Twelve Times Seven And Change

This is a quick story I wrote soon after a big event in my life. I won't claim its perfectly polished but I got what I needed to get down on paper.


For everyone who has ever loved a pet. And most especially for Faye and Muffin. Love you.

Twelve Times Seven and Change 

August 2001

Muffin padded silently up the stairs of the quiet town house. Although he didn’t need to use the stairs strictly speaking, he found he liked doing it anyway. Although it was smaller than the houses he had shared with TheBoy, walking up and down the steps reminded him of those days when they lived together. He got to the top, found the door to TheBoy’s room and walked through it.

The corgi puppy that lay at the foot of the bed heard Muffin as he entered. She cocked her head and blinked sleepily at him but didn’t seem scared or even surprised at all. This would have astonished the man and woman also sleeping on the bed. Just this morning the puppy had been barking aggressively at a plastic bag blowing in the wind, sure it was up to no good. But then again, the corgi knew right away it had nothing to fear from the strange dog, although it just walked right through a closed door. Ghostly golden retrievers were one thing; plastic bags that seemed to move by themselves were another.

“Welcome to the family!” Muffin said.

The corgi wagged her stump of a tail a bit, got up and nudged the woman’s foot. She muttered something about eggplants, rolled over, but otherwise stayed asleep, oblivious to the visitor. The man didn’t move at all, just continuing to snore.

“Who are you?” the puppy asked.

“I’m Muffin. I’ve known TheBoy since he was a puppy.”

The puppy gave him a puzzled look. “Since? He’s still a very small puppy though he’s gotten big enough to walk on his own sometimes with Mommy and me. She has to push him in a stroller or carry him otherwise.”

Muffin started to laugh, which rather offended the small corgi. She gave a soft bark and growled a bit causing the man to mutter in his sleep a bit, “Shh, Faye. Just a few minutes…”

Faye stopped making noises, not wanting to wake up Mommy or Daddy but whispered fiercely, well at least as fierce as a corgi puppy could, at Muffin. “Stop that! You’ll wake them up!”

“They can’t hear me,” Muffin said. “But they can hear you just fine, well your barking at least. You have to love humans, the crazy things can’t understand a thing we say, but they do try hard. At least TheBoy does.”

“The only thing TheBoy tries is to steal my food from my food bowl. And I think the other day Mommy fished one of my puppy teeth out of his mouth. He chews on everything!” Faye said exasperatedly, pleased she at least was above such undignified behavior. Then she looked over at the crib at the side of the room fondly. “Still, he’s very cute and doesn’t mean any real harm. It’s a good thing Mommy and Daddy have me here to keep an eye on him.”

Muffin successfully controlled his laughter this time. “TheBoy likes to chew on food a lot, but he’s never chewed on anything he couldn’t eat. Maybe it would help him if he just chewed on things. His Mate sometimes gets annoyed when he eats too much.”

Faye suddenly understood. “No, Muffin. You have it wrong.  This,” she said, motioning with her snout to the man on the bed, “is Daddy, not TheBoy. TheBoy is in that crib over there.”

Muffin frowned. “No, Daddy and Mommy live in a big house someplace else. Their pups are all grown, but they are over there a lot with pups of their own and…”

“No,” Faye interrupted. “I think you’re talking about Grandma and Grandpa.”

“No I’m not.”

“Yes you are.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

They bickered this way, oblivious to the simultaneous groggy bickering of the humans, each insisting that it was the other one’s turn to walk Faye. Finally the man got up, motioning to Faye who managed a final “Are too!” before he led her out.

May 2003

“Hello Muffin,” Faye said as he came through the bedroom door. The woman lay asleep with a toddler boy curled up beside her and a new occupant in the nearby crib.

“Hello pretty lady,” he said roguishly.

Faye rolled her eyes. “You’d flatter a toothless old dog if you thought it would get you somewhere.”

“This is true,” Muffin said. “It’s a shame I didn’t know you when I was in my prime.”

“I wasn’t born then,” she said dryly. “Though it’d be nice to have you here more often. Two pups! At least TheBoy doesn’t go in his pants anymore – and don’t start that again!” she said, noticing the beginning of Muffin’s laughter.

“Sorry. But TheBoy is still TheBoy to me.”

“That is entirely too confusing. We need to decide on something we can both agree on. I wish you were sensible enough to see that.”

“Well, maybe we can come to some agreement on the pups’ names.”

Faye thought for a moment. “Mommy calls TheBoy, I mean the older pup, Little One sometimes. I’ve heard her call the new pup Little Two.”

“I like that! How are you holding up with human pups in the house?”

“Well, it’s hard right now. Mommy is still tired and I’d like to get walked more. I know she will when she feels better. Thanks for playing chase with me sometimes when I’m bored.”

Muffin gave a snort. “I can’t believe they call that The Running of the Corgis. I mean I know they can’t see me, but still you’d think someone might notice something”

“They can’t help being humans. Besides I think sometimes Mommy and Daddy notice something,” she added kindly. “Right now they need help noticing when Little One and Little Two are beginning to move in their beds. It’s a good thing they have me here to let them know if they miss it!”

At that, the baby started stirring in her crib. She blinked her eyes sleepily and looked at the two dogs.

“Aw!” said Muffin. “I think she knows her name. Who’s a cute Little Two?”
She looked at the ghostly dog and reached towards it. When she couldn’t grab on to it, she began to howl.

“Loud, isn’t she?” Faye said proudly. “I hardly need to bark to let Mommy know.”

Both woman and toddler woke up. The woman rubbed her eyes. “OK, OK, honey. I guess I can’t complain. That was a half hour you let me sleep. Faye must be crossing her tiny little legs by now.”

Faye looked indignant “She’s one to talk. She’s no giant among humans either,” she muttered to Muffin.

Muffin was too preoccupied with the baby to comment. Faye remained annoyed until the woman came over to her, with the now soothed baby in one arm. “Good Faye,” she said scratching her with her free arm. Let me get her in a sling and I’ll get you out back real quick.”

“I come too!” said the toddler.

“OK, then let’s get the baby in the stroller and make it a real walk. What do you say Faye?”

Faye barked enthusiastically.

December 2007

“Did he always snore this much?”

Muffin contemplated the man peacefully snoring on the bed.
“Nope. That happened as he got older.” He looked carefully at him and tested out the name he and Faye had agreed upon. “Sleeping OK Goofball?”

The man murmured incoherently, a quick smile flitting across his face before he rolled over.

Muffin wagged his tail. “He likes it!”

Faye nodded approvingly. “I thought so.” She padded over to Muffin to look at the man. “I rather like Goofball’s snoring. I find I have a hard time going to sleep at night without it. That’s why I like staying up with him.”

“You sleep just fine during the day,” Muffin teased.

“Well, it is less busy with both Little One and Little Two gone for the day.”

“How is Loca doing with them gone?” Muffin asked. He wasn’t entirely sure about the new name for The Mate, but Faye insisted that there was a song that described her perfectly with that word in the title. (Faye wasn’t terribly happy that it mentioned cats, but thought the part about mocha skin and voodoo dolls sounded about right. Muffin still thought Shorty was better, but Faye was very offended when he suggested it.)

“She was sad for a bit. But thank goodness I’m here. I’ve got her on a good schedule with walking so she gets plenty of sunshine and exercise. Doesn’t she look healthy now?”

“Almost as good as her dog.”

“Flatterer,” she said, but pulled herself up as tall as her frame would allow her.

October 10, 2013

“Muffin I’m so tired.”

Muffin knew this kitchen. It was the one he had so many happy memories of, with Goofball and his family a long time ago. He knew today Goofball was very, very sad, so was Loca. And he knew why.  An old friend of both of theirs had arrived in the Summerlands just a few days ago. Before Muffin came to see Faye, he went to see them. They weren’t too far from this home, standing out in the rain with other friends in one of those odd parks with small stones spaced neatly apart from each other, near a large box ready to be lowered in the ground.

 Muffin looked at Faye and knew it wouldn’t be long before she made the journey to the Summerlands too.

“Hi pretty lady,” he said.

“I’m an old lady, Muffin. And something is wrong. I feel it in my tummy.” The usually self assured corgi looked nervously up at Muffin.

“Don’t be scared Faye. You’ll love the Summerlands. I promise.”

“I’m not scared about that. But what if Goofball and Loca don’t come back in time? I don’t want to go and not say goodbye.” She started to whimper. “Oh Muffin, I don’t want to go! Who will make sure Loca takes her walks? Who will stay up with Goofball and comfort him when he can’t sleep?”

“They will have to manage Faye,” Muffin said kindly. He curled up next to Faye and began to lick her. “But I will stay right here with you until they come back – and they will come back soon. You will have chance to say goodbye, I promise pretty lady.”

October 22, 2013

“Muffin, it’s happening today.” Faye gingerly raised her head and managed a feeble wag. She wanted to save her strength. Little One was upstairs after giving her a worried look before heading up to his room. Loca wasn’t in, but Faye knew she would be back soon from getting Little Two from school. Goofball still wouldn’t be home for another couple of hours.

“I know. I’m here to help you when it’s time.”

“I walked Little Two to the bus stop this morning,” she said proudly. “I had the energy for that. But I’ve never been so tired and my tummy hurts so badly now.”

“Beautiful and tough, I’ve always liked that about you,” Muffin said.

“Flatterer,” she said and dropped her head to the ground again.

Loca and Little Two came back in.

“Mommy how is Faye?”

The woman looked worriedly at the small corgi. “I’m not sure. Maybe, she just ate something that really didn’t agree with her. You know how she loves to eat dead earthworms after a rain. Did you do that again puppy?” she asked as she scratched behinds Faye’s ears.

Puppy, Faye thought. No not for a long time now. I guess everyone is in a flattering mood.

Later

Faye could hear Loca’s howls from the other room. She heard the horrible sadness and wished she could get up to tell her it was going to be all right. Not too soon after that, a human came and carried her away back to the room where Loca and Goofball sat, looking red eyed and weary.

Why can’t humans understand dogs? She thought.

I don’t know.  It’d make things so much easier if they could. Muffin was in the room too. Faye thought it was odd she could hear him and he could hear her without speaking, but then realized that it might be because she was so close to the end.

Goofball and Loca stroked and cooed over her. Faye smiled. Silly humans, it’s going to be alright. I am so glad, so very glad you are here though. I’ve had a happy life, as good as any dog could ever hope to have. Oh why can’t you understand me? Please don’t cry. Muffin’s right here. I won’t be lonely when I go to the Summerlands. And I’ll visit whenever I can.

The doctor is coming, Faye.

I’m ready. I love you Goofball. I love you Loca. Tell Little One and Little Two I loved them too.

Later

They walked out of the townhouse. It was strange to both of them not to have the familiar jingle follow them out.

“I always liked taking her out at night, spending a little time looking up at the stars,” the man said.

The woman said nothing, but looked up too.

“Hey, that cloud looks like a Firefly class ship,” the man said, trying to make the woman smile.

She did. “Goofball. But, yeah, I can see that. Hey look at that one. It looks a little like…”

“Yeah, pointy ears, it looks a lot like…”

They held each other looking at the corgi shaped cloud for a long while. From her vantage point in the sky Faye smiled at the couple.

Goodbye

Epilogue

The Summerlands was everything Muffin promised and more. It was like the biggest park Faye had ever been in. There were woods, like the ones Loca and Goofball loved to walk her in. But there were also fields and even city areas for those dogs who loved and missed those types of places. Faye found she had the energy of a pup again and quickly made new friends there. She played chase and even enjoyed a bit of wrestling now and again. Today she lay peacefully under the shade of a tree, watching Tank, Barkley, Sugar Bear, Charlie and Muffin running around as fast as they could in the adjacent clearing. Squiggy also lay in the shade with her.

Tank trotted up to her. “Muffin said today is the day. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” she said happily. “I’m a little bit nervous though.”

“You?” Muffin laughed. “Just wow them with your good looks.”

“You’ll do fine Mamita,” Charlie said.

Sugar Bear nodded, “This is a happy day. It always makes me happy when I see my family get a bit bigger.”

“The new addition will need a hand, learning about the family,” Squiggy added.

“They’re a great family!” Faye said. “I can’t wait to show them off. Coming Muffin?”

“Really? I thought you might want to go on your own first.”

“Nope. I really want the company if you’re willing handsome.”

Muffin didn’t need to be asked twice. “Well then, let’s go pretty lady.”

They made the journey easily, finding the house they were looking for right away. Side by side they went through the front door and found where the new dog was comfortably curled up, perfectly happy in its new home. It raised its head as Faye and Muffin got closer, wagging its tail. Muffin nudged Faye forward.


“Welcome to the family!” she said.




First song choice with this story. It helped me think of the title for this story



Second song choice for this story. It  reminded me of  my initial fear of dogs and how I found love trumps fear any day


15 comments:

  1. Now the world can know how special Faye is. I hope parents find this story and read it with their children.

    By the way - Tank actually blushed, then growled his approval.

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  2. I read "Twelve Times Seven and Change" twice last night and again just now, and listened to your choice of music... and most say, dear Kestril, that your words have tailored what my day is to be.

    I know that today, I won't be able to produce anything violent when it comes to writing... my heart feels tender and open... wanting sweeter things--even the bittersweet ones. I miss Charlie (that lady's pup! lol) and although he isn't gone from this world, I miss my Attila, too.

    Those of us who love our furry babies with all our heart know this story came straight from your soul, and will hold on to its meaning.

    As a writer, I will say that I love the tone and your use of point of view. I'm enchanted by the dogs giving names to their humans, by their so very justified worries that without them their humans won't get enough exercise or might be lonely, by their unconditional love that puts their human before themselves... by their wit and sense of humor.

    This one will stay on my Kindle. Always. Thanks for sharing your AWESOME with us... with me.

    Much love.

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  3. I an very honored by your words :) This, of course, was a very personal and sometimes a very sad story to write. But there was so much happiness remembering Faye and how she always seemed to be a dog with a purpose: to protect and care for our family. I also had a fun time imagining what she and Muffin might call us. I'm so glad you liked it.

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  4. This story touched a place so very deep in my heart that it's hard to find the words I want to say. Beautifully written. It left me wanting to hear more stories about Muffin and Faye. Thank you, dear sweet Kestril, for sharing this.

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  5. Such a wonderful story. Heart opeining!

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  6. Thank you Snowy and Sharon :)

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  7. This is really heartwarming to read, full of solace and peace. We never forget them, you know? It's good to feel they never forget us.

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    1. Thank you Rhissana. No, we never will; as sad as the parting was, there was so much joy and love that came before.

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  8. Beautiful story. Two of my four dogs are 14 and definitely showing their age. This hits very close to home. They're always with us. Also love the Firefly reference.

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    1. Well, my husband and I are unabashed geeks. :) It shows when you have a corgi named Faye; if she had been a boy her name would have been Ein.

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  9. A beautiful unique story spanning years full of insights & love.... BUT YOU MADE ME CRY! Beautiful tale & after I read it I was reminded of when I was a child and my dad recited "Old Shep" to us kids... so then I shed another tear. Hugs x

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    1. Thank you - I shed several tears writing it as well. I'm glad it brought back happy memories for you, even if they were a bit bittersweet.

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  10. I came and read this and couldn't comment the first time. We just lost 3 furbabies in less than a year. But now that I read your love filled story a second and third time, it makes me cry but with a different feel to it. Thank you for helping me move on. I know that Odin, Cybella and Sunny Bunny Boo Boo head are at peace. Oma Linda

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  11. I am honored that my story helped a bit. Thank you Oma Linda

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