It was a cool, brisk, september night. The stars were dancing, brighter, it seemed, to Jane, than they had danced in months. Jane sat on her back porch glider, gliding ever so slighlty, wrapped in a blanket sipping on a warm cup of hot coco.
Jane was starting to feel herself getting sleepy and her eyes were beginning to cross when she heard her mom call from the kitchen, “Jane, have you seen puff?” Puff was their fluffy golden retriever, mixed with other breeds of dog that they never really were sure of. Jane jerked her eyes to focus and became wide awake. “No.” she bellowed back to her mom. This was very unsettling to Jane, as she knew Puff was not one to just take off, or to even hide away. Jane’s mom, tall and slender with wisps of curly, blonde hair, walked out onto the porch. “I have looked for him everywhere. I even put out his treats to entice him to come out of hiding, if he was actually doing so. Jane, I can’t find him anywhere.”
Jane stood up, gathered her blanket and coco, then walked into the kitchen from the porch. “Puff, Puff.” Jane shouted in distress, but Puff never came. Jane felt her heart starting to break and tears started to weld up in her eyes. “Oh mom, where could he be?
What Happened To Puff?
Jane was sitting in her seat at school, her face and nose were bright red from crying all last night. Her heart was breaking from learning that her beloved dog had disappeared. Jane got him as a puppy, there was rarely a moment they were not together. “Hey Jane!” Jane’s friend, Casey, said as she sat in the seat behind her. Jane turned around and gave casey half a smile and respond with a, “good morning.” Casey was not always the greatest detective of someone’s troubles, but she lit up with knowledge today. “Why, Jane, what is it? Did you get a bad grade on a quiz?” Jane gave a somewhat more heart felt laugh. “No. Puff is missing. We looked everywhere for him. I’m afraid he may have been hit by a car or something.” “Mom even put out the treat that he loves so much and he didn’t come like he always does.”
“Oh Jane, I’m so sorry. That really stinks, I don’t know what I would do if I lost my fur baby. Maybe he just got lost and he will come home soon, you never know. Don’t lose hope, you could hang some lost posters.” “I will hang posters, but Puff never runs away, so I’m having trouble believing that is what happened, but maybe.” Jane said to Casey with a bit of doubt in her voice.
All throughout the day Jane felt like she would break out in tears. She found it hard to concentrate on her lessons, the teacher was going on and on and writing all the new material on the board, but Jane kept forgetting to take notes. All Jane could think about was her sweet boy. The day drifted by and finally the school bell rang. Jane picked up her purple backpack and made her way to the bus. Casey tried her best to cheer Jane up, but there wasn’t much use. Jane clearly was going to stay puffy eyed and red all over her face from crying. The bus stopped to let Jane off. Casey and Jane spoke their good byes as Jane walked toward her house, which was about five houses away. As Jane was walking, she noticed a glittering item in the grass below. She bent down to pick it up thinking maybe she had found some change that had been dropped. As she picked it up she saw it was not change after all, but in turning it over she saw it was a dog tag. It had her home address and phone number on it with the word, PUFF, above the adress. Jane started looking left and right calling for Puff, but he never came. Now she was sure he had not been hit by a car, but why was his dog tag off? She began to cry again and went home quickly to show her mom. “Mom! Look, I found Puffs tag!” Jane cried to her mom as she placed it in her hand. Jane went into her dads office and started printing out copies of her, “lost dog poster” with Puffs picture. Her mom gave her permission to go out side to hang the signs before supper. So, Jane ran out doors as quickly as she could and began hanging them on every pole she came across. Jane was getting ready to hang the poster on the third pole when she looked up and saw three other posters of missing dogs. They were all dogs of her friends. When she was small, she would play with them when she would go to their houses. Jane was starting to feel even more that something strange was going on. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but the fact that four dogs were missing made her feel like maybe there was something more to the fact of dogs just running away.
When Jane walked home, she crossed her neighbor’s yard that connected to her back yard. It was covered in fallen autumn leaves, many brown colors were scattered, along with tosses of orange, red, and a few remaining green. A sudden burst of wind came barreling through between the two houses where Jane was walking, much like a wind tunnel, which wasn’t that odd for this time of year. Between the houses was always like this, it also had a tendency to gather trash and bits and pieces of cheap, light weight broken toys. Jane looked down toward the ground trying to guard her eyes from the dirt that was now flying around her, that’s when she saw it, the light red dog collar. She recognized it right away. It belonged to one of the dogs on the lost dog poster. Jane picked it up and quickly put it in her pocket.
The moment she got in the door she went right to her mom and showed her. “Look at this, mom! Their dog is missing too, and I found this outside amongst the leaves, not too far from their house, just like I found Puff’s dog tag.” Jane cried out in dismay. “Oh mom! I don’t understand it. Why are we finding all these things, but our pets are missing?” Jane’s mom didn’t say much, but her lips tightened and her brow went into, what Jane thought, looked like the tightest anger frown she had ever seen on her moms pretty, usually smiling, face.
Jane walked back outside, feeling her heart tightening with so many emotions. She decided she should take a walk and try to calm down, because she, herself, was beginning to feel anger filling her mind.
As Jane walked along the small, quaint little housing development’s sidewalk, she noticed the deep smell of the pine trees. Jane thought, it’s amazing how the smell of the pines is strong during the fall days. She never could smell them until mid September, and she did enjoy inhaling deeply, to take in their aroma.
Jane walked for about fifteen minutes, than made her way back home. She walked in the front door, went to her backpack and pulled out her binders and folders to get started on her homework. It was hard for Jane to study, being all she could think of was that her and many of her friends pets were missing.
The next day Jane awoke to hearing her mom call from down stairs. Jane, get up, you are sleeping the day away.” It was Saturday and Jane loved to sleep in, but she didn’t want to sleep the whole day away, so she asked her mom to wake her. Jane bounced out of bed, and headed for the bathroom. She brushed her teeth, washed her face, and began to brush her hair. She felt like she could have slept many more hours, it was as if she didn’t sleep well last night, but she didn’t remember not being able to sleep, so she wasn’t sure why she felt so incredibly groggy. As Jane went down stairs to get something to eat, the phone rang. “I’ll get it” Jane shouted toward the kitchen to her mom.
“Hello?” Jane spoke. It was one of the neighbors down the street, she wanted to speak to Jane. “I think I saw your missing dog, Jane. I was walking in the park and saw someone walking him. This person had on a black hoodie, sun glasses and jeans. I have no idea who it was, it was almost as if they were disguising themslef.” “Are you sure, what makes you think it was puff?” Jane inquired. Because I saw that distinct black mark on the dog’s tail. No other dog in the neighborhood looks like that.” The neighbor said with excitement.
Jane asked where they went so she could go get her pup, but all she got was that the person took off rather quickly when they noticed they were being watched.
Jane hung up the phone and started to feel the tears filling her eyes. Her mom walked over to her and gave her a tight hug. It felt like the kind of hug she used to give her when she was really little, the kind that was described as the great big bear hug. Jane’s mom always gave her the bear hug when she was hurt, or sad. She hadn’t had a bear hug in a few years, as far as she could remember, and it felt good to have this one, because her heart felt like it was breaking into a million pieces. Jane said to her mom, in between the uncontrollable sobs, “why would anyone take my dog? I don’t understand how anyone could just take someone else’s dog. And what about my friends, their dogs are missing, too. Do you think this person took their dog as well?” Jane’s mom gave the only answer she could honestly give. “I don’t know, sweetheart.”
Jane decided she would go to the park, in hopes that maybe her dog would show up again. Maybe she could catch the person in the black hoodie, maybe she could walk right up to him, or her and yank Puff’s leach right out of their stealing hands. Jane saw many pups that day. Some short, some tall, some black, others brown, and some golden, but non that was her Puff. Jane started asking around if anyone had seen Puff. Jane thought, if someone had her dog there, surely someone would have seen him, other than her one neighbor. No one had seen him, no one even recalled a person in a black hoodie and sunglasses. Jane felt beside herself with what to do. What could she do? She had nothing else to go on, it was all hopeless. Here she was, standing in a park that her beloved pup had been in, but had no idea where he was taken from there. Jane sat down for a minute to calm herself down, she felt herself starting to build tears up, but she didn’t want to sit there, crying, in front of all of the people. As Jane looked up she saw one of her other neighbors heading toward her. It was Sam, the tall, fair skinned, red haired woman that lived a couple of houses down from her. “Hi Jane.” Sam called to her, as she sat beside her on the park bench. “How are you today” Jane looked up at Sam, her eyes still slightly red and puffy from crying earlier that day. Just as Sam looked at Jane and saw the swollen eyes, she lost the smile on her face. “Oh Jane, I’m sorry I, I just wanted, well, I needed to…” Jane looked at Sam in confusion. “What?” Jane questioned. Sam instantly pasted a smile back on her face and started talking all bubbly again, as if she had never even started to apologize about something. Jane sat there, listening to Sam ramble on for the next forty five minutes about meaningless stuff. Jane thought Sam would never get tired, but suddenly, Sam jumped up and said, very suddenly, “well, I have to get home. I have all the.” Sam stopped and looked at Jane with a look of regret on her face, then she continued, “I have all the laundry to wash. Take care Jane.” Jane gave a half hearted smile and said, “you too, Sam.” After that, Sam was gone in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Jane sat there for a good many more minutes, going over the strangeness of the conversation with Sam. Sam was friendly, had always been nice when Jane would see her from the street. She was also nice when they took their pets into her office for check ups and rabies shots. She always smile and waved in public, but never had spoken to Jane near as much as she had just now with this last conversation.
It was getting close to supper time, so Jane thought she had best get up and start walking toward home. When Jane stood up she saw a dog treat sitting beside her. A small bone shaped treat, just like the ones they gave out at the vet’s office. That funny, Jane thought to herself, as she bent over to pick it up. I don’t remember that being there when I sat down. Jane walked home, went in the front door where the smell of, cooked ham, green beans, and potatoes filled her nostrils. Jane had no idea how hungry she was until the enticing smell overwhelmed her senses. I just need to calm down for a while and stop thinking about Puff, I will find him. Tomorrow, I’m going to start walking all over the neighborhood. I will find him, Jane said to herself, make no doubt about that.
The next morning, Sunday, Jane awoke around her usual time. She was so grateful it was the weekend. Jane loved school, it was a bit more intense than middle school was, but she loved learning new things, and loved to give her brain a challenge. She was in honors classes, a team leader in some social clubs, and she loved being part of the skii club. Jane felt life was heading in just the right direction, but she adored her weekends to catch up on sleep and relax after her long weeks grind. Jane forced herself out of bed and went on to start the day. After breakfast, more like brunch, really, because she slept most of the morning away, she put her shoes on, walked out the door and started her mission to knock on every door in the neighborhood to see if anyone had seen Puff, or knew of anyone that had a dog when they didn’t have one before.
Jane went, door to door, asking with all the hope she could, but with every answer, she became more discouraged. No one had seen Puff and no one knew anything about any new dog owners. Jane felt her heart breaking all over again. She had so much hope when she first awoke, but now, she was starting to feel as she did when Puff first went missing. Jane decided to cut through the park on her way home, at least to look at the remaining flowers in the gardens. The look of blooming mums and colorful fall leaves scattered all over the ground was breath taking for Jane. It gave her joy and made her feel peaceful to take in all the beautiful scenery, specially when she was feeling down in her heart. Jane was walking, looking at the beautiful colors, trying to lift her spirit and get out of her own personal funk, when she heard a faint barking. Jane knew their were other dogs there, but this was different. This bark had the playful familiarity that she had heard so many times in the past. It sounded just like Puff! Jane looked around, quickly, her eyes looking back and forth, as quickly as she could make them look. Then she saw it. It was that person with the black hoodie. Jane froze for about two seconds, then she began to run as fast as she could. “Puff, PUFF!” Jane shouted louder and louder. The person in the hoodie looked right at Jane, and as fast as they made eye contact, the person ran away, dragging the pup behind them. The hoodie flew off their head and Jane saw it was a woman. She had bright red hair. Jane knew those eyes, she knew the hair, and she definitely knew that dog! Jane ran home as fast as she could, barreling leg over leg, nearly falling down multiple times. She crashed through the front door, nearly giving her mom a heart attack. “JANE!” Her mom shouted at her with a look of pure shock on her face, she hadn’t seen Jane act this way since she was just a little kid. Jane caught her breath, in between times of speaking and telling her mom everything that just happened. Jane had knocked on Sam’s door, when inquiring about Puff and new dog owners, but Sam hadn’t been home, she must have been at the park. Jane’s mom called the police and told them everything that Jane had told her. The police told them to remain calm and they would look into the situation.
While Jane waited, for what seemed like many hours, she felt butterflies all through her stomach, she was so excited, but felt half sick too. She had known Sam for a long time, it didn’t make any sense that Sam would do this to her, and what about the other dogs, did she have them too? Jane was beside herself when the phone rang, she jumped off the recliner and gave a hurried, “hello!” It was the police, they had Puff, but needed her to come identify the dog, to be sure it was indeed hers.
When Jane showed up, Puff bounded and leaped at Jane, licking her all over her face, while wagging his tail so hard that Jane wasn’t sure if the dog was wagging or the tail was. Sam stood there, glaring at Jane, then her face softened. “Jane, I wasn’t trying to hurt him, or you. I just. I lost my own pup a few months ago, he was hit by a car and the only way I could cope was to keep my favorite dogs from my veterinarian clinic. I felt close to them. I just wanted to be happy.” Jane looked at Sam with some sympathy, but couldn’t speak, she was too close to crying from of the hurt she felt from the betrayal. Jane took Puff out the door and they both walked home.
The papers printed, at a later date, that DR. Sam Smith was charged with endangerment and animal cruelty, and thievery. Sam had been sedating the dogs, so that no one would hear them in her own home and rise suspicion. She would take one dog at a time off of sedation, and treat it as though it was her pet by going for walkes, feeding it, and loving all over it, then continue the rotation with sedating the other dogs. Sam’s business was shut down and she spent a good amount of time behind bars.
Jane was very angry at what Sam had done, but she also felt bad. She knew how bad it was to lose a pet, so she went the the jail and took a picture of Puff with her to visitation. Jane handed Sam the photo and told her, “what you did is not ok. I will never ever trust you again, but I feel for you as well. I forgive you for what you did, but I do not excuse your behavior.” Sam took the photo and looked at it with loving eyes, that now began to weep. “I really am sorry, Jane.” She said in a low tone of shame. Jane smiled and said, “I know.” Then she walked out of the jail, feeling relieved that she was able to forgive and that her pup was alive and well. She strolled down the side walk with Puff and her mom, they decided to go to the park for a while before heading home to play some fetch with Puff’s favorite frisbee.