Smells Like Home
By Maria Marasco
Hi, my name is Archie. I’m what they call a shelter mutt. I’m part part Foxhound (as evidenced by my impeccable sense of smell and freckled nose) and part Welsh Corgi (let’s just say if I was in the mob my name would be “Archie Short Legs”) and I’ve been told that I have a Happy Gate by my neighbor in the place made of concrete.
But the Happy Gate wasn’t always there.
Life began somewhere hot and dusty. I lived with my sister and brother in a place that smelled like dirty cows and was always uncomfortable. We were sometimes fed and more often yelled at by Angry Guy. He smelled like gas, sweat, potaoes, and the brown water he always drank (which usually made him angrier so I’m not sure why he kept drinking it). There were also a few boys whose names I didn’t care to learn who threw stuff at us, and a little girl who would pat my head and smelled like sour milk.
We mostly saw Angry Guy. He called my brother “Brown” because his coat was brown, me ‘Spot” because I have a distinctive spot on my head, and my sister “Girl” because, well, you get the point.
As days grew longer and hotter, Angry Guy got angrier. No matter how I tried to prepare, he always scared the BeJesus out of me (to this day I still do not trust men with gray hair appearing to do any manner of yard work or use farming tools).
One day after he forgot to feed us for a long time, I tried to grab something from his plate (it looked like he was done). That was a really bad idea. I still have the scars on my lip from my teeth cutting into my skin as he clenched my snout like a vice.
But nothing was as bad as the Scariest Day Ever.
On that day I was hungry, thirsty, and woken by someone I had never smelled before. He grabbed the scruff of my neck abruptly. It hurt. He had me in one hand and Girl in another. I tried to act calm for Girl, but I knew it was bad. And it was. We were put in The Machine that Makes Me Sick and wound up in the very bad place the dogs in the field warned us about. It was worse than I imagined. I quickly figured out that being taken away by someone in blue pants was not a good thing (and I’ll leave it at that.). I didn’t know where Girl and Brown were, and all I could smell was fear and death. For the next howevermany days I tried to become invisible. I didn’t bark, whine, or cry, I opted for silence at all costs, even when I was really scared. I fought constant anxiety that I’d smell, or worse, see, the dreaded blue pants . All of a sudden, Angry Guy didn’t seem so bad.
One particularly loud afternoon, I smelled strange footsteps coming near, admittedly I panicked, but instead of blue pants, a lady with Green Letters on her Shirt bent down and gently put her hand into the cage. She had a nicer sounding voice than any I had heard before, with a sweet roughness I was immediately taken to. I approached her and gave her my best “GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! look”
She said, “AND HIM” …and the next think I knew I had a leash on me, was shuffled into a crate and then into The Machine that Makes Me Sick again. There were others like me there. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared out of my small yet mighty body, but had a good feeling that whatever was happening was a good thing. The ladies with Green Letters on their Shirts carried us in a way that felt safe. And they spoke to us with kind voices. Telling us it would all be ok. I believed them. And then I saw Girl and Brown, they were with me!!!
And the best part? They quickly renamed us – Veronica, Jughead and Archie (I mentioned the freckles, right?).