One day a dog finds a puppy. It's the start of a beautiful friendship.
The dog poked around the wealth of rubbish bins in the alleyway.
It was demeaning for a canine of his pedigree to rummage for scraps among the refuse of human consumption, but he was a big animal and his grumbling stomach demanded to be filled.
He scented the aroma of meat, it wasn't fresh but it was edible. He straightened up on his hind legs and with his front paws, hooked onto the edge of the bin.
A bag of what was probably past-the-date hamburger meat lay near the top. Luckily enough, it was just in reach of his muzzle.
Stretching his neck to the limit, he gripped the plastic with his teeth and pulled until with a thump, it fell to the ground.
Dragging his find into the shadows, he was about to delve into the meat when he heard a squeaky sound coming from further down the murky alleyway.
His ears peaking, the dark-coated dog listened attentively, but the noise had stopped. He gave a grunt and got back to filling his stomach.
The meat wasn't too bad. Sometimes the humans threw away stuff that was perfectly edible.
The dog had plenty of experience of humans.
He'd been the pampered pet of a wealthy family until he'd gotten tired of being a toy for the spoiled children who ran rampage throughout the huge mansion, while the nannies their rich, busy parents had entrusted the kids to, looked on uninterested.
One day, when the kids from hell had dressed him up as a clown, he decided he'd had enough. He'd hovered at the gates of the estate until they'd opened for a car to enter, then slipped out, cool as you please.
Life hadn't been easy though. He himself had been spoiled in a way, used to the best a dog could desire, but he had no regrets. He might be leaner, shiver from the cold on a winter's night, but he was free to wander where he wished, belonging only to himself.
He'd eaten his way through half of the burgers when he heard the sound once again. This time it seemed like a muted cry.
The dog, whose given name was Dean, turned and made his way further along the back alley.
There was no light there to illuminate the area, but his acute hearing told him something was alive and breathing. He nosed forward carefully. Humans could be evil at times. There were those who thought torturing an animal was 'fun'.
Finally he saw the cause of the sound. He could barely make it out in the darkness, but there was a small animal of some kind curled up in a dark corner.
"Hey," Dean said. "You need a hand?"
The animal gave a piteous woof. "So, a dog then," Dean mused, though now that he could see it better, it wasn't much larger than a household cat.
Making his way over, Dean looked down at the ball of fur. It was trembling, though he didn't know if it was from fear or because of the chill of the cold, night air.
"Don't be afraid. I'm not gonna hurt you," Dean said. "What's wrong? Maybe I can help."
Part of the tiny dog's body unfurled and Dean found himself looking at the cutest puppy he'd ever set eyes on, its fur-coated face looking up at him in fear.
"Hey buddy," Dean said lowering his gruff tone. "It's okay. Don't be scared. You got a home? Are you lost? I can take you back to your owner."
The collar and tag around the puppy's neck told Dean that this was no stray.
Like himself it was probably some aristocratic puppy bought for a family, only to have somehow gotten lost.
"Leg hurts," the puppy whined.
"You gonna let me take a look?" Dean asked.
With a low snuffle the puppy gave his assent, and the bigger dog ran his tongue over the trembling hind-quarters of the pup, finding a huge tender lump on the left back leg.
The puppy gave a low moan as Dean's inquisitive tongue pressed lightly down on the protuberance, searching for a break, or something worse.
"It's just a strain," he sentenced pulling back. "It's not broken or anything. Just rest it up and you'll be fine in a day or two."
"Thanks," the puppy sniffed.
"You hungry, bud?"
The pup nodded.
"I'll be right back with some food. You got a name?"
"It's Sam," the pup replied.
Dean gave a wide doggy smile. "It suits you down to the ground, Sammy."
"Sam," the pup corrected, wrinkling its tiny snout, and so making the bigger dog's smile grow even wider.
A few minutes later, the pup was wolfing down on the raw burger meat, while Dean looked on amazed. "You sure can eat for a kid so small."
"That's because I'm an Irish Setter. I'm gonna grow big and tall," the puppy chattered on, seemingly recovered from his fright.
"That right?" Dean commented, cocking his head. "I find that difficult to believe seeing you now. Listen, there's gonna be some family looking for their pet. I can go get a human and bring him back here. The police will take you home."
"Uh-uh, I'm never going back. The kid there likes to hurt things, me included," the puppy said, his tiny long ears shaking vigorously.
He looked up at the Alsatian. "Can I stay with you?" he asked, his eyes wide and pleading.
Dean was taken aback by the power of the gaze. "I'm kind of a lone wolf, " he replied cautiously. "I can barely look out for myself."
"Please," the pup insisted. "I don't know why but I think we'd be good for each other."
The kid might be little, Dean mused, but he already had a shrewd head on his shoulders, not to mention a killer gaze that could fell an elephant!
"Well, okaaay. We'll see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, we can think of another way."
"Thank you, dude. What's your name? I never even asked," the puppy said.
"It's Dean. My owner was a big fan of some old actor called James Dean, so I got burdened with his name."
"I think it suits you!" the puppy huffed, his snout opening in a huge yawn.
Dean sighed. It seemed for better or worse, he was no longer alone.
"You still cold, Sammy?"
"Uh-huh," the pup squeaked with a full-body shiver.
Dean wound himself around the little guy who snuggled in close. "Thanks Dean," Sam managed to say before his eyes closed and his breathing evened out.
Dean used his tongue to paste down some of the puppy's rebel hairs which were tickling his nose, then settled in to sleep beside his new found friend.
Whatever tomorrow might bring, Dean knew his life on the road had just grown far more interesting.