The Travels of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

By Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 11

The story so far: Zoe, a little, blind lhasa apso, was left at the Pike County shelter when her owner lost his job and had to move in with his wife’s mother, who’s allergic to dogs. He left her at the shelter in the middle of the night, and Kaja, a big red dog, came and took her away. They have made their way through the woods, and crossed the Delaware on a rickety bridge. In Barryville, at the very edge of the river, Samantha and Ashton Morrone are building a fort that’s also a raft. The dogs and the kids have just seen each other.

At the sink in the kitchen of their house/hotel in Barryville, Angie Morrone looks out the back window and sees Samantha gesturing at something in the bushes. Angie can just see something red there, the color of a fox. Sam would know better than to approach a fox, Angie thinks. She would, wouldn’t she?

Angie goes out onto the deck. Over the sound of the river, she hears the kids now, and they’re calling, “Come here, come here!” As she watches, the red animal edges out of the bushes, and Angie sees that it’s the color of a fox, but bigger. It’s a dog, a big red dog, and it looks dirty but friendly. She watches as Samantha holds out her hand, palm down, and lets the big dog sniff her.

Then she watches as Sam opens a box in the fort she and Ashton have been building, and pulls something out. It looks like a cookie or a cracker. Sam offers it to the dog, who takes it, gingerly.
Then Angie sees the second dog come out of the bushes. This one sort of bumps into the big dog, and then into Samantha, and even from here, Angie can tell that this one has some vision issues.

Angie walks down the steps of the deck, and down the bank toward the kids and the dogs. Samantha starts in, right away.

“Mom, can we keep them, can we keep them, please? Please? Please? I’ll wash the dishes for the rest of my life. Please?”

Ashton starts in pleading, too.

“Sam, introduce me,” Angie says.

“This is Foxy,” Sam tells her, pointing to Kaja, “and this is Peanut,” she says, patting Zoe. Angie sees the cataracts in Zoe’s eyes then. “Peanut doesn’t see too well,” Samantha says.

Angie would love for the kids to have a dog. One dog. She’d really love it if they had a big dog. She grew up with big dogs, big strong dogs who could run and play all day with them. She’s missed dogs in her life here in Barryville. But Pete isn’t nuts about dogs, and they’re running a hotel here, and that means you don’t always get to do whatever you want in your home. She’ll have to talk to Pete about it when he gets back. She finds she’s already working on how to present it so he’ll say yes.

It’s been years since Kaja has been inside a house, but as soon as she’s inside, she remembers. She smells food and cooking, and her mouth begins watering. It’s been so long since she’s eaten anything but small animals and garbage, but the woman is cooking meat, and it smells so good, she can hardly stand it.

There are the smells of people, too, these people and a man, and other people, lots of them, but their smells are lighter, less true. The woman runs water into a bowl, and Kaja drinks then, savoring this, clear, clean taste, cool from a tap. She drinks deeply, and then settles to the floor, under a table, where she can see everything, but stay out of the way, too. She watches as the kids fuss with Zoe, trying to figure out just what she can see.

In a moment, Kaja is asleep. But when the door opens and closes, and a loud man’s voice hollers, “I’m home!” she wakes up.

The mother goes to the hallway, and there is soft talking. Then the man’s voice rises, and the kids, who have been brushing Zoe with an old hairbrush, look at each other.

“No,” he says. “No dogs. This is a hotel we’re running here. We’ll have the health department all over us, Angie.” The kids keep looking at each other. Sam bites her lip.

“Tonight,” Pete says. “They can stay here tonight, but that’s it. Tomorrow they go.”

Carrie can be reached at


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