Since FC asked for some interaction, here goes... (If you're curious, a scene of her saying her morning hellos to the dogs will come between my last post and this one)
I spun the lock and the metal clicked into place. Before I could even take my hand off the knob, a woman with a black dog in her arms pushed through. She just about knocked me down. She would've if I hadn't been standing with my knees slightly bent, a pose I usually rest in, having been toppled over by one too many dogs in my time.
Looking at the two, I couldn't tell who looked more ragged. The dog--a lab/pitbull mix, I'd guess--was 40 pounds too light, and his fur looked like it had gotten a bad perm. I was sure under it I'd find bruises and cuts. Just as heartbreaking was the look of the woman carrying the mutt. She had bags under her eyes the size of Texas, and she was wearing a man's plaid pajamas, at least 3 sizes too big. Her hair looked worse than the dog's. And one of them smelled. Not the perfume of regular, haggard dog that I had grown to love. This smell was more sour than that, and it made me crinkle my nose, even though I knew I shouldn't.
"Can I help you?" I said, fighting back the urge to wave my hand in front of my nose.
"I'm here to drop off this dog." The woman held out her arms as if I'd just take the dog while we stood in the hallway. I could see that, like the dog, her arms were also too skinny. Never a problem I'd had myself, and seeing the way her wrist bones stuck out of her flesh, for the first time I was grateful for my padding.
"I could've guessed that. Follow me." I turned around before she could foist the dog upon me. That thing looked scared, and mighty comfy in her arms.
I went behind the desk to get some paper work, and when I looked up, the woman was just staring at me, clutching the dog. I had known this was trouble.
"So..." I said, reading over the surrender form. As if I didn't have the whole thing memorized by now. I stood behind the counter, keeping my distance from the troubled pair.
"Why are you surrendering the animal?"
The woman looked down at the dog, meeting his eyes for the first time that I saw, and her thin, drawn face looked even sadder.