THE STORY OF RAGS
Abernathy was a puppy when he wandered to the port in New Yorkshire City, on the Terrier planet. He was a small but active pup of almost four months and his coat was shiny with silver hairs that peeked out of his mottled coat of greys, browns, and tans. He wasn’t too long weaned when he started getting more adventurous with each day’s travels. His daily walks took him beyond the normal boundaries that his 11 brothers and sisters in the litter would dare, as he was always curious as to what was just around the corner.
His mother always warned them to stay close to the pack for protection and never stray too far from their den. But Abernathy was thinking of faraway places and adventures beyond the stars, with each ship he watched launch into space. He didn’t quite know what they were, or what they were doing, but he knew that they left the Terrier Planet, and that was good enough for him.
He watched the stars at night as the litter snuggled close and prepared for the long night’s sleep. He wondered what was up there as he watched the stars that sparkled against the dark fabric of the deep night. He used to think they were all the ships that had left New Yorkshire City just hanging above the planet. As he grew older, he heard people talking about this ship and that ship and he realized that they took people and cargo to planets far into that deep dark unknown to other galaxies with different suns, which were as different as the blades of grass in his back yard.
Then one day, he was talking to his sister Francesca while they were watching a ship depart the port, headed to one of the fantastic planets far past their own galaxy. He made the statement that someday, he would be on one of those ships, traveling amongst the planets and discovering new worlds and exploring all the amazing people among the stars.
How little did he know at that time just how prophetic his words would become?
The very next day, he was walking toward the port staring skyward as a big ship shuddered for a second after lifting off and then shot quickly away from New Yorkshire City, anxious to meet it destiny, when he heard an older person yelling, "Boy, you ready to begin your service?"
Looking up, he saw a huge black Labrador retriever staring at him. He looked around, "Who you calling boy, mister?" He barked back, once he saw there was no one else around.
"Calm down pipsqueak. I meant ye no disrespect. Merely asking if ye were ready for service? We are always looking for good help and you look nice and strong. Want a job?" the old retriever asked.
"Depends?" Replied Abernathy warily.
"Depends on what?" The retriever squinted one eye as he looked over the bold pup.
"How much you're paying?" Abernathy questioned.
The retriever laughed and came over and walked around the young pup sniffing, "The name's Pete, and I am the straw boss on the next ship leaving out. He nodded toward one of the biggest ships Abernathy had ever seen, "Named, "Millie" after one of the princesses of the future. Need a few more hands before we voyage and the pay is better than anything you will get here."
"Now that is one of the silliest things I have ever heard," Abernathy snapped. “How can it be named after a princess in the future? How does anyone know what will happen tomorrow?"
"Aye, but that is not for me to know," the lab responded, "but she will become one of the most famous ladies in history, or so the legends go. Any way you look sound enough, you have to pass your physical first, but I think you will do nicely. Go see the doc in the tent set up at the gangplank, get your physical completed and your intergalactic passport and you are ready to travel."
Not knowing what to say, his heart in his throat, Abernathy mechanically walked to the tent and pushed his muzzle shyly in through the flap.
"Don't dawdle boy, in you come. We ship out in less than an hour," said a sandy-blonde haired Cocker Spaniel with a white vest and glasses.
Abernathy approached cautiously and stood in front of the "Doc."
"I am Butch, but everyone calls me "DOC," because I tend to everyone on the voyage. Now stand still." He stated as he walked around behind Abernathy and stood there for a few minutes rattling some things on a metal table. Abernathy stood stiff legged, not knowing what to do. Suddenly he felt a stick in the back of his neck and he yelped, "What the heck was that!"
"All done," said Butch, see the quartermaster and receive your Intergalactic Passport and you are ready for service. He typed something on a computer on his desk. Then he fairly pushed Abernathy to another section of the tent that he had not seen before.
As soon as he went into the other room, two small female Yorkshire Terriers, half his size, walked up and one of them placed a collar with a small blue medallion around his neck as the other explained that this was his medal for being shot. "All in the line of duty”, the other said as they backed away.
His head was still trying to figure out what he had gotten himself into when an old Pekinese walked up and presented him with a small purple book, "Never, whatever you do, lose this or your collar. They are your identification and show that you are protected by the Intergalactic Federation and laws that govern the known universe, respected by all known civilizations."
With that said, the two small terriers once again walked up to him and escorted him to the gangplank and wished him safe journey.
And thus began Abernathy's journey into service.
Too be continued next week…