The Family Friend
A Child’s Familiar Fable of The Spirit Realm
By Shayne Workman
“The Family Friend: A Child’s Familiar Fable of The Spirit Realm” Copyright © 2016 All Right’s Reserved By Shayne Workman.
For Aleeah and Scrappy
The woods were quiet and the dim light of early evening shone through the trees. The silence was broken by the whining of a dog. Shags the pitbull limped, bleeding, through the trees in the forest, his injury, the result of a .38 caliber bullet hole that went clean through his shoulder. He had been shot in the process of trying to get away. His frantic look of desperation and confusion on where to go in the unfamiliar territory that he had been brought to after being taken from his family, mistaken for a ferocity that the dog had never showed in his four years of life.
Shags had slipped the collar and he saw an opening, knowing only that he had to get back to his family wherever they were now. He ran, the wind causing his lips to flap and the lids of his eyes to pull back in a slant. It was a look that had brought joy and laughter to River, the dogs owner, for many years when they would play in the yard. The officer had been to the left in front of him, but all Shags saw in his tunnel vision was the open path to freedom. The shot rang out as the bullet tore through the thick muscular shoulder of the dog. The impact of the shot knocked the big dog to the ground and he yelped, a horrid sound of pain and fear. The thought did not pass his dog mind in words but rather the increased urgency that he had to get home, had to get to River. Adrenaline pulsed through his large frame increasing the already formidable pain tolerance of his breed as Shags rose and again took to running. Two more shots rung out, both missed.
Shags collapsed on the wet fallen leaves, still on the ground from the previous Autumn. His breathing was shallow and he whimpered with each breath as the blood continued to flow from the gaping wound in his shoulder. He stared out ahead of him, the last of the days light intermingling with the multiple tiny lights floating in the forest, some from fireflies, some from the fairies that made the woods their home. Shags watched the lights of the little beings getting ever brighter as the light of the day itself slowly faded.
River sat in her room crying. It wasn’t fair that Shags was taken from her, he had done nothing wrong. Shags was given to her as a puppy that she could lift in one hand four years before. His name was Pup at the time. It was not for another five months when he became half of River’s size, a forty-five pound mass of muscle and puppy like goofiness that he was given the name Shags because of his habit of sliding down the carpet of the stairs face first on his side for fun. He would get to the bottom, sneeze and then dart up the stairs to do it again. He liked making River laugh, it filled his puppy heart with joy and the hugs he got afterwards didn’t hurt either. He was always there for her in the tough times like after she came home from her first day of school. She had been so nervous, and she had doubts about going back the next day, but when she got home Shags was there excited and wagging his tail. He was there on the day she found out that she was sick and would need treatments. She had cried then too and he had jumped up on the bed and lay next to her gently laying his big flat head in her lap. It was comforting, to know she had this friend that was always there for her when she needed it most.
Three days before there had been a report on the news about a dog fighting ring getting broken up when one of the dogs escaped and attacked a kid that was walking home from school. Among the penalties faced by those who ran the clandestine operation was a fine for an all but forgotten ban on the pitbull breed. For years River and her family had lived happily with Shags, but after this report came up, one of their neighbors saw the little girl playing in the yard with Shags and had called the authorities. Now Shags was gone. Five people had come to their door, dog catchers and officers both, to take Shags. River begged them not to take him and her parents did everything they could to try and reason with them. They would have none of it. One of the officers saw fit, in front of the family to keep his hand on his gun and remind them that if the dog made any sudden movements in the process of being removed that he was full within his rights to put the dog down on the spot.
“Please, let Shags come home.” She said through her tears. Unknown to River, she had another companion. One she had never met, but one who had been with her far longer than Shags, lifetimes in point of fact. He did not yet have a name, for only the incarnation destined to make the connection with him would name him. He was River’s spirit guide and guardian. One day he would be called Howlett, but for now he was just a barn owl with strange yellow green eyes that had pinprick pupils. He watched as the girl cried, but when she had asked for Shags to be returned, Her choice set into motion his ability to give aid to the familiar that had made a connection to his charge.
Into the night sky the barn owl flew. The energy of the connection the familiar shared with River, his guide to finding the location where Shags lay bleeding and tending to his wound. The live animals of the waking world were familiars, all of them, their own breed of nature spirit. The wild ones were often used as emissaries for the spirit guides, but those that were domesticated made deeper connections with people that allowed for them to share in the protection and guidance of their people’s twin flame.
Shags lay licking his wound to keep it clean, he was lightheaded from the blood loss and weak, but there was nothing for him to do but what his instinct told him to do. If he could think in the same fashion that people do, he would have wished that in that moment River could be there with him as he had been for her many times. Instead he remembered and he felt, both the love in the memory and the pain that it was now lost to him. “Shags.” The voice entered his mind. He stopped licking his wound and looked up, his ears perked, his eyes confused yet happy to hear his name, though unsure of how. The owl landed in front of him. “Shags, come on boy, we’re going to get you back where you belong.” Shags immediately recognized the owl, he had been aware of his presence and his connection to River from the very start and most importantly, he was happy to see a friendly face he knew. The big dog started wagging his tail.
The owl saw the wound and coming closer began flapping his wings, within moments the movement began to generate a soft glowing white light and Shags felt a strange humming vibration enter him through the wound in his shoulder. The bleeding had stopped, though the damage was still present, but Shags felt a renewed strength enter his body and with steely, bull headed resolve, the dog got up to all fours and watched as the owl took flight. “Alright boy, lets play.” The voice in his head told him as the owl brushed his cold wet nose make him sneeze and go into the chase down, which was always Shag’s favorite game. As the owl took flight Shags went into pursuit, ignoring the pain in his body as he did.
In just under an hour Shags had followed the owl to a very familiar location, the place he had seen everyday for four years, his home. Time for a little help. The owl thought and sent out the call in the speech of the owls and found one nearby. The owl had received the call from the spirit guide and took flight lighting heavily on the car that belonged to River’s parents and setting off the alarm in the process. Not a full minute had passed before River’s father came out of the house to deal with the alarm. Shags wagged his tail as he watched the man look around confused as to how the alarm was set off in the first place. As Rivers dad turned to go back into the gate of the yard he heard a whining dog and upon looking found Shags limping happily towards him wagging his tail. “Shags?” He said. “Is that you boy?” The dog now moved faster at a labored trot. “Oh God. What happened to you boy?” He said as he noticed the gunshot wound in the dogs shoulder. Looking around to make sure there were no prying eyes, the man led Shags into the house.
River was still sitting on her bed crying when father came to her door. “River honey, come on out. there is someone here to see you.” He said. After a moment River had dried her tears and came to the door. “He’s in the living room, come on down.” Without a word the little girl followed her father down the stairs and her face suddenly lit up when she saw her buddy laying on the floor. “SHAGS!!!” She cried running to the dogs side. Shags managed a lazy but steady thumping of a wagging tail as his person rushed to his side, just like he knew she would.
River got upset when she saw that Shags had been hurt. “He’s been hurt!” She said. New tears spilling down her cheeks. “He has, and we need to get him to the all night vet as soon as we can.” Her father said. “So why don’t you go upstairs get dressed and we’ll take him to get that fixed up, what do you say?” Her dad barely had time to ask before River hugged him tight and darted back upstairs to get ready without even another word.
If owls had the type of mouths that could register a smile, River’s unknown spirit partner would have been seen as happy, but he roosted instead with a clear look of peaceful contentment for a job well done. Shags did heal from his injury, and he was sent to a family member who lived in a more tolerant environment,and River came to visit once a week during her treatments. She along with her family launched a fight to get the breed ban lifted in order to allow Shags to come home to stay.
This story was one that I had not anticipated on writing. I had hoped to take a little break from The Spirit Realm, but it seems every time I try my Middle Earth just keeps calling to me. This time however, there was a purpose to it. A few days back I received a link to a petition for helping the family of a young four year old girl with cystic fibrosis, keep their dog that has been a huge source of comfort and security for the girl as she goes through her treatments. Their dog Scrappy, is a Pit bull and the petition is to help lift the breed specific ban and allow the two to stay together. I have been pushing this every chance I get ever since. I am a supporter of the breed. I have had two myself and in all honesty, you really can not find a more loyal companion than a pit bull, also as a misunderstood misfit myself I know what this breed faces. I was inspired by the story of this girl and her dog to tell one of my own that might give people an idea of how laws like this created and fueled by the paranoia caused by mass media coverage can put a family like this through Hell. I mean those with pets know, that they are family and laws like this really are the equivalent of having CPS come and take your kid away for no damn reason. The petition is still up, they are still in need of signatures 12,046 to be exact to reach a 150,000 milestone. I am leaving the link here. Please do look into it, sign it and pass it along. Thank you, – Love BIG CAT