There once was a dog who wandered the streets. He was a kindly dog who did not have a home.
Sometimes, he would see families at the park playing with their dogs. How he wished he were one of those dogs. After a time, he decided that he would try to befriend one of the children that played in the park. He was overcome with excitement and haphazardly ran toward a child while yelling "Hello!" over and over again. He had almost reached the child when, suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his side. A man had kicked him causing him to yelp in pain. He never went back to the park again.
Despite that incident, it did not deter him from trying to find someone who wanted him. The dog promised himself that if he should ever find someone to love him, he would return that love a hundredfold.
One rainy morning, as he was searching for food, he happened to come across a pet store. Inside, he saw dozens of people milling about with beaming smiles on all their faces. He noticed that all the dogs were just mere puppies barely weaned from their mothers. Not only that, they were all well groomed and clean.
The dog knew he could not do anything about his age. Winter was fast approaching and it would be his fifth time through the bitter season. As for his cleanliness, he had an idea. He found a large puddle and rolled in it bathing himself in the process. With a quick shake, he dried himself off the best he could. The dog trotted over to the pet store and sat right in front of the door, full of confidence, hoping someone would take notice.
People did take notice as they left the store, but not in the way he had hoped. Most of the people seemed scared of him, while others gave him a look of disgust. His confidence was slowly crushed by the continuous rejection of the people who passed by him. Not one of them gave him any sign of encouragement. As time went by, he began feeling foolish and hurt. How could he have thought that by simply rolling around in a puddle he could be as presentable as the puppies inside? The dog kept thinking how stupid and ugly he must have looked. He was finally chased off by the shop keeper who had a broom in his hand.
He looked back at the pet store, for one last time, and wondered why these people would spend money on a dog when he would have gladly given them his love for free. He would never understand that.
Once again, he wandered the streets. It began to rain a little harder and the dog started to sneeze. He was utterly demoralized and confused. Why did no one want him? In his heart, he knew he was a good dog and if he could just be given a chance, he could prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Night was falling and the chill in the air forced the dog to seek out shelter. As he was making his way to an abandoned building he normally slept in, he heard a woman screaming. Driven mostly by curiosity, he ran over to where the scream had come from. The dog saw a young lady, who looked as if she were throwing out some trash, cornered by a rat in an alley way, but it was no normal rat. It had sharp teeth, beady little black eyes, grey fur, and was very, very large. He had run into one early on in his life and knew that it was very mean and very nasty. Regardless, the dog charged the over-sized rat and barked fiercely at it. The rat hissed and snapped its teeth at him. He dodged to the side and bit the rat on its long, thick tail. It let out a high pitched shriek and sped away into the shadows of the alley.
The dog let out a low growl then barked once. Satisfied that the rat was gone, he turned to see if the young lady was okay. She had her hands over her mouth and her eyes were still wide with fright, but other than that, she seemed unharmed and that was enough for him. With pride swelling in his chest, and a sense of accomplishment, he went to leave.
Before he had a chance to, he saw the woman crouch down, patting her thighs with her hands. The dog knew she meant for him to come to her. He had seen that signal many times down at the park, but never in his life had someone called him over before. His heart was pounding wildly as he kept his head down and ever so slowly went to her. It was then that the most wonderful thing in the world had happened.
The young lady wrapped her arms around the dog and hugged him tightly. She whispered some words into his ears and, although he did not understand what she was saying, he knew from the tone of her voice that they were kind words. The dog wept.
After a time, the woman released her embrace, stood up, and smiled at him. He danced around in circles and barked playfully at her. She laughed and said a few words while motioning him to stay. The dog was more than happy to comply and waited for her as she stepped into her apartment building.
A few moments later, the young lady re-appeared with her hands behind her back. Wondering what she was hiding, the dog sat and cocked his head to one side. She removed her hands from hiding and presented him with a sandwich; not one that was partially eaten, not one that was moldy and old, but a whole one that was just made...for him. He took the food gently from her hands then wolfed it down hungrily. It was the most delicious thing he had ever eaten. Once done, he licked her hands to thank her.
She let out a sad sigh and patted the dog on his head. He saw her point at him then back to her apartment building while shaking her head. He understood. He was not allowed to live inside and would be an outdoor dog which suited him just fine. He barked once and wagged his tail at the kind woman to let her know he understood. She smiled once more at him and waved goodbye as she went back inside her home for the evening.
The dog decided to spend the night in the alleyway instead of the abandoned building he had originally planned on. He knocked over an empty, plastic garbage can and crawled inside it. With a smile in his heart, he slowly closed his eyes and looked forward to seeing the woman in the morning. He would be the best dog in the whole world. His loyalty to her would be second to none and he would protect her from any and all harm.
For once in his life he felt wanted, needed... and one day, maybe, just maybe, even loved.