Dog Tales
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Dog Tales

Reiley’s Exile

The mother and children wept and hung around my neck.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Dear Sasha.

Dear, dear Sasha. I don’t know what to write. You may not even get this letter, but if you do you are hearing from the most unhappy dog in all the world.

It happened so quickly.

The mother had noticed my shoulder and started bathing it and rubbing ointment on it.

The father then noticed and said I must go to the place where “down” is, you know, the vet. The mother argued about the bad things that happen to immigrants when they get authorities involved.

After a few days she had to agree that I was getting worse. The swelling and pain were spreading. My neck was swollen. I didn’t want to eat anymore. Drinking was really difficult.

The father lifted me into the car. The mother and children wept and hung around my neck. They told me they loved me and knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. I licked their faces and hands and I will always remember their smells and taste no matter what happens to me.

We drove to the place where I could smell all the other dogs and cats who had entered and never left. Alive, anyway. I expect there is a huge pile of bodies somewhere out back. I’ve only seen dead squirrel bodies. Oh and that bird, but birds don’t count, do they?

There was another dog sitting among the chairs. I growled at it and bared my teeth. They put me in a separate room.

The father told them I had been bitten. They asked why he didn’t bring me in right away. He said they hadn’t noticed the wound.

They asked if we had any details about the dog that bit me. Had it an owner?


Had it had all its inoculations?

The father didn’t know.

Did I have all my inoculations?

Yes, I had to when I left the home country.

How long ago was that?

Six months since we arrived, but it had been a few months before that that I had the shots.

Had I been acting more aggressively recently?


Suddenly I had a muzzle on. The vet jabbed me with a sharp needle. I was hustled into a cage at the back of the office. The father didn’t have time to say goodbye to me.

Later that day I was taken from that cage, in a cage in a van, to this other place where you may find me. It is dark, bare, and sterile. The stench from the cleaning chemicals makes me dizzy.

Dogs bark day and night. I bark too, but I don’t have very much energy. There is medicine in my food, but I don’t eat. Three times a day someone comes to put a muzzle on me and jab me.

I miss my family. I miss my warm bed and my toys. I miss romping in the grass and going to fetch the children at the playground with the building that sucks them in and spits them out.

Oh Sasha. What does all this mean? I howl with the other dogs. Maybe next letter I’ll tell you what they have told me about this place. I’m just going to lie down and sleep now. There is nothing else to do and I don’t feel like doing it anyway.

Your very sad friend,


Dear Reiley,

I did get your letter. I could smell the disinfectant chemicals in the ink.

I am more worried about you than ever! The gang at the park talk about nothing but your situation. They all send their love and best butt sniffs.

We thought we would send news of the gang to cheer you up. The dry weather is coming back. We can run outside without clouds of bugs stinging us.

The puppies are all grown up and gone to their new homes. Their mum is a bit sulky, but really she is happy to be free again.

Three balls were lost in the swamp beside the walking space last week. We can sniff a new creature in the swamp and nobody wants to go in and look for balls. Our owners sigh. It’s their fault really. They throw badly.

We got news of Crimpy. We hadn’t seen him for a while but Gora got a sniff of him when she visited a new neighbourhood. When she went back she went for a walk and sniffed him behind a fence. He is fine. Enjoying a new home, kind of like you, but not as far away.

Oh, Reiley. We all wish you were not so far away. We think you are in quarantine, which is a waiting space to see whether you get sicker from being bitten. We all hope that by the time you get this letter you feel a lot better and are back home with your family.

Try to eat a little something. Really. Not eating is not the way to stay strong.

With all our love and best wishes for a full recovery,

Sasha and the gang.

I was love-mauled by a giant Shepherd-Pyrenees today! What a hug they give us! For pictures of my Lab-Pyrenees, go to Go ahead and poke around in the website for all the other stuff I have too!



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Nicola MacCameron

Nicola MacCameron

Are you creative? Everything I touch turns to art. Visual art, written, aural, tactile, you name it, I love it! Author of Leoshine, Princess Oracle.