Seeds of light and happiness are often planted in the darkest soil of our lives. I let the thought drift off and fade away like a dandelion seed on a beautiful summer day.
These, my friends, are my memories of the days spent with the girl who taught me to live life with freedom and joy … this after all, was Cosita’s way.
From inside my prison cell, I was able to look out the double glass doors that lead from the living room to the patio. My first day in this forever home greeted me with a stunning sunrise. In the spot where the sun kissed the sky hues of purple, indigo and orange layers radiated out and shifted and melted across the horizon. Under normal circumstances this doggy would be a happy camper, but the circumstances were totally not normal.
The events of the previous evening seemed like a dream, especially the part about being abandoned in the parking lot. It was hard to believe that this was my new life. Unfortunately, this new reality included that black and tan terrier who spent the night just on the other side of the bars staring at me as if I were a new species of animal that scientists has just discovered and planned to introduce to the world.
Now that light was beginning to filter into the room, I was finally able to get a good look at her. She was indeed black and tan and looked as though she was a mix of Jack Russell and Rat Terrier. Her eyes were cold and black as coal.
“Why are you in my casa chica?”
The words came out sounding harsh, and if the tone wasn’t obvious enough, she made sure to give me the stink eye too.
“I … I …”
The words wouldn’t come to me.
“Hump! Well don’t get any ideas because this is my casa and these are my peoples, got it furball?”
“Got it.” I mumbled.
“I cannot hear you, chica?”
“Understood,” I squeaked.
The creak and groan of the floorboards caught my attention, but I didn’t want to look away from the mean dog, and she in turn would not remove her gaze from me.
“Ready for breakfast girls?” Mommy called from the kitchen.
“Si, I am starved,” my new nemesis answered with her eyes still locked on me.
“Come get it!”
Finally, she peeled her eyes off me, hopping down from the sofa and trotting over to get her first meal of the day.
I on the other hand was served breakfast in my cell. I am not gonna lie, it was super delicious. They put actual meat and gravy on my food and mixed it together. I gave up all concern about the terrier, and with my face firmly buried in the bowl I went to town on the beef and chow.
“Hello, how you doin?”
I jumped back and swung my head around, kibble spilling everywhere. The unexpected deep voice startled me into panic mode. My eyes scanned the room as quickly as they could, but the room turned up empty, except for an orange cat who was sporting a healthy tummy.
“I am so sorry, I should have introduced myself, my name is Rapi,” the feline said claiming ownership of the rumbling latin voice.
“Oh, hi! Nice to meet you Rapi, my name is Cinnamon, but my friends call me Cindee,” I said with a smile and a clumsy curtsy.
“Well, nice to meet you too Cindee. Don’t let Cosita scare you, she just wants to be queen of the house.” He smiled warmly. There was something about this cat. Maybe it was his yellow green eyes, or maybe it was the chubby cheeks, I couldn’t tell which, but whatever it was, it made me feel safe and cared about.
Grrrrrrrrr. A loud growling noise came from the general direction of the orange cat. A wave of terror settled over me and I cowered into the corner of my cage expecting the terrier to leap out from behind Rapi. My eyes flitted to the left then the right searching for dive under. I didn’t like this crate. There were no good places to hide.
“Don’t worry,” the cat chuckled, “that is just my tummy telling me it’s time to eat. Talk to you later Cindee!”
He smiled, winked and trotted off towards the kitchen where Daddy was placing a bowl of cat food on the floor.
Mommy opened the door to my prison, scooped me up into her arms and planted a wet kiss on my nose. Wowwie, this woman was a kisser.
“Yuck! Makes me sick!” Cosita scowled up at us from between the human’s legs.
“Time to go potty,” she said, opening the sliding glass door and letting terrier out.
“I will be right with you in a second okay Cindee,” she asked in her sing song kind of way, before planting another wet one on my snoot and setting me down on the cement pad just outside the door.
I glanced around the big fenced in back yard and decided I wanted to be back inside, but by the time I turned around, Mommy had closed the door already. Rats!
With nothing to do I decided to take another look. It was beautiful. It had grass and everything. Even better than grass was that there was no chain to wear around my neck. I quickly found a spot and did my business then lay down under a tree to look up at the clouds floating overhead. Peaceful.
I jumped to my feet and prepared to run and hide inside the flower bed by the fence.
“Look! Somebody left the gate open a little. Let’s go explore!”
The terrier mix wore a huge smile, and for the first time since I met her didn’t seem so menacing.
“C’mon scaredy pants, only for a second. Just to see what’s on the other side!”
Friends, I am a sucker for a good mystery, and now this was sounding too good to pass up. For the briefest of moments, the idea that this could be a trap perpetrated by that terrier mix crossed my mind, but I simply could not resist a good mystery.
“Just for a second,” I squeaked.
Cosita nudged the gate open a little wider. One at a time we squeezed through the opening, Cosita first then me.
On the other side was a paved pathway that led around a large lake. The terrier and I looked at each other and smiled.
“Freedom!” she yelled.
“Woohoo we are free,” I howled at the top of my lungs.
“Let’s go kid,” Cosita barked to me then took off at a sprint. I let the moment take over, and followed close behind her, running faster than I have ever run in my life.
We raced along the winding pathway and across several forks in the road. It seemed that the terrier preferred going to the left. I felt the wind whipping through my hair and the tropical air filling my lungs. What happiness!
We went passed a water fountain in the middle of the lake, stopping for a few minuted to get a water and enjoy the mist tickling our noses before moving on. Eventually we passed through a stand of trees and emerged out onto the city streets. I didn’t like this so much. It was loud and busy and filled with a lot of strangers.
“Cosita,” I howled with as much force as I could, but either she didn’t hear me, or she was ignoring me. I glanced over my shoulder at the quickly receding trees and the park behind them and felt a sick fluttering in my stomach.
The light changed to red and the terrier scurried across the street. Unsure what to do I watched her until she reached the other side.
“C’mon kid, don’t be a downer,” the terrier called from across the street.
Lost and with no real choice I followed her.
“Hoooooonk!” A red sports car came to a screeching halt just inches from striking me. I quickly jumped out of the way and hustled to the other side of the intersection where Cosita stood on the street corner giving me the stink eye again.
“Where are we,” I asked, my body trembling from the overload of emotions that were coursing through me.
“Dunno,” the terrier answered, her voice sending the message that she hadn’t a care in the world.
‘But Mommy? Daddy?” I stuttered.
“Oh, they will find us. They always do,” the dog laughed heartily.
With that she began to trot down the street her tail erect and her head held high. She had the posture of a princess and I, well, I was one of her subjects that followed her down the sidewalk.
We passed several shops until we found a bodega with a display of jerky just inside.
“Deliciouso! Let’s grab a snack!”
“Are you sure it’s a good idea,” I asked, concerned that we didn’t have any money and the fact that I just escaped a jail cell and had no desire to go to another one.
“Sure. We will just grab one and run!”
“I don’t know,” I began to protest, but she was already in the store and reaching for a Slim Jim.
“No dog’s allowed you mutts,” a short fat man with the greasy black hair yelled at us as from across the store. Cosita’s head jerked in his direction. I followed her gaze and caught site of him just in time to see him grab a broom and come storming towards us.
“Forget it, let’s go,” I barked to the terrier then dashed from the shop.
Cosita held her ground and was barking obscenities at the shop owner. So, I did my best impersonation of innocent bystander and noticing a yellow box with newspapers inside of it, I wandered over and pretended to read the paper. On the front page was a photo of this adorable German shepherd puppy. Being a baby still, I hadn’t learned to read yet, so I waited for Cosita to finish expressing her opinion to old greasy head then asked her what the paper was saying.
She stood silently staring at the article, her eyes scanning the page. I looked on, waiting as patiently as I could.
“Well,” I asked after a minute or so had passed.
“Hush kid, I need to concentrate,” she grumbled back.
Another couple of minutes passed and I was about to open my mouth to interrupt again, when Cosita turned to look at me. Behind her big black eyes was an expression of fear that I hadn’t seen in her before. This worried me.
“Let’s go, we better get moving,” she mumbled and turned to head back in the direction we had come from.
“What is it?” I asked, hoping to settle the butterflies that had taken flight in my tummy back at the Bodega.
“Nothing important. I just think we need to get home before Mommy starts to worry about us.”
I was not buying it. She did not seem too worried about Mommy earlier, and besides that she didn’t answer my question about the German shepherd either. Something wasn’t right about this. Even though I wasn’t happy about my circumstances there really wasn’t anything I could do to change them, so I just kept my mouth shut and followed Cosita.
“I don’t remember any of this.”
“I know kid. I don’t either. I think we are lost,” the terrier answered calmly.
“What do we do?”
“We just keep walking kid. Mommy will find us.”
I wished that I could be as confidant as Cosita, but I just didn’t have it in me.
Just when all felt lost a black Nissan Altima pulled to the curb and the passenger side door swung open. Inside the car sat a young woman with bleached blond hair and long well-manicured nails smiling warmly at us.
“Hello puppies! Are you guys lost?”
“Yes we …”
“No, we are fine,” Cosita cut me off.
“C’mon, hop in, I will help you find your way home,” the woman held out her hand.
I made a move towards the car and was about to get in when Cosita tackled me.
“Run! Go as fast as you can kid!”
The terrier nudged me and pulled me by the collar until I was a safe distance from the open door.
“Stranger danger!” the terrier barked, then turned to run.
Not wanting to be left alone I struggled to my feet and followed. We weaved between legs and crossed a couple of streets, all the while the car was tailing us. It had begun to close in quickly, and I could even see the woman sitting behind the wheel with a wide smile on her face. That’s when Cosita spotted a stand of evergreens ahead.
“Quick, into the trees, she can’t follow us there,” the terrier barked over her shoulder to me.
We dove into the cluster of bushy trees and quickly popped out on the other side where both Cosita and I crashed into a couple walking down a pathway. All four of us tumbled to the ground.
Without missing a beat, I rolled to my feet and took off running, not bothering to stop to look behind me. Everything was okay though because I could hear the steady rhythm of Cosita’s breathing right behind me.
“Keep moving, no matter what, that newspaper, it was about a series of serial dog nappings in the city,” the terrier panted between labored breaths.
“OMG! That woman!”
It was all my tiny brain could think to say.
“Cosita! Cindee! Stop!”
The voices were coming from behind us.
“That sounded like Mommy and Daddy,” Cosita said, her forehead furrowed up.
“Stop kid! That’s Daddy!”
We quickly slowed to a halt. When we turned to look we found it really was Mommy and Daddy running along the pathway towards us.
“Jeepers! They are not in good shape, are they?”
“Not at all kid,” Cosita answered with a full belly laugh.
“Time for bed,” Mommy called out.
It had been a long full day, and I was exhausted, so I was not about to put up a struggle. I watched everyone trudge off to the bedroom, then headed for my crate. I had just about snuggled up with a blanket inside when Cosita poked her head around the corner.
“Now what?” I thought silently, my brain anticipating more trouble.
“You heard Mommy, it’s time to go nighty night, C’mon kid, we made room in the bed for you!”
I looked at the terrier in disbelief.
“Sure, now c’mon, everyone is waiting for you!”
With those wonderful words, I finally felt accepted somewhere. I felt like I was part of something special. I took in a deep lung full of air and dashed off to the bedroom to take my place in a nice comfy bed where I would float away to a world full of beautiful dreams about my family.
Cindee and Cosita on their first day together: