By Marcella Herrmann
Seventeen little papillons were shut in their room in Miz Kay’s house—some curled up on their blankets, others secure in their comfy cages. They were settling down after their exciting romp in their fenced yard. There they had run about joyfully and barked frantically at any one and any thing passing by. They tumbled over one another as they jumped on the fence. Getting out early in the morning and in later afternoon was their daily chance for exercise and play.
Talk about a dog’s life! Expensive dog chow. The best medical care. Trips to dog shows to try to win Blue Ribbons—warm shelter, but boring!
On this evening, as soon as he heard her car drive away, Perry Papillon barked, “I’ve had it! Enough of this being caged in like ferocious wild beasts. There must be a big world out there beyond the fence. We see other dogs out there having fun, exploring the woods, chasing cats and squirrels up the trees—even playing ‘fetch the ball’ with children.
“We’ve won a lot of ribbons for Miz Kay and we get our picture taken. Do we get to wear the pretty ribbons? Do we get to play ‘tug of war’ with them? No Way!”
“You’re right,” the pack yelped. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
“There just might be,” Perry retorted. “At least I am going to try. I heard her say that I was going on a long trip to Culpeper. A friend of hers wants me to be friends with her little female named Lacey. While I’m there, I’m going to see if I can get away and find a better life. If I can do it, you’ll all find a way to be free also.”
A few days later Perry was taken to the dog parlor for a shampoo, brushing, nail clipping and a visit to the vets. Next he was put in his special car cage with his name in gold letters on it. This was placed in Miz Kay’s station wagon with “It’s HARD TO BE HUMBLE when you own a Papillon” label on the bumper!
So he wouldn’t get car sick, he had no food—just a pill to keep him calm. Away they went for miles and miles and miles.
When they arrived in Culpeper, he was told he would be visiting there for several days. “This might be fun,” he thought.
It wasn’t. He was put in a pen, just like home, for much of the time. Tiny Lacey wasn’t nearly as nice as the other dogs he knew at Miz Kay’s. In fact she bit his ear and growled at him.
“I’ve got to get out of here,” he thought. “I’m going to find a way to escape—somehow, someway—and soon!”
Perry soon noticed that the lady watched every day for the mailman to come. He decided to make a habit of being very friendly to her—rubbing against her legs, licking her hands and jumping into her lap as often as he could. He wanted her to feel that she could trust him. He was at her heels constantly.
Soon luck was with him. The mailman rang the door bell. He had something special that the lady had to sign for. She did this with the door ajar. Perry scooted between her feet and raced down the path. He crossed the street, slipped under some bushes and ran and ran and ran. He heard a voice calling, but he didn’t look back.
Before long he was panting hard! He had never been allowed to run far—so even through he was a champion—best in show—blue ribbon winner—he was really in poor physical shape. What good was it to have a perfect butterfly shaped face, if he hadn’t the strength to run for his life?
He was getting so very tired. He had to find a place to hide and rest. He couldn’t hear any voices calling or hear any footsteps chasing him. He headed for a wooded area and wiggled his way into a hollowed-out log.
Luckily papillons are very small—almost like a toy—as little as a cat. His face and ears had a lot of dark brown color and his white body had been in some dirt. Feeling pretty safe, he decided to stay in the log and rest until it was dark. Then he would look for food and try to find a better hiding place.
As he was very tired, he slept on and on. When he awoke he saw that it was nearly time for the sun to rise. At first he panicked, but then realized that the early morning light would be an advantage. He could scan the area and decide which way to go.
He continued through the woods until he came to a barbed-wire fence. Being small he found a spot he through he could squeeze through. “Ouch,” he yelped. “This fence isn’t like Miz Kay’s. This one hurts.”
In spite of the pain, he struggled through. “Oh, wow! I’m bleeding! My leg has a big gash and it feels as if my back is scratched. No more dog shows and blue ribbons for me.”
When he could see that he had no big injuries, he gave his coat a few licks with his pink tongue and shook himself. Then he looked around. Off in the distance he saw several large creatures. They weren’t dogs or horses. But they were somewhat familiar. He scratched his ear with his hind foot while he tried to remember. What he’d seen was bit. It was brown. And it had a short, twichy tail that was white underneath. Well, oh dear, he couldn’t think of its name but he knew it wasn’t dangerous.
“If those are the same, they won’t hurt me,” he told himself.
Slinking along on his belly, he cautiously approached the herd. As he got nearer, he could see that one was a mother with a little one beside her. She was licking its face. Soon it began feeding from her milk.
“That one will be kind to me,” he told himself. “Mothers are usually nice.”
As he got closer and closer, she looked at him with her gentle brown eyes. She could see that he was trembling with fear. She stood very still. When she saw his curly tail wag just a little, she knew he wanted to be friendly. She didn’t even say “Moo.” She waited.
Perry didn’t bark, or yelp, or whine. He crept closer and looked up pleadingly. Then he whispered, “Can you help me? I’m lost. I’m hungry. I’m afraid.”
“I can see that you need a friend. Before long the farmer’s son craig and his sister Jackie will be coming to lead us to the barn to be milked. They will find a bowl and put some of my milk in it for you.”
After a while the children came running to the pasture. What a surprise to find that Brown Swiss Mama had another baby and it wasn’t a calf!
Craig swooped Perry up in his arms and cuddled him while Jackie patted his head. Perry tried to lick her smiling face.
Perry thought the barn was a wonderful place. He liked the smell of the hay and he felt comfortable with the big, friendly cows. He shared their barn. He romped in their fields, and best of all Craig and Jackie played with him and loved him.
However, one day Craig’s mother read an ad in the paper. It offered a large reward for anyone reporting the whereabouts of a tiny white dog with black markings and large ears that gave him a butterfly shaped face. Craig’s mother knew it had to be the little dog that was frisking about the barn. Though she’d didn’t want a reward, she knew it was right to call the owner, who surely would be worried about her pet.
Miz Kay was indeed glad to hear about her missing dog and promised to come for it soon.
When Perry heard the familiar sound of her station wagon coming, he was at first excited and happy; but then he thought it over. He ran into the barn and hid in the darkest corner of Brown Swiss’s stall. He didn’t want to leave this happy, carefree place where Craig and Jackie cared for him.
When he was finally found, Miz Kay looked at him in dismay. “What kind of a show dog will you be with a torn ear, a scar on your leg and a scruffy coat? It’s clear that you’ll win no more blue ribbons for me. Perry, you look as if you belong here on this farm with the children. Would you rather stay here than go home with me?”
He ran in circles, he turned cart wheels, he leaped on her and kissed her cheek and then ran to Jackie and Craig. He was saying as best he could, “Let me stay here.”
© 2005 Marcella Hermann All Rights reserved
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