Gypsy lay on his stomach looking up at the clock, waiting for both hands to come together to make twelve, when someone would come and feed him lunch. Gypsy lived a dog’s life in the kennel: just eating and sleeping and going for the occasional walk. Gypsy could do without the walk, but, he knew it made his handlers happy. The irony was they seemed to think it was doing him good, when all the walks succeeded in doing for Gypsy, was to look around the neighborhood and see that life was much better in the kennel.
Gypsy passed a park where he saw a collie running after a stick thrown by his master, fetching it in his teeth, then running it back to his master. Gypsy had never seen such animal abuse before.
‘Look at that poor shlub. He’s gotta chase after some stupid stick, run it back to his stupid master, who just throws it again. If the guy wants the stick so badly, why’s he keep throwing it away? What’s the point of chasing after it? If any of my handlers were to throw a stick for me to run after, I’d just look up at him and think, ‘man, if you want it back, why’d you throw it away in the first place? Why should I go after it? What do I get out of it? Exercise? I hate running, go get your your own stick you want it back so bad.’
Gypsy was one lazy dog. For Gypsy, it was enough to just spend all day in his cage, sleeping, or eating, occasionally scratching himself. It was a full life until the Veek family came looking for a family pet.
It was Jenny Veek, who was the first to spot him.
“How bout this one?” Jenny was pointing at Gypsy, who sat up in his cage. It was the first time he’d been pointed at.
“You like this little guy?” Bob Veek, Jenny’s dad asked his daughter, before asking, Harriot, the shelter worker, “What kind of breed is he?”
“Oh, Gypsy’s a mix of breeds. He’s part lab, part, doberman, part chiwawa. Gypsy’s pure mutt if there’s ever been one,” Harriot laughed.
“Can we get him, Daddy?” Jenny asked her daddy.
“If he’s the one you want.”
“He is, he is,” Jenny was jumping up and down, holding her father’s right hand.
“I guess that means we’ll take him,” Mr. Veek told Harriot, who was as shocked as Gypsy that he had been picked.
“Come on, Gypsy, come on, boy,” Harriot knelt to wave Gypsy from his cage. The dog was having none of it.
‘No, thanks, I’ll stay right here. I’m not going out to be anyone’s stick fetcher. And if you’re looking for a dog to play catch with, let me suggest joining a softball team where you’ll get a whole team’s worth of people who’ll play catch with you.’
“I don’t think he wants to come,” said Mrs. Veek.
“Come on, boy,” Harriot reached her two arms into the cage to get Gypsy, who nipped Harriot’s fingers. Harriot recoiled back, falling on the floor before the Veek family. “He bit me. He’s never done that before.”
“He obviously doesn’t want to come, dear,” Mrs. Veek stroked her daughter’s long brown hair. “I don’t want a dog that doesn’t want us. We should find another dog.”
“No, not another dog. I want him.”
Gypsy wished he could speak people so he could tell the little girl, who seemed nice enough, not to take it personally. ‘Sorry, kid, but I like it here.’
Suddenly the little girl let go of her daddy’s hand and knelt down facing Gypsy, her arms open wide. “Hello, there. Wouldn’t you like to come home with us? I promise to love you and be good to you and feed you.”
It was the feed you that got Gypsy. Love meant nothing to him at that moment. He had never felt love, nor had he heard the word. Feed, however, was his favorite word. He inched his furry paws towards her little hands.
Jenny reached in further and shook a paw. “Nice to meet you, Gypsy. I’m Jenny. Let’s go get something to eat.”
That was enough to get Gypsy out of his cage.
Harriot was back on her feet, ready to lead the Veek family to their paper work. “We just have a few forms to fill out and then you can be on your way with Gypsy.”
They started walking toward the office.
“Gypsy sounds like a girl’s name. Can we call him, One Direction?” Jenny asked, wanting to name the dog after her favorite boy band.
“I think that may confuse him, dear. It’s probably better if he keeps his name,” said Jenny’s mother, who wasn’t as concerned about confusing the dog as naming him after a band she personally hated. If you asked Janice Veek, a classically trained pianist, what was the hardest part about being a mother, she would tell you it was having to listen to so much terrible music.
They were walking down the hall between the kennel and the office, when John passed, pushing the noon time meal cart. Gypsy forgot all about the Veek family and turned to follow the food.
“Hey!” Jenny cried after her dog.
But Gypsy was no one’s dog. Hunger was his only master. And it was noon and he was hungry. He walked past John and the food cart, crawling back into his tiny cage waiting for his lunch.