Dognapped ~ a Photostory

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I’d taken the dogs out for a walk, making the most of the sunny afternoon. The rainy weather had finally blown over, and it was delightful to be outside again!

The five dogs in my custody barked and bounded about, tugging on their leashes. It was a challenge, keeping a hold of all those dogs, filled to the brim with energy. Let’s just say that they weren’t the only ones who got a workout.

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Ivy had generously let me borrow her iPhone so I could take pictures on my outing. I had what I called a photo-diary, so I took pictures of everything I did to add to it. It was basically a scrapbook, but I thought photo-diary sounded cooler.

I fished Ivy’s phone out of my bag so I could photograph the dogs horsing around in front of me. I had to shift all of their leashes into my non-dominate left hand so I could open the camera app, which turned out to be a very, very bad idea. The dogs strained on their leashes while I fiddled with the phone, and as I was waiting for the app to open, the pressure of the dogs on my hand went away. Once I’d set up the camera app, I triumphantly held up the phone and tilted it this way and that as I searched for the dogs so I could photograph them. But they weren’t on my left. Panic rose in my chest as I slowly lowered the phone away from my face, dreading what I might see.

Emptiness.

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I spun around, searching for the missing dogs. I caught a glimpse of them racing away from me, leashes trailing behind them, just before they veered off the sidewalk.

“Stop!” I hollered, sprinting after them. “Leo, Boo, Coconut, Chocolate Chip, Rembrandt! Come back!”

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I reached the spot where I’d last seen the critters and paused to catch my breath.

What if I never find them? I wondered miserably. What if they don’t want to be found?

I squared my shoulders and tried to figure out what to do. “Well, I have to find them, obviously,” I muttered to myself. “Searching in the direction that they ran in would be the best way to do that, I suppose.”

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But I’d been so shocked when they ran off that I could hardly remember if they had leaped off the right or the left of the sidewalk. Glancing around for a hint, I spotted a few crushed leaves lying in the grass on the right side of the path. A person could have done that, sure, but it was my only lead. Hoping that I was on the right track, I stepped over the leaves and walked along, calling the dogs’ names.

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After a few minutes, I stumbled upon Leo, Emily’s brand new teacup puppy. Being so tiny, he must not have been able to keep up with the larger dogs.

I crouched beside a panting Leo and stroked his soft fur. “Where are the others, hmm, little guy?” I murmured, grabbing his leash so he couldn’t run off.

In response, Leo gave a high-pitched bark and pressed her snuffling nose to the ground. He’d caught the scent of the runaways!

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Holding tightly to Leo’s leash, I let him lead me to what I hoped was my sisters’ unharmed pets. I followed him through a park for several minutes before he barked again and pulled me toward the road. There were the four missing dogs, gathered around an old woman in a shapeless floral dress. Despite the sunshine, she was bundled up in a brick red scarf, cream sweater, and cozy-looking black and white boots that she shouldn’t have worn with her shortbread-colored dress. Old people were always cold.

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“Hello!” I called, jogging toward the old woman, with a wide smile of relief on my face. “Thank you for finding my dogs. I hope they didn’t cause you any problems.”

Upon laying eyes on me, the woman scooped up Coconut and stuffed Isabelle’s fluffy white dog into a green bin strapped to the moped behind her. With stunning speed, she shoved Chocolate Chip and Rembrandt into the bin with Coconut. She crammed the smallest dog, my very own Boo, into a cotton candy-pink pet carrier tied to the moped.

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I hardly had the time to think She’s dognapped them! before the elderly woman gunned the motor and sped away on her pink and limegreen scooter.

“STOP!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, standing there helplessly as she drove away with my pets. “Someone, help me! That woman stole my dogs!” I glanced desperately around the park, looking for someone who had heard my plea. But the park was empty.

It was up to me to save the pets.

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Before I really knew what I was doing, I’d whipped out Ivy’s phone and taken a picture of the woman puttering down the street with my dogs in tow. The photo captured her license plate: OG<3GIRL. It probably stood for Old Granny Girl or whatever. But I wasn’t interested in figuring out what her license plate meant — the police could track her down with the information I’d gathered. That was the reason I’d taken the picture.

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At the speed she was going — she’d only just pulled away from the curb — I guessed that I might be able to run alongside her. Then I could follow her home and rescue the dogs myself. That seemed to be the better plan, so I sprinted down the sidewalk that ran along beside the road, almost keeping pace with the old lady’s scooter. Leo whimpered and raced after me.

As I turned a corner, still trailing the woman, I decided that if I lost sight of her, then I would call the police. Only then. Because I, I was sure, could save my pets without the help of the police. She was just an old woman, after all.

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The woman turned onto a private drive after awhile, and I slowed down. If I drew too close, she would see me, and heaven knows what would happen then. She might start going ten miles per hour, and I didn’t have the energy left to keep up with her much longer.

Fortunately, at that moment, she parked next to a beige plant reaching up from a flower bed. I stopped jogging completely, stopped breathing, even, waiting to see what she would do next.

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The woman eased off of the moped and lifted the dogs out of their cages. She gripped the leashes like her life depended on it, dragging the dogs toward her house. Chocolate Chip and Coconut, who’d had the best seats in the house, surged ahead, while Rembrandt and Boo nervously lagged behind. No wonder; Boo had been trapped in a pet carrier, which bumped against the moped with every pothole, and Rembrandt had been squished beneath Chocolate Chip and Isabelle’s dog.

“Puppies,” the woman cooed, meandering up the walk to her porch. “Sweet puppies, puppies . . .”

And that was when it occurred to me that she was going to lock them up in her home. I might never see them again, ever. I needed to act now.

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I dashed up to the porch and shouted, “Stop right there, lady!” I waved Ivy’s phone at her. “Give me my dogs back, or I’ll call the police!”

She shot me an unconcerned look and continued walking along.

“I’ll do it,” I threatened. “I’ll call them!”

She strolled along, unperturbed.

I tucked the phone into my purse and clenched my fists. She was just an old, frail woman, and I was a strong, healthy ten-year-old. If she refused to return the dogs, I would fight her for them.

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Plucking a piece of mulch off the ground, I commanded, “Fetch!” and the dogs (all except Leo, who was cowering behind me) bounded after it. The woman fell to the ground and lost her grip on the dogs’ leashes.

“Good dogs!” I praised, throwing another chunk of mulch for them so they wouldn’t instantly come running back to me, begging for something else to fetch. I needed the time to confront the woman.

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I pounced on her, pinning her down. She was whispering about her old, creaky joints, and then, randomly, she cried, “Sweet puppies!”

I looked her in the eye and demanded sternly, enunciating clearly, “Why did you take my dogs?”

“Sweet puppies . . .”

“Tell me! Why did you take them?”

“Sweet, sweet puppies . . .”

After that went on for five minutes, I sat back on my heals and sighed. I wasn’t getting anywhere. The newly-freed woman scrambled to her feet and rushed into her house, locking the door behind her.

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I stumbled off the porch, collapsed onto the ground, and was immediately surrounded by the dogs. They covered me in puppy kisses, and  suddenly my eyes filled with tears. I’d almost lost them all. For good.

Maybe the woman had just lost her marbles. That was the only explanation I had for her strange behavior.

But I didn’t care anymore. I was so glad to be reunited with my dogs that nothing else even seemed to matter.

Something Important Happened on the 29th . . .

You just have to pretend that today is the 29th of September, and not the first day of October (oh, hello, October!), alright? Good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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On your birthday, you’d typically expect to wake up to the delicious smell of breakfast being carried right to your bed. Maybe you’d get bacon and pancakes and cocoa to eat. But being poked and prodded by your best friend, having your cheeks pinched and your nose wiggled back and forth . . . that’s not exactly the best wake-up-it’s-your-birthday thing.

Of course that’s what I got.

I cracked one eye open groggily and peered up at Molly. “Could you stop?” I moaned, scowling at her.

She smiled and pinched my cheek one more time.

I rolled onto my side so I was facing her. “It’s my birthday.”

“Yeah.”

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I dragged myself sluggishly out of bed. Molly helpfully found my glasses for me and stuck them on my face, prodding the end into my eye before she got the glasses on correctly.

The weird thing about birthdays here is that you never know when the party will happen, if ever. We might celebrate before school, at lunch time, at ten-o-clock at night. It could be a week after your special day before anyone remembers your birthday.

The way Molly was helping to put my glasses on told me that we might celebrate in the morning.

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I wandered sleepily toward the stairs, but as I turned away from the bunk bed that I shared with Molly I saw ALL of my sisters crammed into the right side of the third floor. When I spotted them, they shouted, “Happy birthday!” in several languages: English (of course), Spanish, French, Greek, even Latin.

It made my inner nerd happy.

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Growing more awake by the second, I made my way over to my family and sat down in front of my presents. Our cat, who was recently given the name Lyric, strutted over to me, and I scratched her behind the ear. She purred with pleasure.

“So, which present should I open first?” I asked once Lyric had walked away. I probably sounded rather rude, blurting that out and not thanking them for the cool multilingual “happy birthday.” But I’d just woken up, and my sisters knew that I couldn’t function normally until about ten AM.

“One of the small ones,” Molly replied.

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There were two small presents — one wrapped in purple, the other green — and I selected the green one first. I’ve always loved trying to guess what was in a box by the sound it makes, so I shook the gift back and forth beside my ear. All I heard was a faint jingle.

Not knowing what it could possibly be, I decided just to go ahead and open the gift.

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I ripped off the chartreuse paper and found, lying inside a clear plastic box, a sky-blue headband and a bracelet with lime, tangerine, and amethyst-colored beads.

I blinked. “Pretty,” I remarked. I actually did like them; I was just too tired to put my feelings into words. “Thanks.”

“We thought the headband matched your eyes,” Caroline began softly. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said again, tying the bracelet around my ankle.

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Pushing the green present’s wrapping aside and promising the try the headband on later, I grabbed the purple present. It was heavier than the last one, but I still couldn’t figure out what was in it by shaking it. I carefully peeled the iris-colored paper off the gift and found . . .

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. . . a box if chamomile tea and a white mug with a hot pink flower painted on it.

“It’s so British!” I exclaimed gleefully. In truth, it didn’t really look British, but tea always reminds me of home.

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That left two gifts —  both were huge, and I didn’t have the slightest clue as to which one I should open next. I glanced up at Molly and raised an eyebrow. Which one?

We were really quite good at communicating through subtle gestures, so when Molly shrugged, I knew that she was saying, Doesn’t matter. 

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I chose to open the tawny gift bag first. I pulled out handful after handful of amethyst tissue paper, but I didn’t find anything. They must have hidden the present really well . . . Finally my hand brushed against something hard, and I pulled the thing out of the bag.

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It was a doll! She had silky blonde hair and wore an orange halter dress. I squealed and hugged her against my chest.

Only Molly knew how much I’d wanted a doll. She must have convinced my family to buy one for me!

“Thank you so much!” I shouted. I fanned my face so I wouldn’t cry. I finally had a doll . . . “Did she come with a name?” I inquired after I’d calmed down a little bit.

“Kelsie, I think,” Savannah supplied. “Of course, you can change it if you want to.”

I shook my head. The name was perfect.

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Tracy pointed at the last present: a giant limegreen box. “Are you going to open it?”

I didn’t know what could be better than a doll, but I figured I should probably open the last gift, just in case it was something incredibly  awesome. As I pulled the box towards me, it made a weird wimpering sound. My interest suddenly piqued, I scrambled to open the box.

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Inside was the tiniest, cutest creature ever. A little black-and-white puppy, but smaller than any dog I had ever seen. It looked up at me with these huge, trusting eyes, and it seemed to smile at me.

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Molly leaned over my shoulder and started chattering. “He’s really cute, isn’t he? And do you see how small he is? That’s because he’s a teacup puppy! A dalmatian, too. What are you going to name him? Do you like him? I hope you do, it is your birthday after all, Emily . . .”

I barely heard her, as I was completely lost in his sweet, gigantic eyes.

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Then I blinked and asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Boy,” Molly replied. “I told you already.”

“Sorry,” I said sheepishly, rubbing the dog’s — my dog’s — head. “I wasn’t really listening.”

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Suddenly, my puppy grabbed my new headband in his mouth and took off. I instantly jumped up and chased after him, scolding him affectionately as I ran. And the delighted way he looked at me as I pursued him reminded me so much of a certain character from Heroes of Olympus that in that moment I knew exactly what I would name him.

“Leo!”

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So, Emily’s birthday was on September 29th, but I didn’t get around to making a post about it until now. That seems to happen a lot, actually . . .

Anyway, I hope you liked the photostory!

Allons-y!

~Loren