Recycling – Cath Barton

I never liked those garden seats you bought. Anyway they’re rusted now. They clank against other people’s junk as I heave them into the recycling bin.

When I turn away there’s a black Labrador at my feet, looking up at me expectantly.

“No way, old son, oh no,” I say, examining his collar. No tag. I’m laughing, I don’t know why. What kind of bastard abandons a defenceless beast at a municipal tip?

As I drive away I see the dog in my rear view mirror, sitting by the bins, watching me go.

Back home I load the car again, my thoughts spooling. Thoughts of, maybe, getting another dog. A companion. I shake myself and the thoughts scatter, like water drops off the back of a dog after a dip in the river. This won’t do. I’m trying to clear stuff out of my life, leave myself free.

There’s a post-lunch queue of cars at the tip now. I shut my window against the ammonia smell of used cat litter, watch as a couple struggle lifting what looks like a perfectly good table. As the wood splinters I hear him snarl at her. At least there’s no sign of the Labrador.

Finally I get to the head of the line. As the detritus of five years of wasted love crashes into the metal bin I feel a kind of emptying of myself. All done apart from a couple of old radios. There’s a hut in the yard where there’s usually someone to ask about where to put electrical stuff. Feeling the sun on my neck on my way over there, I think about looking on-line for places where it shines more reliably.

There’s no one in the hut. Leaving the radios by the door, I stroll back to the car and slam the boot shut without looking inside.

“Uh oh! And where did you spring from old son?” I say, home again and opening the boot to fetch out my empty bags, thinking about sitting in my sweet-scented garden with a cool glass of wine. The black Labrador is lying there gazing at me and my heart turns over at his panting.

When he’s had his drink I find an old tie to use as a lead and take him to the vets. He has no chip.

“If he isn’t claimed within 48 hours we’ll have to send him to the dog pound,” says the receptionist. “Unless you…”

“No,” I say. “No, no, I can’t.”

But he’s sitting there, my black Labrador, looking at me. You don’t choose your loves. We both deserve a second chance.


Image via Pixabay

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