I don’t really remember life without them. I remember feeling hungry and getting caught in the rain. I still hate thunderstorms, and I know they get mad at me when it’s storming. I can’t relax. I whimper. I try to find someplace to hide, but there isn’t any place to go. Sometimes, they get out of bed and sit with me, patting me, whispering calmly. I know I am like their baby and they want me to feel safe.
I have gotten better about it, feeling safe with them. Recently, when it has rained, I have felt Cheryl tense, waiting for me to scare and get agitated. As long as it is not thunderering or lightening, I can stay calm. To reassure her, I scoot closer to her legs, and I sigh. When she realizes the rain is not upsetting me, I can feel the tension leave her body. She stretches an arm and pats my leg. Sometimes, we fall asleep like this, with her hand on my leg.
This past weekend, my family went on vacation, and so did I. I got to go to my friend Oscar’s house. It is a much bigger house than our house, so I like to explore. Oscar has a big wooded backyard. I love to roam around and smell nature. I know raccoons lurk in the shadows, but I have not seen any yet. When I do, I am going to try to catch one. Okay, maybe I am just talk a big game.
I know to be on my best behavior when I am a guest in someone else’s house, and I really like Amy, so I don’t want to make her mad. She talks to me the way Cheryl does, and I follow her around the house to listen to what she has to say. We go from room to room. She cooks. She straightens up. She makes the kids practice the piano. She tells me about how she and Cheryl used to spend so much time together when they were younger. I can sense that she misses seeing Cheryl more regularly, but it is the way lifeplays out for humans: they get older; they marry; they have children. At least humans have good memories they can rely on. I can sense that Amy enjoys reminiscing with me, even if I don’t respond. I wag my tail to let her know I am listening. I like to listen to Amy because she has an inner beauty I cannot quite explain, but I can smell it. I know she is a good mom and friend because of the way she smells. She is my friend, too.
On Monday, my family came to pick me up. I cannot lie, I was super excited. I don’t have a good concept of time. When Tom left me on Saturday he said, “I’ll see you in two days, Boy.” He patted my head, and I knew what he meant. Yet, I lost track of time. It’s hard to remember how many nights pass because sometimes I sleep during the day. When I wake, I can’t remember if I am waking from day sleep or night sleep. Time melds together and I just stay confident they will come for me. They always do.
When they showed at Amy’s back door, I barked. I actually barked
. I am not really a barker; it seems excessive to me. Dogs who bark too much are annoying. What are they barking about? It reminds me of crying children. Just make it stop! Yet, the only way I could make them know I was here and make sure they knew I saw them was to bark. These people mean the world to me.
When Amy opened the door, I ran to Tom. I could see in his eyes that he missed me. I missed him, too. He crouched down to pet me and I licked him a whole bunch of times, which is kind of a big deal. I am not a kisser. I know many dogs lick and lick and lick and slobber all over humans. That’s not my style. If I give a lick, it means something. It is a kiss of compassion, a lick of love. After Tom stood up, I ran to Cheryl and kissed her too. These are my people.
Once we got home, I relaxed and waited. Cheryl was busy with laundry; Tom ran to the grocery store. I knew sooner or later they would want to relax so we could catch up. After a few hours, Tom settled in on the rocker in the basement to watch the Daytona 500. I lay down next to him. He rubbed my neck. As nice as it felt, I was waiting– waiting for Cheryl. She was preoccupied with the girls. Lizzie needed a bath. Maggie needed a bath. She did some dishes and prepared for work.
Around 8:00 I listened to her tell Tom she was going to watch television in our bedroom. “Yes!” I was ready to climb into bed and repose. She started to climb the steps and I bypassed her. I beat her to our bedroom, and I jumped on the bed. She got into her pajamas, and she lay down. I nestled in next to her. She pulled her face close to mine and kissed my head. She rubbed my neck. So sincerely she said, “I missed you, Boy. I love you so much.” She rubbed my belly a bit longer and then turned on the T.V.
I watched her move the pillows and blankets around so that she could get comfortable. Once she was still, I laid my head on her leg. It is not the most agreeable position for me, but I didn’t care. For me, this is the one way I can tell her I love her. I ease into her side, rest my head, and I let out a big contented sigh.