The other dog, Red, was barking so loudly that A.J. had to bark back to tell him to stop; then all the other dogs started to bark and growl; then the nice people came out to tell all the dogs to quiet down, all of which made A.J. wish he could just jump out of the cage and run and run and never stop. He stopped barking and lay down sighing slumping his head on his paws. The nice people went back inside, the other dogs finally settled down, and A.J. just lay in his cage, just another day of clamour and cages. Sighing again, he began the long wait for dinnertime.
Suddenly in the distance he could hear beautiful music that tugged at his insides. He raised his head. The beautiful music was coming from a small car that was pulling up the long driveway to the shelter. The car parked; the beautiful music stopped. A dark-haired woman got out of the small car. Some of the other dogs started barking to show off how strong and big they were. A.J. just lay down again wondering how much longer until his food would come.
He watched the woman as she made her way past all the other cages, one by one, without slowing, only to stop in front of his cage. A.J. looked up. She was staring right at him. A.J. started to worry slinking to the back of the cage. He looked at the woman, she was still looking at him, and he could see her teeth. Then she went inside the building into which the nice people would disappear.
A.J. lay down again, just another person visiting the nice people. Then the door to the building opened, one of the nice people came out with the dark-haired woman, and they both approached his cage. The two stood outside his cage and talked in low voices. A.J. knew they were talking about him.
He looked again at the dark-haired woman and walked up to sniff her through the cage. She smelled good like trees; her voice was quiet and gentle. The nice person opened the cage and put a harness and leash on him handing it to the dark-haired woman. A.J. wondered what was going on. Then the dark-haired woman took him for a long walk.
At first A.J. barked at all the other dogs, pulling on the harness, not sure about the woman. Then as they got further away from the other dogs, he decided to just smell and listen to her. She was very strong, clear, and he knew exactly what she meant when she asked him to stay by her side and to sit down. She was nice, too; her hands felt good in his fur. A.J. decided she was okay by him.
Then they started heading back to the shelter. A.J. knew he was just going to be put back in his cage again and that would be the end of that. People had come visiting before and taken him for walks, but they all went away again alone in their cars or with other dogs. A.J. sighed.
Then the nice shelter person came talking for a long time with the dark-haired woman. They handed paper back and forth. A.J. figured he would be put back in his cage now. Then the shelter person took off his harness and the dark-haired woman put a different collar and leash on him. A.J. perked up; this was unusual. The shelter person and the dark-haired woman who smelled like warmth talked again.
A.J. suddenly felt the old ache in his heart, he felt it strongly like he had never felt it before. Soon it would be back to the cage, the barking, and being all alone. Why did they not just put him back in his cage and then the nice dark-haired woman could go take a different dog like everyone else did, and he could go lie down on his blanket? But then the shelter person leaned down to pat him saying, “Goodbye, fella, you go and live your life now.” A.J. did not understand but he felt the shelter person was both happy and sad. A.J. watched as she headed back towards the building and went inside.
He was alone with the dark-haired woman who, instead of taking him back to his cage, began to lead him to her small car. A.J. looked up at her; she looked down at him. Her eyes were bright and looked happy. A.J. felt his old ache suddenly burst, transform, suddenly split wide open into something brand new, something he had never felt before, something that felt like the beautiful music he had heard from her car.
The dark-haired woman kneeled down and held his face in her hands saying in her gentle quiet voice “Okay, buddy, you’re now Amicus, and we’re going to be best buddies, got that, schnooky pooky.” The dog did not understand and then she kissed his nose. He could not help it when his tail began to wag, he could not help but lick her face, too. He felt so excited, safe, and something, something; he just wanted to be with the dark-haired woman forever.
The dog climbed into the back of her small car; she got in the front. She turned on the car; the beautiful music started again. Feeling so excited, he whimpered a little; he could not help it. The dark-haired woman turned around looking at him with her bright eyes; then she gave him a delicious treat from a little paper bag. Then she began to drive away with him, and he with her.
Amicus sighed realizing suddenly that the ache in his heart was completely gone, as though it had never been there, and all he felt was good. His tail began to wag again and he knew this time, this day, he had finally been found.