Hatchu opened his eyes and found himself in a mesmerising meadow of greens. The constant pain in his hind limbs was no more there. Neither was there the nagging agony in his kidneys. He slowly lifted his right leg just a little bit to mark his territory. He was scared, that like every time, there would be blood and torment, but was delighted to relieve his bladder without a single clot or any anguish. He wondered, what was this place though? The most beautiful farmland that he had ever seen, dotted with tall trees swaying in the gentle breeze and a spellbinding rainbow far away on the horizon at the end of a hypnotic field?
The little Pug dog who had always thought himself to be a mighty Mastiff felt an uncanny urge to run towards the arched spectrum far away in the sky. He felt like an insect drawn towards a beam of light. He was scared though, that he would not be able to do it. After all, for the last three years, he had not been able to jump or run like he previously did. ‘Polyps in the kidneys,’ that’s what everyone called it. That’s what the doctor’s said would end it.
Now he felt good though, as the pain was no more there. Kicking the soft soil of the enchanting field with both of his legs, shovelling earth all around him, the little pooch darted towards the seven coloured longbow in the firmament. He barked with overwhelming happiness, realising that he was completely healed of the sickness that had stolen the joys of his life and all his excitement.
Satisfied to the brim with his regained health and energy, Hatchu stopped to catch his breath after a few minutes of sprinting. There were too many smells all around; he had to catch a whiff of everything. The little pug wondered though, where was his family, his loving old momma, his ever-caring Boe, and hero Bigbro?
Lifting his flattened nose high, the naughty little pug caught the first smell of another dog in this enchanting field. All his life, he had hated other canines. He had always been scared that those other mutts would come and claim a share of his human’s love that he had so bountifully received.
Hatchu did not remember his parents. Bigbro had brought him to his new home when he was forty-five days old. As time passed, he learned many tricks and became a darling of the house living with Bigbro and his momma. Then Bigbro fell in love, married, and brought home the beautiful Boe, who became Hatchu’s most loving and constant companion, always spoiling him to the core.
The smell of the other dog grew stronger, it was a female for sure, and then it sprang from the tall grass and circled him. Part Husky, part Samoyed and part Terrier, the tiny dog was a feisty little mixed breed.
“Hello there, I am Hatchu. What is this place? Can you tell me please,” spoke up the little pug, shedding his inhibition of talking with other canines? “This is the way to the Rainbow Bridge, where every dog gets a choice and finds the meaning of his life,” answered the black and white pointy-ear short-legged mongrel mix. “How can you know this; you are just a mongrel. I used to bark the daylights out of your kind from my balcony back at home,” said the snooty pug with an air of mockery.
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. In the year 1957, I became the first animal to go to space and successfully orbit the Earth. Though I was born and raised low in the streets, my name resonates amongst the stars and planets high above the skies. Continue towards the Rainbow Bridge, and you will get all your answers there. I am Laika from Russia,” said the little dog and sprung into the green grass and vanished before Hatchu could say any other thing.
There were treats all along the way. Hatchu stopped now and then to grab a grub and munch on it to his heart’s content. There were his favourite chicken-licken sticks, lard bones, sweet biscuits, and so many of his other favourite delicacies. He thought he could spend his whole life here but then where was his family. After all, without momma, Boe, and Bigbro, life did not mean anything. He had to find them out, whatever the cost may be.
At that moment, from behind a Juniper tree emerged a medium-sized Scottish Collie. “Hey there little one, why so sad,” said the brown and white long-haired dog. “Well, you see, I can’t find my family, my momma, Boe and Bigbro. Do you know how far and where I must go to find them? Do you know anything about travelling? It doesn’t seem like you know much about journeys,” enquired Hatchu with a bit of anxiety.
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. In the year 1923, I journeyed all alone around four-thousand-eight-hundred kilometres from Wolcott, Indiana to Silverton, Oregon, in the United States to return to my owners Frank and Elizabeth Brazier, and their daughters Leona and Nova. Journey to the Rainbow Bridge, and you will get all your answers there. I am Bobbie the Wonder Dog, and my name is etched in the annals of history as the furthest self-travelling canine,” said the Scottish Collie and sprinted away from the little pug who continued on his journey towards the Rainbow Bridge.
After continuing for a few more hours, Hatchu came to the edge of a beautiful brook, and on the bridge, that arched above it stood the most majestic Mastiff that he had ever seen. “Hello there, do you know how long it would take for me to reach the Rainbow Bridge? Do you know about any dangers that I might face on this journey? You are a big guy, but do you have a big brain to answer me,” asked Hatchu with a bit of jealousy, looking at the mighty Mastiff?
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. I have faced many dangers in my life, fought and killed lions and went to many a battle. In 331 BC, I bit the lip of the elephant of Persia’s King Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela to save my master. When you meet the tenth dog, you will know that you have reached the end of your journey and find yourself at the bottom of the Rainbow Bridge. There you will find all your answers,” said the majestic Mastiff and slowly crossed the brook bridge.
“What is your name, mighty one,” shouted Hatchu? “I am Peritas, the faithful dog who stood against the mightiest of beasts to save my master Alexander the Great,” replied the noble canine and walked away into the green field.
Beyond the bridge stood a beautiful wood, not so scary but quite welcoming. High above and beyond the jungle canopy, Hatchu could still see the Rainbow Bridge. Gazing back at the forest, the little pug felt a bit scared and then nearly froze stiff as he saw a large bear approaching him from amidst the trees.
“Save me Bigbro I don’t want to die,” screamed the little pug. “Hold on there piglet, no one is going to kill you,” answered the creature as it emerged from the woods. Hatchu was relieved to see that it was no bear, but a colossal St. Bernard dog. “I thought you were a beast that could only kill,” said Hatchu with a certain air of relief.
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. I have never killed anything in my life. On the contrary, between 1800 to 1812, I saved the lives of more than 40 human beings who got trapped under the snow or got lost in the Swiss Alps. Come, I will accompany you on this part of your journey through the woods. I am Barry der Menschenretter or Barry the people rescuer of the Great St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland,” said the gargantuan dog and walked alongside the tiny pug.
As Hatchu said adieu to Barry at the edge of the forest and moved a few steps, he felt a great sadness creep over him. He wanted to nestle in the arms of his loving Boe. He did not want to wander in this place anymore. Right then, as he felt really miserable, he saw a lively little dark-furred female Cairn Terrier and a large male German Shepherd approach him.
“Good day little one,” spoke up the Alsatian Wolf Dog. “This is no place for sadness, cheer up friend,” added the Scottish Highlands Terrier. “How can it be a good day when I can’t find my family? Are you two some kind of giant-midget duo of buffoons. Can’t you even act a little bit to console my misery,” angrily spoke Hatchu?
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. We know all about acting. Emerging from the Great Depression in America in the 1930s, I went on to star in more than seventeen movies. I guess you have not seen the Wizard of Oz 1939 version, or else you would have instantly recognised me,” said the Terrier with much glee.
“I, my friend, also know a thing or two about acting. After being rescued from the streets of battle-ravaged France during World War I by the American soldier Lee Duncan, I had an illustrious career starring in more than thirty feature films. My acting literally saved Warner Brothers Studios from bankruptcy at the start of 1930,” spoke up the wolf-dog and moved along with his little Terrier friend.
“Hold on, can’t you guys help me out. Tell me what to do? At least tell me your names. I am Hatchu,” shouted the little Pug. “Nice to meet you Hatchu, I am Terry or Toto,” replied the little Terrier. “Journey to the Rainbow Bridge. When you find the tenth dog, you will get the answers to all your queries. Bye for now, seeker. I am Rin Tin Tin the German Shepherd,” said the mighty wolf-dog.
“Go to the Rainbow Bridge. Find the tenth dog. Do this, do that, what a bunch of rubbish. All I want to do is find my family. Why don’t any of these dogs understand,” spoke Hatchu softly to himself and moved on?
At that moment, as Hatchu walked away, sulking in his thoughts, he came across a mid-sized chubby and furred Chow Chow dog. The plumpy mutt swayed on a rocking chair with a pen and a pad in his hand, wearing a thick-rimmed round spectacle.
“Care to recline on this sofa for a while and speak with me weary traveller,” said the fat dog peering from above his spectacles. “Do you even know anything about listening to someone,” said the little pug and took a seat on the recliner.
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. For many years during the 1930s, I helped my master treat several patients suffering from mental problems,” spoke up the Chow Chow and began a long conversation. “What is the meaning of all this. I hate being here. I want my family,” angrily spoke up Hatchu.
“Everything happens for a reason, and good always comes out of everything at the very end. It is the way we look at things that makes all the difference. Have you not been assured that you would find all your answers at the end of the Rainbow Bridge? Haven’t you learnt anything from the great dogs you met? Canines who contributed to man’s development irrespective of facing many hardships carving out a name for themselves. Aren’t you thankful for being healed of the sickness that had taken away all the joys from your life,” rhetorically asked the canine shrink?
Hatchu sprang up from the recliner with newfound hope. “Thank you, enlightened one, for opening my eyes. I will take your leave now. I must reach the Rainbow Bridge. I have to find the tenth dog and get back to my family,” said Hatchu and continued on his journey towards the seven-coloured arc in the firmament. “What is your name wise one,” enquired Hatchu as he left. “I am Jofi, the psychoanalysis partner of my master Sigmund Freud,” replied the Chow Chow and continued swaying in his rocking chair.
Now Hatchu traversed through a beautiful orchard of Cherry Blossom trees. He had never known plants with such beauty, and in the middle of the grove on a high stone sat a majestic dog, the likes of such he had never before seen.
“Hello there, you, high up on the rock, can you help me find my family? You don’t seem to be moving much. Are you waiting for someone or something? Do you happen to know anything,” enquired Hatchu in a bit of a hurry?
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. I know all about waiting. Patience is one of the greatest virtues to possess. People all over the world remember me for my remarkable loyalty. Every day for nine years, from 1926 to 1935, I continuously waited for my owner Hidesaburō Ueno, outside a railway station, waiting for him to return from work like he did every day. Back then, I did not know that he had passed away at work and could never return to meet me again,” said the majestic canine smiling at the little pug.
“You are just two dogs away from your goal. Go ahead little one, find the tenth dog and complete your journey and find all your answers. Do you know that you were named after me? I am Hachiko from Shibuya, Japan,” spoke and smiled the white-furred Akita as it said goodbye to the travelling pug.
At the end of the Cherry Blossom orchard, Hatchu found himself very close to the rainbow bridge. Just when he was thinking about the next dog he would meet, he saw an elegant and white-furred blind female German Spitz walk towards him. “Hello there, young lady. I thought I would ask you to show me the way to meet my family, but I see that you are blind and can’t see. Sorry for your disability,” said Hatchu with a little bit of pity.
“Do not judge a dog by its fur, little one. I know you seek your momma, Boe, and Bigbro; come walk with me, and I will take you to the bottom of the Rainbow Bridge,” said the blind German Spitz.
Hatchu walked with the elegant lady. He was bewildered at how gently and perfectly she moved without stumbling irrespective of being blind. He realised that disabilities were not drawbacks but perhaps opportunities to heighten other senses from within.
Hatchu and the Spitz reached the bottom of the Rainbow Bridge. Now the little pug became very anxious. He had not yet met the tenth dog. How would he ever see his family? Amidst all this feeling of anxiety, suddenly, things started to clear up in his mind. It was as if the journey had matured him.
“It is me, isn’t it? I am the tenth dog, right? The journey was about finding myself, wasn’t it? I know who you are. You are Misty, my Bigbro’s first dog, who he got when he was five years old. You taught Bigbro to love dogs and lived for fourteen years. You had become blind during the last five years of your earthly life. I am blessed to meet you,” said Hatchu with tears in his eyes?
“You have a choice right now, little one. Every dog gets this magical opportunity when it crosses the Rainbow Bridge. If you look down from the edge at the middle of the bridge, you will see your family. If you decide to reunite with them, you just have to jump in. At that very moment, your soul will enter a newborn pup, who your family will adopt eventually. Or else, like me and many other dogs that you will find happily living on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, decide not to go back to your master, so that another dog gets to experience the love that you have received. I did not go back, and you found love in Bigbro’s family,” saying these words the white-furred German Spitz Misty vanished in the mist.
Hatchu climbed and stood at the centre of the bridge and looked down from the edge. He was happy to see Momma, Boe, and Bigbro continue with their lives. The little pug did not jump and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He thought, who knows the mystery of things; maybe someday he could come back to jump into Bigbros life from the Rainbow Bridge. For now, however, he had proved that one should never judge a dog by its fur and that a jealous little pug like him was capable of sharing. He was ready to let another pup enjoy the love that he had received.
About the story
This story is dedicated to our beloved boy, our loving Pug Dog Hatchu (25th July 2011 – 20th September 2019), to Misty my first dog, a female German Spitz (1985 – 1999), and to all dogs everywhere. No one can love you like a dog…
Copyright © 2021 TRISHIKH DASGUPTA
This work of fiction, written by Trishikh Dasgupta is the author’s sole intellectual property. Some characters, incidents, places, and facts may be real while some fictitious. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with Trishikh on the CONTACT page of this website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adventurer, philosopher, writer, painter, photographer, craftsman, innovator, or just a momentary speck in the universe flickering to leave behind a footprint on the sands of time... READ MORE