Karen Skinner
© Karen Skinner 2023
Crackers ‘Crackers has hearing loss,’ they said. ‘He’ll need careful training.’ He was a poor old dog, not wanted by the family when the old man died, but patient with the kids who treated him like a toy. They found him tied outside with Lego in his ear. All the staff loved him, but a previous infection meant he couldn’t hear. We saw him in his little pen, looking sad and lonely. We asked to meet him properly and threw balls across the floor. He watched them roll but didn’t play. I dropped to the floor and asked, ‘Do your ears hurt?’ He tilted his head as if asking a question. I used my hands remembering when I worked with special-needs children. Suddenly he came alive and barked with a shout that sounded like a firework. Then I asked ‘Do you understand signing?’ He wagged his tail and barked again. ‘I forgot,’ said the girl. ‘The old man was deaf.’ ‘Who’s a good boy?’ I asked. He already knew the answer. We have to have Crackers for Christmas.