The winter has finally begun with the first fall of snowflakes, gently sprinkling the ground, the leaves of bushes and treetops. The cold water of the marsh grew increasingly icy each day; each small chunk of ice hitting his legs as the water flowed past sent more bad vibes that his precious water home would soon be frozen. Chills sent endlessly over his skin, his shivering became violent, and despite this icy Russian land being the true home of his breed, his bony body and matted fur could barely keep him from the cold. He barely survived the last winter…and he hadn't a hope anymore that he was going to survive this one. The large black dog curled up finally after restlessly pacing the snow littered twigs and fallen leaves, easing his stress by falling to a deep slumber, hoping, praying that tomorrow will bring hope.
He woke to an unusual calmness in the air. The sun was surprisingly shining through dense clouds, the air was clear, aside from the soft, silent fall of snowflakes. The breeze was gentle, as well as the current of the water he lay beside. Perhaps his hope had come! He began to feel that something about this day felt right to him. He hoped further, that nothing would ruin this chance for him.
And just like that, his brightness was snatched away from him in an instant. A voice called to him. Not like any he’d heard on a daily basis, not the chirp of birds or the howl of wolves that travelled miles through the wind. This voice was different. It was human. His chills returned to him as fear struck him instantly.
It was a warm day for him. Not by the temperature of the air or the ground beneath him, but the happiness and comfort of his mother and fathers warming presence. His brothers and sisters nudged him for another rough play as soon as his eyes opened. He shot up quickly in excitement, but his lanky and awkward physique sent him tumbling down again. He struggled to find his stance with his 3 limbs, but never thought anything of it. His siblings and his parents never treated him any different, he played as rough as the others, he loved as much as anyone else, he lived as happy as any dog on earth.
The heavy doors burst open with a roar. His mother slunk down and wrapped herself around her babies. His father stood tall, hairs on end, and let out a snap and a snarl as the tall gruff man forced his way into the barn. The young pup never understood why his parents always kept on edge when the human arrived, but something about this tall, 2 legged creature seemed daunting on him as he grew closer. His voice was sharp and loud, almost like the fire of a gun breaking the silence of nature. He forced himself into his mothers’ long, soft fur in fright. He yelped loudly as a strong grip yanked at the scruff of his neck. He found himself reefed back from his mother, and hung in the fist of the man and watched his family cry out for him as he left the barn.
He found himself hurled in the back of a car. He tried to stagger up, but as the vehicle moved and swayed, he gave up and lay exhausted on his side. His fur stood on end as he feared where this dreaded monster was taking him. The vibration in the floor of the car ceased once they came to a stop. He breathed fast and heavy when he heard the man get out and walk towards the back door of the car. He was shocked at the fierce wind that raced at him when the door opened. He flinched when the man grabbed him, and he hung once again from his grip, curling his legs and tail up as much as he could, shivering ever so violently.
It was as if everything in that one moment occurred in slow motion. He had no control of himself, everything around him was a rapid blur. It felt as if gravity didn't exist.
He was thrown into the river.
Icy cold water hit him like a ton of bricks. He rolled and twisted in the dark murky water, swallowing big mouthfuls of the water as he gasped violently trying to breathe. His head rushed, and his sight dimmed almost to black. As he finally surfaced, light shot in his vision instantly, and he heaved as air rushed into his lungs. He gurgled however as water spilled into his mouth again. He thrashed violently until his legs finally found solid ground. Crawling and staggering his way up the weed ridden edges, he dropped and breathed heavy in relief that he finally made his way out of that murky hell.
In all the time he spent trying to find use of his legs, and despite the trauma of being hurled in the river, he somehow grew to find comfort in the water. The gentle currents allowed him to stand, and supported his missing limb. He found his legs in the water, and the idea of finding his way home through the long grass and harsh roads no longer seemed like an option for him. Even though he missed his home in the barn, and longed for the warm comfort of his family, the thought of that violent man came back and the thought of going home ceased. This was his new home. He spent endless days in misery and loneliness…but the crushing fear of leaving this place was enough to force him to get used to life in this swampland.
Years passed. He got used to the loneliness. He got used to the cold, and he got used to the hunger. Food was sparse, but he examined the behaviours of fellow animals around him, and he soon learned to hunt. He survived just, eating smaller game like birds and rodents. He even managed to catch a fish or two. The days went by; the nights came always harsh and cold. The winters were almost unbearable. He struggled greatly to survive the winter, it was a miracle he even survived long enough like this on his own, but he kept on. The winter snuck up fast this year, and as it grew closer each day, his hope slowly started to fade, as he dreaded the horrible season ahead…
He froze as he looked into the mans’ eyes. His voice was strong, but he spoke slow. He walked low and relaxed towards the ragged dog, his presence seeming almost comforting to him. But the look of this creature was enough to remind him of that day, that horrible day of being torn from his family. His heart dropped and his eyes welled as he remembered the look on his mothers’ face…that look of heartbreak and devastation as a piece of her heart was torn from her.
He closed his eyes and almost collapsed where he stood in the water. He was exhausted. Of all the time fighting to live in this place, of all the fear that racked his body, and the trauma that ached his head endlessly, he had enough.
He felt the large hands grip around his ribs; he jumped in fright as images of that day continuously stirred in his head. He hung limp in the mans’ hands as he was carried from his haven. The man spoke softly to him, and the chills on his skin slowly eased as the man gently stroked his fur. His mind slowly settled. He had no idea why he felt this way with this man, he had feared this creature for so long, that he surprised himself with his strange comfort to this man.
He was laid slowly in the front seat of his car, and gently reassured along the drive. Just like as a pup, he lay still in wonder where the man was taking him, but this time was different.
He finally felt hope again.----------------------------------------