The Chronicles of Little Bear, Part Three – Ralph
I was so happy to be home! After having seen poor Ralph hit by a car and hearing his sad story, I realized how lucky I was to have a good home and family who love me. I ran around doing my jobs joyfully the rest of the week. Oh, it was so good to play chase with the boys and roll in the grass after dinner. How quickly things change. It seemed as though my fig leaf had stopped bumping along the “ground of glum” and an updraft of air had picked it up, whirling me high into the sky of gratefulness. Life was good again.
I told Danny and Smoker about Ralph, and we all agreed he should come to our home when he was released from the hospital. Danny said he would speak to Mommy later in the evening about him staying with us. Our spirits had been low after Holly left, and we felt excited and energized again at the thought of helping Ralph. Just thinking about having another little foster dog coming to stay with us until he mended and a forever home could be found for him was wonderful.
The three of us powwowed about how to help Ralph when he would eventually get here. Smoker said he would share his worldly advice with Ralph, and Danny said he would be gentle and not give him too many “Bites” while he learned the do’s and don’ts. As for me, as soon as I got a chance, I hurried down to the east side of the yard by the shed and checked that my trusty old bone was ready for a new dog.
Even Nicholas and Beethoven seemed happy about a new rescue dog coming. I kind of thought though, that when I saw them looking at each other and smiling smugly, that maybe they were thinking about what kind of mischief they could cause. So I asked them to go easy on Ralph the first week or two – just until he got the hang of things – because he had it rough on the streets for quite a while and had been hurt pretty bad in the accident. They looked disappointed, but agreed to be nice for a couple weeks. Their tricks aren’t bad and kind of fun most of the time. Two weeks would give Ralph plenty of time to get used to them and see that they are really great cats.
I could hardly wait each day to hear news about how Ralph was doing. Mommy said he was getting well and would be coming soon. She cleaned the crate he would be using, and put a new blue blanket in it. (Blue is for boys you know.) I laid on the blanket for a short nap so my smell would be on it, and he would know he was safe. Danny picked out a couple toys and placed them in the crate. Smoker pushed the crate a little closer to where we take our naps so he could see us better and not be afraid. Yup! We were ready for him!
Mommy went to the vets everyday to see Ralph and would come home with good reports on how he was healing. The days passed and soon a week had gone by as we patiently waited for Ralph. Mommy finally said he would be coming home to us tomorrow, so we needed to go shopping and pick a few things up for him. “Little Bear, you come with me because you know Ralph the best.” I happily ran to the hall tree and got my working coat and leash. Mommy put them on me, and off we went to the pet store.
I love going to the pet store. There are so many good smells everywhere in the store. Why, sometimes the people who work in the store even give me a doggy cookie!
Mommy said we had to pick up special dog food for Ralph, on account of he hadn’t been eating very much for a long time and we needed to build his strength up. She read every label on the different dog foods until she came to one bag and said, “This is the one, Little Bear. This will build him up nicely.” I wagged my tail in agreement, and in our basket it went. We also picked out a special shampoo so that his coat would look nice and shiny. That led to getting Ralph his own brush, comb, and tooth brush. Now all that was left was picking him out a new collar and leash.
We went to the aisle in the store that had all the collars and leashes. There were so many to pick from. They came in all sizes and colors. They even had harnesses, and there were some weird looking ones too. Mommy looked at all of them saying, “Hum, no – not that one, nope, no, no, hum – no, um – maybe, ah – no.”
Suddenly I saw “the one”! I stretched myself to reach up and pull on the leash. “Oops!” The whole shelf almost came down! Mommy grabbed it just in time to stop everything from falling. Boy was that ever a close call!
“Bear!” she said, “You must be careful!” She sighed, and continued on, “Oh, so you like that one? Well it is very nice. Hmm, I think you’re right. Let’s see if it has a collar to match.” She looked and looked and finally found a matching collar in the right size. “Here it is!” I stood there wagging my tail as happy as could be. It was a beautiful set. It was a deep, dark, wine red color with a black stripe running up the middle. Oh, it would look so nice on Ralph! “I think these colors will show off Ralph’s coat nicely.” Mommy said. I yipped in agreement.
Mommy said smiling, “There I think we are done. Let’s check out.” I trotted right beside her heading toward the checkout line, when she suddenly stopped and turned down another aisle. It was the dog and cat treat aisle. With a chuckle she said, “I think you dogs have earned a special treat. What do you think Little Bear?” My tail wagged so hard that my whole body shook as I barked happily. Plop! Into our basket went a bag of our favorite treats, and back toward the checkout line we went!
As soon as we got home Danny, Smoker, Nicholas and Beethoven ran up to see what we bought at the store. There were nods, yips, and tail wags for each item Mommy pulled out of the bags. Everyone approved and told me, “Good job, Little Bear! Good job!”
Mommy put the food and shampoo away and laid the collar and leash on top of Ralph’s crate. Now we were really ready for sure. With a loving pat, she gave each of us a treat.
I didn’t sleep well all night. I kept waking up and checking the clock with excited anticipation of seeing Ralph. Morning finally arrived, and that was the big day. Ralph would be coming to our foster home early in the afternoon. We all jubilantly went through our morning routines knowing that was the day we had been preparing for. In a few hours, Ralph would be here and we again would feel fulfilled helping another dog on his journey to his forever home. Oh, we could hardly wait! It felt like we were puppies again waiting for a new bone.
Finally it was noon and Mommy said, “Okay boys, I’m going to get Ralph now.” as she picked up the new leash and collar. “You guys behave and I’ll be back shortly.” Out the door she went.
Danny started issuing orders for us to look over our work to make sure everything was ready for Ralph. We scurried around checking and double-checking. Finally we all sat down in front of Ralph’s crate and Danny said, “We’re ready.” Smiling, we gave each other high fives.
We were all in the living room looking out the big picture window when we saw our car drive up. Our tails were wagging a mile a minute with delight knowing Mommy and Ralph were home. But – what? Mommy got out of the car by herself, and she had the leash and collar in her hand, but there was no Ralph at the end of it! As she walked to the door her head was down, and there was a sad look on her face. We all moved to the door and waited for her to come in, but our tails were not wagging. We were all feeling so let down, and wondered what was going on with Ralph. Had he taken a turn for the worst? I heard Danny say, “Let’s hope Ralph is all right.” Then Mommy opened the door.
“Oh, boys,” Mommy said with a sad tone, “Ralph is not coming to our home. Let’s go sit down in the family room and I’ll explain what happened. We all followed Mommy quietly into the family room and sat beside her as she told us about Ralph. “Well boys, when I got to the vet’s office to pick Ralph up, the other lady who helped at the scene of the accident was there with her husband. She said she had worried about poor Ralph so much that her husband thought maybe they should give Ralph a forever home. They will be adopting him. He is going home with them today.
“Ralph liked both of them very much, and asked me to thank you, Little Bear, for the offer of you and your brothers’ foster home, and to tell you that he knew you would understand. I know how disappointed you boys are, but we should be happy that Ralph has a good home now. I am so sorry boys. I know how you were looking forward to Ralph coming here, but cheer up! Soon there will be another little dog needing us!”
We all sat there for a moment looking at the floor with long faces. Nicholas and Beethoven, grumbling under their breath, got up first and went to do their shift watching Grandma. “Come on boys,” Danny said, as he headed for the doggy door.
We all thanked Mommy for telling us, and followed Danny to a nice shady spot under the fig tree. “Well guys, it’s unhappy news to hear that Ralph won’t be coming, but think of all the fun we had getting ready for him.”
Smoker spoke up, “We shouldn’t be sad. Ralph has a good home, and now we are ready for any little dog that might need us.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I feel a little disheartened – well, maybe a lot – but you’re right, he has a good home, and we’ve done all the work to get ready for another dog, and that means we have more time to play! Soo, whoever gets to the fruit trees last is IT!” I barked as I started running toward the trees as fast as I could!