Rita woke up late the next morning, she'd slept well as she'd been exhausted by the stress of the night before. She looked around with droopy, tired eyes, taking a moment to remember where she was. It occurred to Rita that she might have wandered a little too far away from her old home and she wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten there. Breathing deeply, she got to her feet and readied herself for the new day and her new life.
Coming out nervously from behind the dumpster, Rita looked out into the streets and set out. She headed back to her old home to wait for her friends to meet her. The thought of seeing Dodger again cheered Rita up greatly and she found herself smiling and her tail wagging as she trotted in what she figured was the right direction.
She kept going for a couple of hours, getting confused and frustrated as nothing looked at all familiar. Everything had looked so different last night in the dark, when Rita was tired and upset. It was certainly not easy to find her way amongst all the hustle and bustle of the humans all around her. She ran out onto the road, onto the top of a stationary car for a better view of her surroundings. With a rush of excitement she realized that she was getting close, some of the buildings looked familiar.
As Rita approached her old home, she felt a little foolish. It really was not so far away from where she had slept and could've been reached easily in a quarter of an hour if she hadn't gotten so lost and confused. Rita sat down and waited for Dodger and Einstein to come and get her.
By mid-afternoon, Rita was starting to wonder if her friends had come for her while she was away and missed her. Just then, Dodger finally made an appearance from around the corner.
"Dodgie!" she called, bounding over to him and greeting him with a very enthusiastic hug and a vigorously wagging tail.
Dodger was a little taken aback by Rita's slightly over the top welcome but gave her a friendly nuzzle that was probably closer to a head-butt. "Hey Rita, where've ya been? I came 'round earlier and no one was home."
Rita looked away sadly. "They're gone Dodger, they all left yesterday without me. I'm sorry, I wandered away 'cause I was upset and got a bit lost coming back." She looked back around at Dodger and smiled. "I'm so happy to see you."
Dodger felt a little awkward. "Are you OK?" he asked.
"Yeah, I guess so. I can't wait to go home with you guys."
"You wanna go now? Einstein's already back with there with Fagin."
Rita's eyes lit up. "Yes, please!"She replied enthusiastically, and trotted after Dodger who was thrilled to be bringing a girl home.
As the two puppies reached the barge, Rita was suddenly very nervous. Sure, Fagin had liked her before, but that didn't mean he'd be happy to let her stay and live with them.
Dodger sensed Rita's nervousness. "Don't worry Rit, it's gonna be fine. We'd better get that collar off, though or Fagin might try and take you back." He unbuckled her collar with his teeth.
Rita breathed deeply and walked close to Dodger, hoping to pick up some of his easy confidence. She followed him closely down the stairs into the boat, taking in the scent of her new surroundings as she went.
"Oh Dodger you've got Rita with you!" Einstein bounded cheerfully up to the pups and in his joyous 'hello' pounce he knocked them both down the remainder of the stairs.
"She's here for good Einy!" Dodger exclaimed and then added, "Bringing girls home already, pretty impressive, huh?"
Einstein was about to say hello to Rita properly, when Fagin approached and knelt down to the dogs. "What're you doing here?" he asked, picking Rita up and scratching her behind the ears. "Where's your collar girl?"
Rita leaned her neck upwards and licked Fagin's face.
"Don't go bringing too many friends home with you Dodger!" he said as the puppy had joined the two of them and was looking up expectantly at his master. "I think Rita can stay though."
The three dogs barked happily and clambered over their master and licked his face. Rita felt a weight lifted from her chest as she knew that she had a loving family.
That night, Einstein slept on Fagin's lap like a hugely oversized lapdog. Dodger and Rita had stayed up quite late chatting and playing together, trying to be as quiet as possible despite their excitement.
Soon enough, Rita could barely keep her eyes open. She was drawn to a large red case.
"You want somewhere to sleep Rita?" Fagin asked and modified the case so it was curtained and gave her some privacy; she was the only girl after all. He then manoeuvred himself back into his chair, moving the dopey-eyed and very heavy Einstein who was only slightly awake. "Goodnight guys." He called to his three dogs.
Rita walked up to Dodger's bed and gave him a quick hug. "Thanks for everything Dodge." She said softly.
"I'd told you I'd fix it up. I'm good huh?" Dodger said with a cocky grin, causing Rita laugh at him quietly.
"Goodnight." She said, smiling, as she walked over curled up in her new bed. In less than a minute she fell asleep for the first time in her new home.