It was around 5pm on the hill when Dad stopped his work and said that he needed to feed his dogs. He was talking about his precious beagles. The ones he had so carefully named and could spend a good hour telling you about why. Mom had wanted a pool and he was working hard to make sure it was right. Therefore, the beagles, Pancake, Lollie Sue, Pokey, Maple, etc, had taken a backseat. You could tell it had pained him to not have enough time for them which led to my volunteering of helping him out and taking on the chore.
He seemed pleased as he picked back up his shovel and gave me instructions. I told him Josh and I could take care of it and not to worry. Dad smiled with appreciation. I went to pick up my baby brother.
To say Josh was happy about the whole chore would be somewhat misleading. He was enjoying a nice evening in his rent-free home, full from the german chocolate cake Aunt Sue had made for Mom. Yes, Josh was full and happy, but after much pleading by me, decided he would go.
The two mile trip was nice and slow while Patsy Kline belted out her sweet harmonies. There was a peacefulness to the ride and a calm had come over me as I drank my iced tea and sang along. Josh seemed anxious, but I smiled at him and told him that I loved him. As we passed the gate and my Honda took the dirt road bumps with ease, he seemed to calm a bit.
The calm was proven to be superficial as we pulled up to our destination and he jumped out of the car yelling at some sweet little puppies. I was astounded. The puppies cowered and I stepped out of the car hesitant to say anything. Josh ran toward the dog pen as I calmed the puppies in the yard. I spied him over my shoulder kicking at the pen and yelling obscenities at the caged animals as they ran towards the back of their home whining and grouping together in defense. It was a sight. My reflex was to hop in my car and leave, but I knew those precious beagles needed me. Therefore, I walked towards Josh and put my hand on his shoulder. My years working in psychiatric facilities was now paying off as I was able to calm him with simple touch and a steady voice. I explained to him he need not worry, I would feed the dogs.
Josh hung his head and backed away from the gate. I saw some tears but was careful not to let him know I noticed.
It was not an easy job and lugging around the 50# bag of food from feeder to feeder just about wore me out. The dogs' obvious appreciation strengthened me as they would lick my hands and nudge me for a touch.
I was caught by surprise in the pen as Josh flung open the gate and exclaimed "Go free, you bastards!" As I lunged toward the gate the beagles did also, and in only moments they had all escaped their containment. Josh simply laughed. Not a laugh I had heard before from him. It was like the Chucky doll in those horror movies. The kind that sends shivers down your spine. His eyes were wild, but I could not focus on him at that time. My Dad, his dogs, it would break his heart. I was able to run and scoop up about five of them, of course, one at a time, which led to my exhaustion. It had been a year since I had trained for that last marathon and I am ashamed to say my breathing got a little heavy. Four dogs had managed to escape and could be heard on the scent of an animal in the woods nearby. Josh lay in the fetal position next to the gate. Priorities, I thought. First, I needed to get Josh to his rent free home. Tuck him under the covers of the bed and linens he had gotten without payment from Mom and Dad.
Then I would take on the next task at hand.
Josh was still crying as I lifted him and walked towards the car. The ride back was filled with his sobs as he wondered what Dad would do to him. I told him not to worry and decided to take all the blame. This would not be the first time I had taken Josh's licks. As his big sister, I felt it was my responsibility. Anything to make my baby brother okay, bless his heart.
As I tucked him in bed he seemed energized telling me the story we should tell our parents. So energized, he got up and told me he would come with me to explain it to them. I said, Sure, fearful of another outburst and quickly called my brother Jason to let him know of the four missing dogs. Dad was on my mind and I knew Jason would help. He agreed knowing the importance of the situation and Josh walked out to wait for me in the car.
Dad took the news well but I could see the disappointment in his eyes as Josh rattled off the story with a slight smile. May the dogs be found and Josh get the help that he so desperately needs. I only tell the truth so that he may be set free.
With all my love and concern,