Copyright © 2013 - 2018 Lydian Press Terms and Conditions Privacy Statement Contact Us Submissions Barry Lowe

How can anyone resist those eyes?

Leon has a way with animals as well as a way to use them to help ease the suffering of those with long-term illness or injury. He’s loved by patients and nurses alike until, that is, he’s asked to drop in on reclusive old codger, Ralph Esseltine, who has a reputation of reducing health workers to tears. Instead of tears, Esseltine goads the placid Leon to anger by kicking the frisky puppy Leon has brought along as therapy. Expecting the worst, Leon submits his resignation only to discover that Esseltine  has requested he visit again. What sort of revenge does the old recluse have in mind? And what of Esseltine’s estranged grandson and his obnoxious boyfriend who turn up to count the family silver?  

How Much is That Doggie In The Window?


I knew of him by reputation although I don’t believe I had ever set eyes on him before that first weekend. He was as far outside my circle of friends and business dealings as I was his. I’m the town’s veterinarian and, from what I’d heard, it was as likely that Esseltine would have a pet of any description as that pigs might suddenly gain the ability to become airborne. To him, animals, like humans, had to pay their way. The only good thing to be said about furred, hoofed and feathered creatures was they were good on his table at meal time.

Having the emotional life of the chronically unappreciated, I spent my weekends at the local hospital cheering up long-stay and terminally ill patients. In case I’ve given you totally the wrong impression, I have no skills whatsoever as a stand-up comic, singer, magician, entertainer or player of a musical instrument. I’m rather shy around people. Oh, I don’t dislike them, it’s just I’m more comfortable around animals.

It was my original idea that I bring a few of the dogs from my shelter every weekend to help cheer up the patients. It’s amazing what the unconditional love of a small furry bundle yipping and frolicking around the wide expanse of lawn can do for the well-being of patients. And of nursing staff. I mainly brought puppies and kittens that had been abandoned on the front step to my office by anonymous people who had neither the heart nor the cash to care for them properly, or else the various animals delivered to me by welfare groups when they were discovered battered and injured and close to death. What can I say? I’m a soft touch.

Some of the new arrivals were too far gone to survive and those I disposed of as humanely as possible, always with a heavy heart at Man’s inhumanity to animals, and always with a tear or two no matter the sheer volume that passed through my surgery every week.

I was lucky that I was supported by Trish Nolan, the nurse-administrator who ran the hospital/nursing home with a steely professionalism when it came to dealing with doctors and anesthetists but which she leavened with an acute sense of humanity when dealing with the patients. That’s why she threw her support behind my ideas in the face of indifference or else outright hostility of some members of the Board who ran the hospital.

“They’ll come around, Leon,” she said when she relayed the provisional okay to my scheme. “They’re always conservative when it comes to something new. They’ll be your biggest fans when they see the efficacy of your idea.”

Indeed, most of them had in time. There were a few conservative elements that were hold-outs but I had little to fear from them as my experiment in animal therapy got results: a happier atmosphere and a vast improvement in the mental and emotional well-being of the patients, even among those whose condition was terminal.

Always careful to choose the most placid of animals because I knew they would be petted and prodded and sometimes handled a little more roughly than usual, albeit unintentionally, by youngsters with more enthusiasm than experience, or older patients with hands deformed by arthritis who mainly clasped one of the fur balls in their laps or against their breasts much too tightly. It was always sad when I had to collect the animals at the end of each Saturday or Sunday as the patients bid goodbye to their weekend companions.

Print ISBN 978-1-909934-63-4  Cover Price 9.99

eBook ISBN 978-1-909934-62-7  Cover Price: 2.99

Length: 152 pdf Pages / 29500 words

Gay, Drama, Romance

Heat rating: 2

In print from: