Secret Files of the Chickensheep, Pt.1

The following is based on a true story about a small dog who was taken by coyotes, presumed dead, and reunited with his owner almost exactly two weeks later. I began writing this a week after his capture to heal the grief and shock, and just like Eli, the story took on another life of its own to remind us that life is undoubtedly wild. There are more things certain than doom; everything is possible and anything can happen.

I.

The Rough Part

A polite "woof" nudged the sleepyness of the dark. It was earlier than usual when Eli asked to go out. By his second cluck-like bark he was sending strong telepathic signals in order to wake his human.

"Alright, buddy, alright."

She slowly climbed into some pants and mustered up a hoodie. Didn't bother with shoes. Yawned. Patted his head. Together they shuffled through the house and onto the sidewalk in front of the house. This time of morning kept the orange glow of street lights and the quiet of a carless neighborhood street.

Eli did his business, pawed the ground on his slice of turf. Glad about the short potty break, she took two backwards steps toward the front door, still facing him.

The rest happened quickly. She saw his ears go up. A coyote appeared a few feet away, approaching from the street.

The air shifted.

Eli's whole body radiated energy in her defense; with his entire being he barked his face off and started to chase the coyote away. This single coyote had the company of two more, making it a pack of three. Eli ran after them. Trinity ran after Eli. It was after she yelled at him to come back that a fourth coyote took him by the neck from behind. Eli's body softened so abruptly in its jaws. Quiet never happened so quickly in Los Angeles. She stood there not breathing because her world had ended and she didn't want the next world to begin.

What followed was a blur of barefoot steps, crying out, returning home for shoes and an umbrella to do something in her dog's defense in case it wasn't too late.

After while it felt like exactly that: too late.

II.

The Commander

After they had crossed the Hollywood Hills, the coyote that held Eli by the neck slowed down and set him down gently. He apologized for being too rough.

“Sorry about that, buddy. I had to make it look convincing.”

Eli rearranged himself once he landed on all fours with a vigorous full body shake from head to tail. He took a long stretch, sniffed the air, and signaled for them to continue on to the nearby creek.

“That’s alright, Marve. Operation Charade is the only way it could be done; there’s no way in my right mind that I’d leave her. In time, the certainty of my capture would give her peace.” He was suddenly misty eyed as he glanced at the picture of the two of them he arranged to be placed in a locket for his new collar. A tear rolled down his cheek. “Anyhow, it had to be done. Now is the turning point for all of us…”

Commander Eli and the Coyotes eventually reached the rendezvous point. There among the trees and moss covered rocks was the largest gathering of chickensheep one could imagine. As they realized the arrival of Eli and his crew, sleepy faces turned into big-mouthed grins and wagging tails. Happily swaying chickensheep butts filled the knee-level sky. Eli sniffed and butted heads with Ralph, Captain, and Sherlock. After a good twenty minutes of their favorite game, Spazzy Side-eye Keep Away, Eli put his new collar on and made his way to the podium. A large holographic map zapped on, illuminating the space behind the makeshift stage. He looked out into the fuzzy crowd of velveteen ears and big brown noses.

“I’d like to express my deep gratitude to you all for being here this morning. And thanks again to the pack for your stellar execution of the pickup.”

The coyotes yipped into the sky out of respect. One chickensheep sitting close to them nudged his Tandem Dog on the shoulder.

Eli spoke slowly at first, “To those who just arrived --myself included, I know this initial stage was painful on many levels…” The air filled with silent understanding. They were all aware of the strong emotions around the moments of their own Charade. Many were also aware of the incredible bond Eli had with his human. “No revolution was ever easy or without sacrifice. Yet, the time is here to do our part. You have been made well aware of your assignments, sniffed out from your Designated Neighborhood Hotspots. After running the numbers with the surrounding districts, the Table has determined that data we’ve collected regarding the human pleasure scale is, in fact, accurate. Faith in the future is being dwindled by rising stress levels and mental escape during these trying times. We have to accelerate our training, ramp up affection levels on purpose and begin educating the little ones on the No Matter What principles. Without further ado, I’d like to present the details of Project Escapade...”