She had finally gotten home. Long day, glad it is over. Home was her safe haven and she had finally made it there. Going inside, she was greeted with the joyous abandon of her furry friends. Three dogs of her own, several that belonged to the family, and quite a few cats. The pair of finches and the parakeet set up a racket, too, startled at all of the noise.

"Oh, you guys! I'm so glad to see you, too," she cried, sitting down on the floor so that they could mob her. Dog tails wagging, dog tongues trying to lick her face, cats meowing and purring and rubbing up against her. Unconditional love at its finest.

"Okay, okay, time to give you guys some dinner, huh,", she said, finally extracting herself from the meelee. "Let's see what we got today. Looks like kibble for the dogs. Yeah, I know, but you guys gotta sit over there while I mix up the bowls. Hey, look, canned food, too. How exciting! Yeah, you're excited, aren't you. Yes, you're good mutts. Come and get it!" as the last bowl is put down. It had taken all the self control they had, and quite a few barks of encouragement, but the dogs let her get the bowls down before they snarfed up the food in their greedy doggy fahion.

The cats were next. A long tray with a can of food spread out for all of them to share, then down to the bedroom to fill up the kibble bowl. It was up on a stand so the dogs wouldn't get it. A few of the cats went with her, trying to trip her on the way. It was a long standing game that they played.

She made her way back to the kitchen; the dogs were licking their bowls. "Okay, who needs to go potty? Anyone want to go outside?" over a chorous of barks and meows. A mad scramble for the door ensued, but she got them all out. The cats went, too, but they stayed close to her outside. The dogs took off in a pack, the small ones churning their legs madly to keep up with the big ones and the Sheltie bringing up the rear, making sure no one got left behind. The brown dog was at the lead, poetry in motion when he ran. She didn't know who his parents were, but gosh, he ran like water in a smooth streambed. The rat terrier was right at his heels, barking madly and trying to overtake him. She was fiesty. The girl called out to get their attention, and threw a ball their way. The chase was on to get it and bring it back to her. The cats had taken up defensive positions around her, sitting on her shoulder, twining around her feet, peering out from behind a leg to swat at the dogs as they charged up with the ball. It was a grand time.

Back inside, the yard and neighborhood secure, it was time to play with the cats. The dogs had assumed their positions around the house- on the back of the sofa, on a pillow next to the girl, on the bed, sprawled out asleep in front of the door, on the floor at the end of the sofa. The cats knew that this was their special time. The catnip toys were brought out, wooden spools on strings for them to chase, balled up pieces of paper to "kill". Cats being cats, they really did like to rend and tear.

Through it all, the girl was having an absolutely great time. Laughing until she was crying, wrestling with the dogs outside, mock fighting with the cats. By the end, they were all one happy, worn out pile. The birds had been watching it all from the curtain rod. When they saw that everyone was worn out, they came down to give their hellos to the girl. They knew that she loved them, too, and they had a really good bird life. The best seed available, cages a bit too big for them, free access to the bird bath. They lived quite a few years longer than they should have.

Unconditional love is a wonderful thing.



The new owners of the house were out working in the backyard. The backyard neighbor came over to introduce himself.

"Hi, I'm Bill. I see you bought the house."

Yes, hi. I'm Mark and this is Sue. Have you lived here long?"

Yep, me and the missus moved here about 50 years ago. Before your house was built, as a matter of fact. There have been a lot of different people living there."

Really. We have been wondering if there was a story about this place. We've been hearing things."

"Really? What kind of things?"

Oh, sometimes we think we hear laughing and some strange animal sounds. We figured it was just someone outside, except we hear them at odd hours sometimes."

Oh, well there is a story about the previous owner. Such a sad person."


"Yeah, she fell asleep one night and her furnace malfunctioned. Her and her cat died in the bed. We found them a few days later. She hadn't been out, which wasn't unusual since her dog died, but we got concerned when she didn't open her curtains. She always opened the curtains so the cat could get some sunshine."

"Wow, the realtor didn't tell us that. Do you know which bedroom that was?"

"It was this back bedroom."

"And you said she had dogs?"

"Yeah. She always felt like her pets were the only people that really loved her. She sure loved them, and was really broken up when they died. She kept their ashes. Her folks sprinkled them back here."

"I wonder, naw, it's too far fetched. Couldn't be."


"What happened to her? Her body."

"Oh, her folks had her cremated. Said that's what she wanted."

"Did they sprinkle her back here, too?"

"They might have. They said she was happier here than she had been anywhere else. Why?"

"Do you suppose that it's her that we hear? That she's still here, where she was happy, playing with her pets?"

"Ya know, it could be."

The girl just smiled, and called up her dogs for their dinner.


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