The Old Wooden Clock on the Wall
It was just an Old Wooden Clock on the wall. It wasn’t new by any
means and its wooden octagonal shape had no distinguishing features
about it. It had a white face and black numbers with a brass pendulum
that swung below. It was just an Old Wooden Clock. Found among the
many donations to the Shelter, it had been left sitting in a box until
one of the volunteers had hung it over the top of the doors on the south
wall. To the humans who worked at the Shelter, it was just a clock, but
to the cats and dogs of Hope Animal Shelter, the Old Wooden Clock on the
wall was magic.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
The hands on the Old Wooden Clock on the wall read 11:56.
Aided by the light streaming through a window from an outside street
lamp, 38 and a half sets of eyes (Max, the portly long haired cat had
only one eye) anxiously watched the Old Wooden Clock on the wall. Among
those were eyes that belonged to a big cat sitting patiently atop a worn
scratching post in the middle of the room. His disheveled coat of
charcoal gray only added to his majestic stature and his large yellow
eyes seemed to have an unnatural power over those who dared gaze into
them. Yawning, he slowly stretched each limb and lazily inspected the
razor sharp claws on his right front paw. Although his outward
appearance showed little interest in the time, inside Prince Homer was
as excited as a little kitten.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
A low whimper sounded from the dimly lit room, prompting several woofs
and meows from the multitude of kittens, cats, pups and dogs that
surrounded Homer’s pedestal.
“SILENCE!” the big cat roared.
Immediately the room fell quiet as Prince Homer’s commands were always
obeyed for he ruled the Shelter. Even the dogs listened when Homer
“Take it easy, Homer,” woofed the big red dog sitting next to the
scratching post. “They’re just excited, that’s all.”
“I know,” Homer meowed softly to River, his Sergeant at Arms.
“But you know what happened the last time you and the dogs became
“Yes, I do,” River woofed. “And in defense of the dogs, that
ferret had no business running loose.”
“Agreed,” Homer nodded. “That creature definitely had issues.”
He hesitated momentarily. “And very sharp teeth.”
River crinkled her nose and shuttered at the mention of those teeth.
She was a boxer-mix whose education came from the streets and her
beautiful red face was marred by scars that spoke of the hardships of
life before the Shelter. And as Prince Homer’s Second in Command, the
unlikely pair kept harmony and peace between the two species…and the
occasional ferret. It was trying at times, as River herself had to
control her own natural instincts when it came to cats. But she, being
a highly intelligent canine, knew that for many of them, Hope Animal
Shelter was their last resort and fighting had no place here. Oh, there
were skirmishes and spats of course, but at the end of the day,
friendships were healed and order was restored.
And as night fell at the Shelter something quite remarkable happened
here, for this was no ordinary animal shelter. Every night when the Old
Wooden Clock on the wall chimed twelve, something extraordinary would
take place. The coming of midnight at the Shelter brought with it the
hopes and dreams of all of the cats and dogs who called this special
place home. For they knew, when the Old Wooden Clock on the wall chimed
twelve, tomorrow would become today, and today someone would be going to
their Forever Home.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
In the center of the sea of cats and dogs sat a pup that squirmed
nervously as he stared, along with the others, at the Old Wooden Clock
on the wall. At the age of one and a half years, Marlowe, the Red Pit
Bull Pup, was a handsome young dog. And like all pups his age, sitting
still for any amount of time was very difficult, but he was determined
to behave because this night was special. For when the Old Wooden Clock
on the wall chimed twelve, tomorrow would become today and today was the
day that his best friend in the whole world, Jasper, the Cross-eyed
Orange Tabby, would be leaving the Shelter for his Forever Home.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
The Westminster chimes softly echoed throughout the room as woofs and
meows filled the air and the celebration began. Soon the entire room
was filled with singing.
“He is a jolly good kitty, he is a jolly good kitty, he is a jolly
good kitty, we hate to say goodbye.”
More clamor arose as everydog and everycat in the room crowded around
Jasper, smothering him with kisses and nips.
“Woo! Woo! Jas,” Patty, a beautiful black and tan shepherd woofed.
“You’re the cat!”
“Congrats, Jas! We hate to see you go,” Thunder barked with a deep
manly bark. He was a big brown and white mutt with four white socks on
each of his four huge paws.
“Sure gonna miss you, pup,” Jasper meowed as he stood on his hind
legs and nipped at Marlowe’s left ear.
“Thanks, Jas, I’m gonna miss you too,” Marlowe softly woofed. He
and Jasper had become best friends during their time at the Shelter.
Their friendship had gotten off to a rocky start as their initial
introduction resulted in Jasper clinging for dear life, holding on to
the blinds that covered the front window, as the rambunctious red pit
bull pup howled below.
Marlowe blinked quickly as he looked down at Jasper. Staring into those
cross-eyes always made his head ache, but he tried hard not to hurt
Jasper’s feelings, so he just soaked the cat’s orange head with a
sloppy swipe of his wet tongue.
“Yuck!” Jasper gasped as he shook off the doggie drool. “I
won’t miss that.”
Chapter 2: Pizza Bones
As with every celebration at the Shelter, River always commanded the
larger dogs to forage the building for treats. Nothing was off limits
and soon cat and dog treats were strewn about with everycat and everydog
gorging themselves on biscuits and crackers.
“River, look!” Thunder woofed through clenched teeth, dropping a
pizza box in front of the big red dog. “There’s another one in the
River nodded to Patty who dashed off and quickly returned with the
second box. River skillfully opened the first box with her nose
revealing leftover pizza crusts inside.
“Woo! Woo!” she called out excitedly. “Look here, kittens and
pups, pizza bones and lots of em.”
It took both Patty and Thunder to open up the second box as they
weren’t as talented as River when it came to such things. The box
contained several slices of pepperoni pizza and Thunder immediately
snatched up a slice only to be scolded by River.
“It’s Jasper’s night,” she chided gently. “He gets the first
“Sorry,” Thunder woofed as he hung his head for a moment, dropping
the slice of pizza back into the box. Two strands of drool slowly
streamed from his mouth down to the floor as he watched the orange tabby
daintily nibbling on a piece of pepperoni.
“Make sure Marlowe gets a good piece,” Jasper meowed in between
bites. He always tried to look out for his best friend.
“Marlowe!” River barked, looking around for the pup. “Get over
here. We’ve got pizza!”
Marlowe’s big red head popped up from the middle of a swarm of kittens
that were crawling all over him as he lay inside a black, metal-framed
kennel. A tiny calico kitten named Stella was lying on top of his head,
nipping at his right ear.
“Pizza?” he barked. “You said pizza?”
In an instant Marlowe shook off the kittens, with the exception of
Stella, who clung desperately to the ear she had been chewing on as the
hungry dog bounded through the kennel door. He jumped over a small black
and white pooch named Lindsay and landed in front of the pizza boxes. As
he came to a sudden stop, Stella went flying through the air and into
Prince Homer, who was sitting on a chair nibbling on a fish-shaped
“Oops!” Marlowe whimpered and his eyes widened as he immediately sat
down, looking around the room at anything to avoid Prince Homer’s
“Good one, Marlowe,” softly woofed Patty as she and Thunder smacked
paws. The two didn’t hate Prince Homer, but they did enjoy it when
something annoyed the big cat. Homer hissed at Marlowe and then jumped
onto his pedestal with the cracker still in his mouth. River only shook
her head and laughed.
“You sure do make things exciting around here, boy,” she woofed as
she lovingly licked Marlowe’s red nose. She wasn’t the type of dog
to show a lot of affection, but she had a soft spot for the young pup.
“We’re gonna miss you when it’s your turn to go to your Forever
At the mention of his Forever Home, Marlowe dropped the slice of pizza
he was eating and lowered his head.
“I’ll never find my Forever Home,” he woofed sadly. “They always
bring me back.”
The entire room fell silent. Marlowe had been returned to the Shelter
several times before. His first human named Vic was mean spirited and
tried to force the young dog to fight others of his kind. But Marlowe
was not a fighter and ran away, finding refuge at the Shelter. Because
of that, the young pup was submissive and the humans that took him home
were convinced he would never make a good Protector, for they said he
was too afraid and skittish. This led many at the Shelter to believe he
would never find his Forever Home.
River glanced up at Homer who had finished his cracker and was sitting
on his pedestal licking his front paws. The big cat stared at Marlowe
for several long moments before speaking.
“Marlowe, why do the humans bring you back?” Homer meowed, looking
down at the forlorn pup.
Marlowe stared at the tiled floor, his thin tail drooping behind him.
“They said I’m a coward and I’ll never be a good Protector. All
because of that time,” he woofed softly. “The time the human tried
to make me fight other dogs. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t so I ran
away and came here.”
“Dumb humans,” Patty growled. “What do they know?”
“I’ll tell you what they know,” Jasper meowed angrily as he
affectionately rubbed against Marlowe. “Nothing! Humans don’t know
Woofs and meows sounded from the crowd that had gathered to try and
cheer up the young pup.
“That’s right! Humans are dumb! Down with humans!” several cats
and dogs shouted out.
“Yeah,” growled Thunder with his deep manly growl. “Dominant
species, my tail!”
“SILENCE!” Prince Homer meowed so ferociously that his entire body
shook and he nearly fell off of his pedestal. “Regardless of what we
may think of humans, we still depend on them. Remember that when it’s
The unruly crowd grew quiet for they knew that Prince Homer was right.
As angry as the cats and dogs were with some humans, they knew that the
volunteers at the Shelter were good humans, who tried hard to find
Forever Homes for them all.
“Hmm,” Prince Homer said to River. “I think that Marlowe needs
training in the ways of a Protector. What do you think?”
“That is an excellent idea,” River woofed in agreement. “We should
start right now.”
“Really?” Marlowe woofed, raising his head as his drooping tail
began to pick up just a bit. “Woo! Woo!”
He quickly swallowed the slice of pizza and turned three complete
circles before jumping up to give Prince Homer a wet, sloppy kiss. As
Marlowe’s paws hit the pedestal, Homer again became airborne and
landed in a very undignified position in a litter box located next to a
long wooden table. The big cat quickly scrambled out of the litter pan,
shook himself off and hissed in Marlowe’s direction. Patty and Thunder
once again smacked paws and woofed under their breath in amusement at
Marlowe immediately hung his head.
“See,” he woofed sadly. “Not only am I a coward, I don’t even
know how to behave. They’ll always bring me back.”
“They will never again bring you back, Marlowe,” a gentle voice
sounded from a dark corner of the Shelter.
Excerpted from "Midnight at the Shelter of Hope" by Teresa Campbell. Copyright © 2014 by Teresa Campbell. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.