at the Humane Society. “He is looking good, isn’t he?” Paul said scratching Phillips ear. “I have never seen a dog clear up from the mange as quickly as he has. I think your special home cooking had something to do with it,” Paul announced tossing a hot dog treat in Phillip’s direction. The rest of the gang encircled the man who was back home with many smells to sniff and pockets of goodies to be emptied. In their own way, each dog made their best effort to convince Paul that they would gladly relieve him of that load of leftovers used to help coax smiles from camera shy shelter dogs. Stanley circled, Jeff Smith did a “sit pretty”, Cindy Lou howled from her chair, and Bone-it-a stomped the ground with her feet to get Paul’s attention. Phillip did a move that is best described as the “sit and shuffle” in his effort to cut off the competition. Paul handed out treats to each of the pack. That is…everyone but Loki! Loki lay resting uninterested under the table. After all, Loki’s body is a temple.
“I stopped off to see Mary at Quality Pets on the way home,” Paul stated with much enthusiasm. Quality Pets was a locally owned pet supply store that we frequented. Mary, the owner, was always interested in our extended family of animals and frequently offered valuable insight to help with problems our furred and feathered friends were facing. “How’s Mary?” I asked with genuine concern. “Well, she is offering a dog trainer access to the store at night to hold beginning obedience classes. I have the information on this card. Since it will be awhile before Phillip is adoptable, I was thinking that basic training classes would make him even more desirable. What do you think?” I listened as Paul’s thoughts poured out. With the extended stay necessary to heal Phillip from the heart worm treatments, this would certainly make the best use of the time we would be sharing. “Let’s do it!” I replied. “We have missed the first class, but the next one is tonight at 7 PM. There are five more classes. Mary said that we could just show up tonight and play catch up. Phillip is such a smart dog he should have no trouble,” Paul said detailing the arrangement. We both beamed down with pride at our budding young scholar Phillip.
Filled with the excitement of a new adventure, I felt like a Mom sending my child off to his first day of school. “To do” lists filled my head. There was a great deal to take care of in a very short time. I rummaged through the box of bandannas and chose a bright green one. “Just because we are only fostering you, doesn’t mean you are not loved,” I told Phillip as I straightened the knot in the scarf. Phillip responded to his new look with a full body wag. Loki, Jeff Smith, and Stanley knew that bandannas were only brought out for special occasions, and I could see that they were giving Phillip the suspicious eye. “Yep! Nothing gets past you boys,” I said removing a few more scarves to fasten on everyone so that nobody had hurt feelings.
Paul went to work grilling hot dogs to cut into training treats for the class. “Whoof,” a low pitched bark came from Bone-it-a as a reminder that everyone needed their supper. “We better hurry and feed this bunch before we leave,” I said not wanting to be late.
There was a predictable order to the pre feeding ritual that was repeated daily and without variation. In a well-rehearsed assembly line fashion, I filled the bowls as Paul added the supplements. As the first morsel of food fell into the bowl, Loki would begin barking loudly to express himself. Few things stirred Loki, but the anticipation of his supper always excited Loki, and when Loki was excited… he barked. Stan the Man automatically opened the door for the exuberant Loki to rush outside. Stanley, being a helpful dog, knew that loud barking was not allowed in the house. To regain his composure, Loki flew out the door burning off his food frustration by loudly telling the fat squirrel how he felt about waiting to eat even one second longer than necessary. The rotund target darted up the nearest tree in response to Loki’s verbal assault. Cindy Lou awoke from her chair to sachet into her crate awaiting the bowl. She could sleep through any noise except the sound of food being poured into a bowl. Then as if an alarm clock had rung, she sprang from her slumber and athletically vaulted from the chair…my one and only good chair. It was a miracle!
Stan the Man moved away from the open door. He did not close the door before he moved away. Stan the Man would open doors but he never closed them. He positioned himself between the chow chefs and the counter staring intently at the floor for any fallen tidbits. Ever helpful, Stanley was very good at keeping the kitchen floor tidy. Food never littered this floor under Stan the Man’s shift! Jeff Smith raced into his crate with feet that slid across the tile onto his “home plate”. Bone-it-a was sitting very still shifting her head from side to side with the purpose of giving Paul the “hypno eye”. “Look into my eyes! You are under my spell!” she projected as she stared intently.
While the gang was focused on food, Paul grabbed the keys to the 1996 Honda and the leash of a puzzled Phillip as we headed for the car to make a quiet departure. The only problem in this plan was that Gracie Bird was not so easily distracted,” Go for Ride! Go for Ride!” her tattle-tail parrot voice rang above the clatter of food bowls. Phillip jumped into the car willingly intent on sniffing out the hidden location of more Daylight Donuts as the noise from the house exploded. The observation that we were going for a ride and they were not had struck its mark. The “supper club” barked scolding us for this wrong doing. “Do you hear something?” I asked pretending not to hear the beggars. “Nope, I don’t hear a thing,” Paul answered starting the car. “I especially don’t hear Loki.” Loki’s bark wailed loudly over the rest. With smiles on our faces, the three of us headed on our next adventure.