"Hey, you two are new here, right?"
"Yep. We just came in today."
"I'm Ginger. That's Chipper in the next cage. The terrier in the third cage is Jacko.
He's half asleep, but I'm sure he's listening."
"I'm Daisy and this is Violet."
Violet averted her eyes as she wagged her pom-pom poodle tail nervously.
"Aw, don't be scared," Ginger said. "The people here are pretty friendly."
"She's still in shock." Daisy blocked one side of her mouth with her paw and
whispered, "Our owners."
"What did they do to you, honey?" Ginger asked as she put a motherly paw on Violet's
Violet started trembling so hard that she couldn't answer.
"I know," Ginger said, wagging her head sadly, her crinkly cocker spaniel ears
flopping back and forth.
"The man hit us with a rolled up newspaper," Daisy said. "Really hard, if he caught us
drinking out of the toilet. He threw Violet into the street, in front of an oncoming car,
because she made a mess in the house. She couldn't hold it in any longer. The driver
slammed on the brakes and tried to swerve out of the way, but he accidentally hit her."
Ginger gasped. "Oh, you poor little thing!" she wailed as she embraced Violet.
"The vet fixed her up. That was right before we wound up in here."
"Well, thank goodness you got through it, sugar," Ginger said as she rocked Violet in
her arms. "You're still with us, and don't you worry. You're going to be just fine now. What a
pretty girl you are, too! Looks like those mean old owners took you to a top-notch groomer,
at least. Not too many poodles come through the door here looking this good."
Violet smiled shyly.
"I know how you girls feel," Chipper told Daisy and Violet as he craned his neck inside
the cage next to them. "My owner used to smack me around, too, if I barked while he was
watching a football game. He used to say, 'Shut up, you ugly mutt!' He didn't say that when
he first adopted me. He used to say I was the most beautiful yellow lab he ever saw." He
lowered his head as a single tear dropped from his eye and fell into his water bowl,
creating a soft kerplunk that sounded like a puppy's whimper. "I don't understand. I was so
good to him. I jumped all over him and licked him every day when he came home from
work. I fetched his umbrella whenever it rained. Once I even scared away a couple of
intruders who tried to break into the house. And all for what? Where did it get me?"
"Yeah, we've all been there," Ginger said. "The mean old lady I lived with--she threw
me down a flight of stairs. Don't know what I did wrong, but what can you do? I suffered a
concussion. One of my paws was in a sling for over a week. And now here I am. Been here
for months and not one person who comes in here wants me. Sure, some of them pick me
up and ooh and ahh. They stroke me a little bit, but that's about it. And I thought people
liked cocker spaniels!"
"Oh, shut up, everyone!" Jacko hollered.
Violet jolted so hard in Ginger's arms that Ginger fell backward and knocked down
Daisy. Chipper whirled his head around and gave Jacko a look that was equal parts confusion
"Calm down, Jacko!" he cried.
"Shut up, I say! I'm sick and tired of hearing all these sob stories, day in and day out.
Makes me want to kill myself!"
"No, don't go doing that, Jacko. That's all we need. Then we'll be even more
"Now everybody quiet and listen up, because I've got something to say." Jacko was
no longer sleepy-eyed. He was sitting up now, poised as straight as a lieutenant general in
the Marines. "And I don't want to have to repeat myself."
"We're listening, Jacko. What is it?"
"If I have to wake up one more day and listen to one more sob story, then someone
around here is going to suffer a hurrendously gory death. You understand what I'm saying?"
"Now, Jacko, don't be melodramatic."
Jacko narrowed his dark brown eyes at Chipper and uttered a growl that sounded like
a coffee grinder on the fritz. Chipper promptly closed his mouth and flopped his belly on the
cold cage bottom.
"Now, fellas, let's get something straight," Jacko continued in a commanding voice
that made Violet tremble again and cling to Ginger. "We are not going to have any more of
these pathetic pity parties. The past is over and done. From here on out, we are going to
make it our mission to be happy. And we are never going to throw in the towel. We are going
to wake up every single day with an even stronger resolve to be happy than the day before.
We are never, under any circumstances whatsoever, going to give up that quest for
happiness. Do you get that? Sure, those humans want to kick us around and treat us like we
don't count for anything important. But we know what they're all full of, don't we?"
"Ha ha!" Ginger laughed.
"I mean, seriously, where do they get off, treating us that way?"
"Yeah! Who do they think they are?" Chipper said, suddenly feeling more fired up with
rage and less depressed.
Jacko raised one paw in the air. "Everybody, here are the thoughts that we have to
keep in our minds every night before we fall asleep. We are NOT going to let sadness defeat
"No way!" Ginger shouted.
"We are not going to let loneliness defeat us."
"You tell 'em, Jacko!" Chipper said as he sliced the air with his paw.
"We are not going to spend the rest of our lives moping around like a bunch of
pathetic fools, thinking we don't have any purpose in this world unless someone adopts us.
Remember who we are, folks. Be proud of who we are. We are DOGS!"
"All right!" the others shouted in unison.
"We are survivors!"
"You rock, Jacko!"
"We are not going to spend one more day crying, whining, and complaining about our
troubles from the past. We're just going to make like all those terrible things never even
happened. We are going to wake up every morning and say to ourselves, 'This is a new day.
We've got another chance for things to get better.' We are going to hold our heads high,
because we are not alone."
"And don't you forget it, folks," Jacko pressed on. "We've got each other. We've got
friends. Who knows whether our past owners still have their friends?"
"I hope not!" Daisy said.
"Maybe their friends gave up on them a long time ago."
"Serves 'em right!" Chipper said.
"But we would never do that to each other, would we?" Jacko shook his head. "No
siree. We stand by each other no matter what. And that's how it's going to be, amigos. You
and me. Even if every day that goes by, people come in and out of this place and don't even
give us a second look. What do we say to that, everybody?"
"They can all go take a flying leap!" Ginger said. "We don't need them."
"That's right, because we are not going to let anybody or anything bring us down
"You said it!"
Now the rest of the dogs in the shelter were cheering, too, including Violet.
"And as for our past owners," Jacko said, "if they didn't want us, then that's THEIR
loss. We are not going to let it break our hearts."
"Hell no!" everyone shouted.
"We are not going to let it destroy our spirits. Are we, guys?"
"NO WAY! GO, JACKO! WOO HOO!"