Tales From Travis: Lilly's Story
I have been here in the pound for as long as I can remember. I have seen this place go through many changes, I have seen the differing opinions about this place I call home, and I have seen the heartbreak that goes on here. But this is not my story, and not about what I have seen. This is the story of a little yellow Aisha named Lilly.
That day had dragged on, but was finally starting to wind down into the solace of night. I had just returned from the large cafeteria where we are fed our meager meals and I was ready for a sleep that I knew would be a deep one. As I lay down on the little cot allotted to me in my bare room, I heard a very loud noise coming from the end of the hallway near the main entrance.
“Are you sure you want to abandon me?! Please don’t! Momma, you can’t! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” A female voice shattered the stillness of the night like a fist thrown through a pane of glass. I had heard the pitiful cries of a pet being abandoned many times, but never so loudly and with so much verve! I suddenly decided to see who this new arrival was... and where she got such an impressive pair of lungs.
“Hush now, little Lilly, it’s all right. An owner like that doesn’t deserve a sweet little Aisha like you to love her.” That was Dr. Death’s voice; I knew it well. That little Aisha was lucky. Not many pets saw the kinder side of old Deathy.
“I... want... my... MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMAAAA!” The little Aisha shrieked loudly. So much for the good doctor’s sympathies. As I rounded the corner quite a scene unfolded before my eyes in the main lobby. Ms. Rose, the Uni in charge of adoptions, was holding a little yellow Aisha in her arms who Dr. Death was trying desperately to comfort, and the little Aisha was howling like there was no tomorrow. Ray, the robot Hissi in charge of transfers had just slithered into the room with a battered old Bruce plushie and was now waving it frantically in front of the Aisha trying to calm her. Dr. Death turned suddenly and noticed me.
“Travis, normally I’d be annoyed that you aren’t respecting curfew, but at the moment I’d really appreciate it if you could quiet this little one here. I’ve never heard anyone scream so loudly! You always had a way with the younger ones; could you please....”
“I’ll take care of it,” I said. “Hand her to me, Rose.” Rose gratefully held out the screaming pet, who looked to be about ten years old. The little one screamed even louder at the sight of me and buried her head in Rose’s chest. I chuckled.
“Don’t worry, child, I may look big and gruff but I don’t bite.”
“Don’t eat me, Mr. Big Red Skeith!” she screamed. I grinned broadly... but not broadly enough to show my large teeth and frighten her again.
“I won’t eat you, child. But I will play a game with you if you stop screaming and come see your new room. Everyone’s very nice here, and Mr. Ray here even brought you a plushie to play with. I have a plushie too, and we can play with them together if you’d like that.”
Slowly, she unburied her head from Rose’s chest and a very faint smile crossed her face. “I like playing with plushies. I had thirty seven of them at home. Can we play shopping with them?”
I nodded and, very slowly, she shifted herself from Rose’s arms into my own. I cradled her gently and then took the plushie from Ray. Flashing the flustered pound staff a triumphant smile, I took Aisha down the second hallway and set her down in one of the empty rooms reserved for new arrivals. Then, handing her the plushie, I sat down on the floor.
“So what’s your name, little one?” I asked.
“Lilly. I’m nine and three quarters years old. How old are you, Mr. Big Red Skeith?”
I laughed a bit at my new title. “Well, you are a very grown-up young lady, Ms. Lilly, but I’m afraid I’m a tiny bit older than you. I don’t know my exact age, but it’s been guessed to be around 100. And my name isn’t Mr. Big Red Skeith, it’s Travis.”
Lilly looked at me in wonder. “Have you been here 100 years?” she asked, her blue eyes wide as saucers. I noted with relief that she had forgotten my promise to play plushies with her and was inching towards the bed that sat in the corner of the room.
“Nearly, but I got adopted once or twice. I always seem to end up back here, though. It’s not bad, though; I’ve gotten used to this place.”
Lilly’s eyes screwed up a bit in the corners and she looked as though she might cry again. “Will I ever get adopted, Mr. Travis? I don’t want to be here 100 years!” A single tear fell from her eyes and it looked as though a flood was soon to follow.
“Well now, Lilly, I could lie to you and say that you will definitely get adopted, but that isn’t true. You might get adopted and you might not. But do you know what the important thing is, Lilly?” I asked, knowing I was risking a temper tantrum with my honesty. Miraculously, though, the torrent of tears never came.
“What? What’s the most important thing?” she asked with curiosity.
“The most important thing, Lilly, is that you always make the best of wherever you are. You can be happy with your surroundings even if they’re bad. Just keep a smile on your face and reach out to help others that don’t.”
Lilly seemed mystified by this new piece of information, and I could tell she was thinking hard about it. I decided one more bit of honesty couldn’t hurt.
“You know, though, Lilly, there is a good chance you will be adopted. But it might not happen right away, so just keep smiling and helping others while you wait. Patience, perseverance and hope, that’s what’ll keep you going.”
Lilly’s small face suddenly became determined. “I’ll do it, Mr. Travis. I’ll be happy. And I’ll help, like you said. It takes more than being abandoned to bring Lilly down!” I smiled; it didn’t take too much to keep this one’s spirits up.
The next morning, in line for breakfast, I noticed Lilly. She was hopping up and down just as happy as could be, chatting with a few of the younger pets her age. Unfortunately, Becca, a blue Kougra who had arrived here last month, was clearly annoyed with her.
“You shouldn’t be so happy, stupid! Don’t you know we’re in the pound! We could be here forever and never get a real home!” For a split second, I thought Lilly would start up with that ear-splitting howl again, but she didn’t.
“So what if we are here forever? Mr. Travis likes it here, and he’s been here for 100 years! There’s a playground that we get to play on here, and good food, and lots of interesting pets to talk to!” Becca just rolled her eyes, but from the way she slumped her shoulders you could tell she had lost that argument.
A week went by, and Lilly's spirits still soared. Then after breakfast one day it was time for all the potential owners to be let in to see pets. I looked for Lilly and finally saw her way up at the front of the long line of pets, humans rushing past without giving her a second glance. It didn’t faze her, though; she just kept grinning and joking with a good-natured looking blue Uni. Suddenly a human girl with short brown hair stopped in front of Lilly and started talking to her. I could see Lilly’s adorable little grin spread into a wide smile, and then Lilly rushed down the line to me.
“Mr. Travis! You won’t believe it! There’s this girl named Tina and she said she lives in a house in Meridell and she wants to adopt me! I told her all about you telling me to be happy and I told her all about everything and she says that... well, she can tell you!” Tina appeared at Lilly’s side and smiled.
“If you want, Travis, I can take you home too. I can take you out of this place forever.”
I smiled at Lilly and ruffled her fur, and then I turned to Tina.
“Sorry, miss, but I belong here. It’s my home, and I can do some good here that I wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere. Thanks, though.” Lilly’s smile drooped slightly, but I could see understanding in her eyes.
“Thank you for your help Mr. Travis. I’ll never forget you,” she said. She then hugged me fiercely and ran off, beaming with joy, to her new home.
That night when all was still, I sat on my bed reflecting. What I had told Tina and Lilly was true; I did belong here. People always think that it’s a pet’s dream to escape from the pound and to find an owner and a loving home. All those stories where poor unhappy pets get abandoned and then find loving owners who will never hurt them are fine for some. But while I may not have an owner, I definitely have a home and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.