Shelby's Story: A Dog's Way Home Tale

Shelby's Story: A Dog's Way Home Tale

by W. Bruce Cameron

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250301918
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 10,598
Product dimensions: 5.71(w) x 8.53(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 8 - 11 Years

About the Author

W. BRUCE CAMERON is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey, A Dog’s Way Home (all now major motion pictures), The Dog Master, Ellie's Story, Molly’s Story, Max’s Story, Shelby’s Story, The Dogs of Christmas, The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, and others. He lives in California.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

There are just a few things I can remember about my earliest days.

Of course, there was my mother. At first I could not see her, but I could smell her and feel the comforting heat of her body beneath her thick fur. My mother was warmth and safety and milk that filled my stomach and left me sleepy and content, curled up next to her.

I could hear noises, too. Sometimes there were sharp yips or squeaks. Sometimes a bang that made me twitch, even in my dreams. There was a rattling, clanking sound that I heard regularly, and a little trickling noise that never went away.

I found it all so soothing. The trickling sound, my mother, and the comfort of furry bodies sleeping close together.

That was how everything started.

After a few days, my eyes opened and I was able to stay awake longer than before. I began to learn things.

I learned that my mother was big and shorthaired and white, with a wet nose and a wide, blocky face. Her tongue was long, and strong enough that when she washed me with it I fell over.

I had brothers and a sister, too! That came as something of a surprise. They were the source of the little yips and squeals that I heard. They were part of what kept me warm, too, so I liked them, even if they did step on me quite a lot.

Two of my brothers were white, just like my mother. Another was brown, black, and white in patches. My sister was brown and black with a tiny splotch of white on her chest — just like me. In my mind, I named her Splotch.

The trickling noise that I heard night and day came from a long, twisty hose that lay on the ground. Water ran out of this, dripping into a metal bowl. Sometimes my mother went over to take a drink from the bowl. I didn't bother, though, and neither did my littermates. Milk from our mother was all we needed.

The bang that I heard so often came, I discovered, from a house nearby. Twice a day, a door in that house would open and a person would come down a few steps into the yard where we lived.

The door would slam shut behind her with a sharp, loud sound and the person would shuffle forward. She'd put a bowl full of brown stuff down on the ground near our mother and then return inside the house.

She was the first human I'd ever seen. Frankly, I didn't think she was very interesting. She never stayed to talk to us or pet us, so I decided she was not someone I had to care much about.

When she put the bowl down on the ground, my mother would get up, sometimes shaking off a puppy or two, and walk over to it. Then I would hear that clanking sound once again. It came from the chain that was attached to my mother's collar. The other end of that chain was connected to a long stake driven into the ground.

When my mother moved, the chain clanked. When she shook her head or stretched, the chain rang with a harsh music. When she settled down again, the chain was quiet.

My mother would put her nose in the bowl and gobble up the brown stuff inside. When my legs grew a bit stronger, I sometimes went over to sniff at it, but it never smelled very exciting to me. I didn't see why my mother liked it so much.

There were lots of other things in the yard that were more interesting than a bowl full of brown chunks. As I got older, I was able to learn more about them.

Dandelions, for one. They were fuzzy yellow circles attached to strong stems. They did not taste very good, but when I bit at them they bobbed and danced on their stems, and that was almost like a game.

Sticks, too! Sticks were everywhere. And sticks did taste good, especially as my teeth started to come in and I could gnaw off bits of bark.

The other good thing about sticks was that my brothers and sister wanted them' too. That meant, if I had a stick and they didn't, it was time for a game called I've-Got-the-Stick-and-You-Don't.

I loved that game!

My sister was especially good at playing it. My brothers wanted to remain closer to my mother's side, but if I had a stick Splotch would chase me until I dropped it and she could snatch it. Then it was my turn to chase her.

What a marvelous thing to do!

Day by day, Splotch and I grew stronger, and our play took us all over the yard. We played other things too. There was Chase-Me and I'm-the-One-On-Top and Look-How-Fierce-I-Can-Be. All of them were delightful games, and after we were done we'd run back to my mother for a meal of milk and a good long sleep.

This was my life until the day the door banged open and the human lady put down a bowl for my mother and also a tray full of dark-colored goop. My brothers and Splotch and I loved that stuff! We licked it and chewed it and stood in it and rolled in it. I ate it from the tray and my feet and Splotch's face. Glop was the best! I still went to my mother to nurse, but more for comfort than hunger, now that my siblings were covered with glop and I could snack anytime I wanted!

One day after I'd licked Splotch's face clean of glop and she'd licked mine, we began to wrestle. Splotch shook me off, and I rolled and kept rolling until I bumped up against something I'd seen but never thought much about.

The fence.

It was the first time I'd really examined the fence. It went all the way around our yard, and it was made of chilly wire that did not taste good. I know, because I tried to bite it.

Splotch came over and chewed on my ear, trying to get my attention. But I shook my head so that she fell over, and kept sniffing at the fence.

Something had caught my attention.

On the other side of the fence I could detect a new smell. And it was very, very interesting.

Later I would find out that the smell I'd encountered here, for the first time, was called a piece of chicken. I didn't know that then. All I knew was that my tail began springing back and forth even faster than my nose was twitching.

I was growing fast in those days, and my brothers and sister were, too. I ate as much glop as I could before it was all gone, but I was still a little hungry all the time.

The brown stuff in my mother's bowl was starting to smell interesting to me. And this thing on the other side of the fence smelled a little like the chunks in that bowl ... but better. Much, much better. So much better that I licked my lips.

I put my nose down to the spot where the fence met the ground and sniffed harder. The delicious new smell was so close ... only a few inches away. But the fence kept my nose from reaching it.

Splotch had figured out what I was doing. She came to the fence and put her nose right next to mine. She sniffed hard as well.

I pushed at her nose, she pushed at mine, and we discovered something extraordinary.

A hole!

The fence had a gap in it, right where the metal wire met the ground. It was not a large hole. My mother would never have been able to fit through it. But when I lay down flat on my tummy and wiggled and pushed with my back feet, I could shove myself through it.

Now I was on the other side of the fence. And the thing that smelled so good was right next to me on the ground!

I grabbed at it, but it slipped out of my teeth. Splotch had wiggled through the fence behind me and she grabbed at the treat as well, but the same thing happened to her. We were not used to chewing yet, and our jaws were not strong.

But we didn't give up. We both nibbled and licked at that piece of chicken, and after a few more tries we each ripped off a tiny mouthful that tasted marvelous. I gulped and it slid right down my throat into my stomach, and that made me anxious for more.

In a few minutes the chicken was entirely gone and my sister and I were both licking at the greasy spot on the grass where it had lain.

From inside the yard, I heard a sharp, urgent bark. It was our mother. I looked up and saw her standing as close to the fence as her chain would let her get. She barked again, and I understood.

I wiggled back under the fence, with Splotch following, and ran up to my mother, tail wagging, trying to tell her what a wonderful adventure I'd had. She sniffed me all over and did the same to my sister, and then she nudged me until I lay down with her.

I had a good sleep, close to my mother and littermates. But I didn't forget what I'd found on the other side of the fence.

That bit of wonderful food stayed on my mind as my brothers and sister and I continued to grow. My mother stopped nursing us, turning away from the sharp little teeth we'd all sprouted. Which meant I was on glop-only. Which should have been fine except there never seemed to be enough! I always wanted more. When I curled up to sleep at night, my stomach sometimes growled as if it were angry at me.

That hole in the fence drew me back time and time again. Was there more food outside? More of that wonderful piece of chicken? Maybe even something ... better?

Better than chicken? I drooled at the thought. I dreamed about it.

I would lean against the fence and sniff. Once I even squirmed through. But there was no more chicken on the ground, and I couldn't smell any nearby. Or anything else to eat.

My mother barked a warning, and I wiggled back through the fence to cuddle close to her and be licked and sniffed.

But my stomach growled loudly at me that night. It wanted to be fed.

The next day, I returned to the hole in the fence. Splotch came with me. I put my head into the hole and sniffed, while my sister tried to climb on my back.

I didn't smell more chicken. But I smelled ... something.

It was a big smell. That was the only way I could describe it to myself. It combined dirt and grass and water and small furry animals that moved quickly. Included in this smell were other dogs and people and dust and wind and harsh, smoky odors that came from the cars that went up and down the street near our yard.

It was the smell of the world outside our yard. And that world must have more food in it. Somewhere in that world there would be another piece of chicken. Or maybe just more glop.

I did not want to leave my mother. Part of me wanted to stay in the yard, playing and wrestling with my littermates, sleeping close to my family's warmth.

But the smell of the world called to me. It seemed to pull me through the hole in the fence.

Splotch fell off my back, and I wiggled and pushed with my back legs. The hole seemed to have gotten smaller since the first time I tried it, which was strange. It was a tight fit, but I still managed to squeeze through.

Splotch followed me.

I looked back and saw my mother sitting where she always sat, attached by the chain to the stake in the ground. She tilted her head and watched me. But this time she did not bark to call me back.

Maybe she knew about the world and how big it smelled, even if she could not go with us. She could not fit through the hole, and her chain kept her in one place.

But I thought she might understand about the chicken. I thought she knew it was time for Splotch and me to find it. Or whatever else there might be.

CHAPTER 2

My sister and I began to learn about the world very quickly. One of the first things we learned was that the world was full of wheels and that dogs need to stay away from them.

Once we squeezed through the fence, we wandered along a narrow space with our metal fence on one side and a different, wooden fence on the other. This took us to something new — a hard path set into the grass. It ran farther out into the world than we could see, and I could smell that many, many different feet had walked upon it.

I had my nose down, sniffing hard, when something rushed past me, much faster than any puppy could run. There were two round black things — wheels — spinning very quickly, and a person riding on top of the wheels.

"Watch out, puppy!" this person yelled as he spun past.

I leaped back with a startled yelp. Splotch sat down and yipped at the strange thing that had hurried by.

I didn't like it. Wheels, I decided, were not kind to dogs.

Other things hurried past on wheels as well. These were cars. I knew about them, because I could see and hear and smell them from our yard. They went even faster than the thing with two wheels. But sometimes they stopped and didn't move at all.

It was confusing.

One of these cars stopped close to us, and that's when I realized that they were something like metal boxes on wheels. Inside the boxes were people! I figured that out because a door in the box opened and someone came out.

This person was smaller than the woman who brought food in the metal bowls. "Oh, Mommy! Puppies!" she called out in a high voice.

"Samantha, get back inside," another voice answered.

"But Mommy ...," the small person said. She came toward us with her hand out.

She smelled interesting — sweet and soapy. But she'd just gotten out of the thing with wheels and I did not like wheels.

I ran away. My sister followed.

"Awww. ...," said the small person sadly.

"I'm sure they live around here. They're probably headed home right now," said the other voice. "Come on, Samantha, back in the car. We're going to be late."

The thing with wheels rushed away.

Things with wheels! People of different sizes! I wondered what else I'd find out here in the world.

Food, it turned out. I'd been right when I thought that there was going to be food beyond the fence.

So many different kinds of food!

I saw that Splotch, ahead of me, was sniffing at a big plastic bag sitting next to our hard path. She seemed excited about it, so I rushed up to see what was so interesting.

Inside the plastic, there was definitely food. I could smell it!

My sister bit at the plastic. I did the same. She gripped with her teeth and shook her head. I tightened up my jaws as well, and when she pulled at the plastic I yanked the other way.

It ripped.

What fell out onto the grass was amazing. There was a big lump of mushy meat. There were bits of bread in another plastic bag that my sister quickly tore to shreds. There was a paper carton with a little milk sloshing inside it. That was hard to chew open, but I did and managed to lick up some of the milk before it drained away into the grass.

How wonderful! We'd been right to come through the fence.

"Hey, get out of that!" somebody yelled. "Get away from there!" I didn't look up. I was busy getting the last of the milk.

"Move it!" the voice shouted. Now it was louder.

Then a rock fell out of the air right next to my nose. I jumped back, shaking my head. Milk droplets scattered.

The next rock hit me right on my rump!

It stung. I spun around with a surprised yelp and saw a person coming toward us. His face and his shoulders and his stride looked angry. He had another rock in his hand, and he drew it back, ready to throw.

This was like the wheels, I realized. It was a danger. The world had amazing food, but it also held dangers for dogs. The best thing to do with danger was to run away from it.

I did. Splotch stayed close to me and we raced off down the hard path, farther and farther away from the yard with the hole in the fence where our mother and brothers were.

"Look at this mess!" the person with the rock called behind us. "I'm going to be late to work now. Stupid dogs! Stay away if you know what's good for you!" My sister and I ran until we came to a corner. We turned it so that we'd be out of the sight of the angry man with the rocks. There was a bush growing next to the hard path, and we huddled under it, close together.

I licked my sister's muzzle, which still had a little bit of that mushy meat clinging to it.

We were both tired, so we slept there together. When I woke, it was dark.

I knew about darkness. It became dark every night in our yard, and sometimes a little cold. The thing to do with darkness was to cuddle close to someone warm and wait for it to go away.

My sister was not as warm as my mother. Still, I squirmed close to her, and she did the same thing to me. We stayed under our bush until the light came back, and then I discovered that my stomach was empty again.

Stomachs are a lot of work.

My sister and I crawled out from under our bush, ready to find another plastic bag full of food. To our surprise, there were none! We looked up and down the hard path, but we didn't see a single plastic bag anywhere.

I wondered if we should try to make our way back to the yard and find our mother and brothers. There would be that tray of glop there. Even if it wasn't enough, it would be something.

But I wasn't quite sure which way to go to find the yard again, and Splotch had already wandered a little way down the hard path. She found a new yard where a metal contraption was spraying water all over. Fun!

She barked and jumped at the flying water, and I joined her for a bit. Then I lapped up a drink from a puddle. It did not fill up my belly like the meat and milk from yesterday, but it helped.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Shelby's Story"
by .
Copyright © 2018 W. Bruce Cameron.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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