July 16, 2018 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

The fear stink that comes off of the dog is enough to make Chase want to choke. He’s never met another canine that smelled like this before. It’s like he’s never known kindness before, like he’s never known what it’s like to not be afraid.

Chase looks over his shoulder, whining at WooFDriver. The human is crouched down, one hand extended in what’s meant to be an offering. “Easy,” says WooFDriver. “Come here, boy. It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you.”

“He won’t,” agrees Chase. “I promise that he won’t hurt you.”

But the dog takes a half step backwards, ears pinned and tail tucked. It looks like he’s getting ready to run. “They always hurt you.”

“He’s never hurt us,” says Princess, quickly. She’s a smart dog, that one. Quick as a whip, with a silver tongue and a thorn sharp mind. “Look, see? We love him!”

To help prove her point, Jag turns and throws himself at WooFDriver. The human easily wraps an arm around the husky dog, burying his hand in Jag’s fur. “See?” Jag licks WooFDriver on the face. “He’s a good person!”

Still, the dog doesn’t seem convinced. Confusion mingles with the otherwise acrid scent of terror. Chase walks to the very end of his lead, getting as close to the stray dog as he can. “Have you been out here for a long time?”

The dog nods.

“I’m sorry,” says Chase. “I got loose once. It was really scary. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I never found my way home. Awful, I bet. It looks like things have been awful for you, right?”

Another nod. The dog gives a low, miserable sounding whine.

“Well, my human can make things a whole lot less awful! You should give him a chance,” insists Chase. And then, because he needs this dog to believe him, he promises, “if you don’t like him, you can leave. We won’t make you stay here. That’s not how we do things. But this – this is my pack! I love my pack, and WooFDriver’s part of it. He’s a good, strong, awesome member. He’s basically the alpha, you know? He’s in charge of everything, and he makes sure we’re always taken care of, and that bad things don’t happen to us.”

Zarro, also keen on getting the stray dog to accept help, chimes in, “and if something bad does happen to us, he makes sure to do everything he can to fix it! I’m sure he can help you.”

The stray dog looks from husky to husky, from dog to human and back again. He sinks down onto the ground, like the thought of standing is just too much anymore. “Humans don’t like me. I’m a bad dog.”

“No,” says Chase, more fiercely than he originally intends. “There aren’t bad dogs. There are only bad people. But WooFDriver isn’t one of those bad people, and I can tell – I can tell he already likes you! Look, see? He wouldn’t be trying to get you to come over so badly if he didn’t!”

And it was true!

WooFDriver was cooing and baby-talking to the stray dog. He had his hand stretched out as far as he could, making promises about not hurting him and poor boy, you poor, poor boy.

Slowly, hesitantly, the stray dog belly crawls closer. Princess and Jag sit down, so as to make things more comfortable on the stray. Chase doesn’t, though. As soon as the stray dog is close enough, Chase bounds over to him, burying his nose in the dirty, tangled fur. “It’ll be okay,” he promises, because the fear scent is making him dizzy, and because no dog should ever be so terrified of anything, let alone a human, let alone WooFDriver. “It’ll be okay, I promise!”

WooFDriver takes a small, shuffling step closer. He sinks down onto his knees, curling down to put himself more on the same level as the stray dog. “Here, boy. Come here, come on, that’s a good boy, you’re such a good boy.”

“I’m not,” whimpers the stray dog. “What do I do when he realizes that?”

Chase licks the stray dog on the side of the face, then again on one of his floppy ears. “You are. You wouldn’t be worried about what he thought if you were a bad dog, right? And I already told you – I already told you, there’s no such thing as a bad dog. There are only bad people, okay? There are only bad people, and you don’t have to deal with them right now. WooFDriver’s good and are you.”

There’s a long moment where the stray dog does nothing. He just lays there, flat against the ground, and mulls over the words. And then, though it’s clear that he still doesn’t fully believe Chase, he pushes himself up to his paws.

Tail so low it’s almost dragging the ground, the stray dog takes a slow, small step towards WooFDriver.

And then he takes another – another – another and the fear scent gets just a little, tiny bit less.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author