Some years ago, around 2002, I suddenly got the inspiration to write the completely fictional short story below. I sat down at the computer and wrote it in about 30 minutes. I printed it and gave to my wife to read – she did so and then threw it at me, burst into tears and asked “How do you dare give this to me to read?” Well, I was somewhat thrown, not sure how to handle it as I did not think it was that sad…
Skipping on until 2003 my wife was out working in Johannesburg when I got a call from her, it was quite short, “I found Minnie!” At that point I knew we had another dog.
Here is the complete, unedited, original version, with the follow up at the end:
“Who are all these strange people,” Minnie thought to herself, “they certainly don’t look and act like the usual party crowd.”
Things had been a little strange around the house the last couple of weeks, boxes appeared, cupboards were emptied into the boxes and furniture moved around.
Minnie had wondered about this, but Joe and Sally had been the same towards her all the time, so she wasn’t particularly worried. Today, however, is very different. The strangers are carrying the boxes out of the house and disappearing with them and Sally is just standing there looking at them, sometimes even smiling.
Joe, unusually for this time of day, is also home, but he is running around talking to the strangers and spending a lot of time outside or talking on his cell phone.
As the house slowly starts emptying of boxes, the strangers start taking the furniture out as well.
“Could these be the thieves that Joe was always on about?” Minnie wonders to herself. “No, can’t be, because Joe always said they will not come while he is here and that they are bad people. These cannot be bad people, not if Sally is smiling at them.”
Minnie is by now feeling a little bit perturbed. Why are the strangers taking everything? Where are they taking it?
This is certainly not what happens when Joe and Sally goes away for a few days – the rest of the things stay in the house, they only take a suitcase or two with them. Maybe they are going for a long holiday and need to take everything with them?
Yes, that is it, there they go to the car with a big suitcase!
Like every time in the past that Joe and Sally went on holiday, Minnie runs to the side gate to watch them leave and wish them a safe journey. Not like every time, though, Joe and Sally just leave without even looking back.
“Oh well, at least now I have the whole house to myself gain for a few days and I can lie in the sun on the couch without anyone complaining.”
“Oh, oh. What is going on here, my door is closed, I can’t get back into the house?”
Minnie is now starting to get really worried, where is her food and how is she going to get in and have a drink of water? Joe and Sally have always been so careful to leave her door open for her. Something is wrong here, very wrong.
As it starts to get dark, Minnie takes yet another run around the house, trying to spot an open door or window. Nothing, there is not even a light on anywhere.
Thirsty and very hungry, Minnie goes back to the side gate, sure that Joe and Sally will be back soon.
By nine o’clock she feels panicky and starts shouting for help. Not too loudly as Joe had always told her to be quiet and not disturb the neighbours, but this is starting to become a real emergency. Minnie cannot understand what is going on, she has never been outside this late on her own and it is very dark and scary out here.
Eventually, tired, hungry and cold, Minnie curls up into a little ball at the gate, too scared to go away in case she misses Joe and Sally’s return. Sleep comes with difficulty and only in very short bursts – every time a car drives down the road Minnie wakes up to listen if it is them…it never is.
By sunrise Minnie has realised that maybe Joe and Sally are not coming back. At least not soon. But they will come back, they always have in the past.
Minnie is now severely tempted to use her secret hole to go next door, but is afraid that if she does that, she will miss them when they come home.
Too scared to leave the gate, she sits in the sun waiting. Very hungry and very thirsty.
By that evening Minnie decides to find a warmer place to sleep, sure that she will hear the car in time to get to the gate and greet Joe and Sally.
Again she goes to every door and window, but they are still locked. In desperation she overturns the dustbin, a very naughty thing to do, she knows. Digging around in the stuff that fell out, she finds scraps of food, scraps she would never have eaten, but she is so hungry.
After eating the worst meal of her life, Minnie burrows into the dustbin. It smells awful, but it is warm and she feels a lot safer. Settling down she falls asleep and dreams of lying in bed with Joe and Sally and remembers sharing Joe’s morning toast with him…
In the middle of the night Minnie is suddenly wide awake, was that a car she heard? Is that not maybe them? She runs to the gate, nothing, she must have dreamt it.
Walking despondently back to the dustbin, her bed, she realises that it must have rained sometime during the time she had slept. Thirstily she licks at the grass, getting the first water into her in days. She remembers the place by the back door where it always forms a puddle when it rains. The one that annoyed Sally so much because Joe would never fix it. Minnie runs there and finds the most glorious sight she has ever seen – a big puddle of water, more than she could ever drink. Thirst slaked and tummy full, Minnie crawls back in the dustbin and sleeps peacefully till morning.
Minnie wakes up to voices. She leaps out of the dustbin, scattering bits of rubbish everywhere and runs straight into a man’s legs. Not Joe’s legs, but a human being at least.
“Where the hell did this mutt come from? It is filthy, get rid of it immediately!” I all Minnie hears before she feels a hard kick against her side that sends her flying.
She runs for her secret hole, but is so weak from hunger that the stranger easily catches her. “Not so fat, you are not going to hang around here to pester us! I am getting rid of you right away.”
Unceremoniously Minnie is thrown in the boot of a car and she feels the car driving off. Now very, very scared, Minnie wets herself and the car, but she no longer cares, Joe and Sally has forgotten about her, why should she care?
The car stops and Minnie hears footsteps, the boot opens and she gets picked and thrown out. Landing in tall grass, luckily unhurt, she looks around as she hears the boot slam and the car drive off. She has no idea where she is, on the one side is tall grass and on the other a road with a lot of cars going very fast.
Not sure of what to do, Minnie decides that she would rather go where she can see and starts to cross the road…
What happened next is that my wife saw this almost black little dog next to a busy highway close to Soweto and promptly stopped and called it over. Highly unusual for a stray dog, it immediately went to her and she loaded it in the car and took it to the rescue centre in Pretoria.
Apparently it was quite smelly and very dirty. Once it had been given a good bath, it turned out to be a white Maltese cross-breed. Obviously Minnie came home a couple of days later and moved in like it had lived there its entire life – got on famously with all the other dogs and cats!
The vet and us, suspected that Minnie was about six years old when we got him and severely malnourished – He eventually lost all his teeth, but happily ate everything put in front of him.
In 2010 Minnie was diagnosed with diabetes and given about six months to live. We gave him daily insulin injections for the next year until he became insulin resistant and we had to finally say goodbye.
This is the last photo we have of Minnie, toothless, diabetic, but still trying to play - RIP Minnie, you are in a good place.