Our 2017 release Rescue Smiles: Favorite Animal Stories of Love and Liberation earned a best book distinction in the Human/Animal Bond category of the Dog Writers’ Association of America Annual Awards. The book features 15 stories offering a look into the emotional lives of rescuers and the living beings they hold dear.
In grititude for this honor, we’d like to share with you an excerpt from one of our featured authors, Laura Koerber, and her delightful tale of an unusual bond in “The Bandit and the Engineer.”
The Bandit and the Engineer: Alice
by Laura Koerber
The little dog crouched beneath the tangle of blackberries and salal and waited. The man banged the front door open, strode across the lawn, and flung himself into his SUV. The brake lights flashed, the engine hummed, and the car rolled backward into the street where it reoriented itself and vanished in a puff of exhaust.
She wrinkled her nose: bad smell. Then she waited. The door opened and a woman hurtled out. She had her arms full of stuff, which she dumped on the hood of her car while she fished for her keys. Then she looked over toward the little dog under the rhody.
They made eye contact. The little dog tensed, but this eye contact was part of the morning routine. Then the woman flung her stuff into the car, slid in, and blasted off in a swirl of noise and exhaust fumes.
The two people left at the same time every weekday morning. The little dog knew their routine because she had been watching them for months. She didn’t know the names of the days of the week, but she knew the pattern of days when they departed early in the morning and days when they didn’t.
As soon as the woman’s car was out of sight, the little dog emerged from the brush, scurried across the street, and dived into the safety of the forsythia hedge. She burrowed through the side yard shrubbery and popped out into the backyard where she was greeted by the moist smell of food. In one bound she was up on the deck and had her nose in the bowl.
The food was there every morning, and if she was quick, she got to eat it all. If she wasn’t quick, the cat got it first. Sometimes the crows got it. The crows she could chase off, but the cat was downright mean. She gobbled and snuffled with one eye out for the ferocious beast; but luckily, there was no cat today.
She stepped back from the bowl, licking her lips. What else could she find on the deck?
Water—there was always water in the bowl. The cat didn’t drink much, and didn’t mind sharing. The little dog was thirsty so she drank deeply. Then she had a quick look around.
Some bags of something that smelled nasty (fertilizer), a large potted plant that the cat had peed on, the smell of the human and cat on the doormat, and the scent of human on a pair of shoes. She sniffed carefully. She liked the warm human smell. She picked one shoe up. The fabric was soft in her mouth (canvas deck shoe). It had a sharp taste, very human (sweat).
She ran with the shoe in her mouth around the house, across the street, and into her private passageway through the berry canes and salal of the undeveloped lots. She felt safe in the comforting embrace of the forest. Her pace slowed. She had to hold her head up high to keep the shoe from snagging on the ferns and forest litter. She stopped by a fallen tree. The roots, ripped out of the ground, formed an immense fan shape, and were overgrown with moss and ferns. At the bottom of the fan in the dirt was a hollow which she had enlarged and deepened. She dropped the shoe into the hollow.
A fat drop of rain struck her one upraised ear. She heard the singing of the rain in the treetops; then she felt a wet sting on her nose. She wriggled down into her burrow.
It took awhile for her to rearrange the shoes to her satisfaction…
Wonder what happens to Alice and how she meets up with the Engineer? Continue your delight in Rescue Smiles, available in both paperback, kindle, and audiobook at these links: