I am feeling extremely sleepy. That isn’t unusual for me, I have been sleeping a lot lately. Ever since Mom and the Big One stopped taking me on walks all the time, sleep has been the main thing I do. Mom is crying, and the Big One is holding her hand. I should get up and do something about it — Mom needs comforting — but I am just so tired, and my legs aren’t working. Something is wrong, and I am struggling to stay awake. I think I should lay down and take a long nap. Everything is always better after a nap.
Before we go on, I should explain something: I walk on four legs and I didn’t write this. I can’t write and I can’t read. If you are reading this, you probably walk on two legs. I am not sure exactly how my thoughts got here where you can read them, but there are a lot of things that I don’t understand. You know something else I don’t understand? How do you walk around on two legs without getting tired? Why is all your fur on top of your head? What do you do all day? How do you live so long? I want to know what happened to my Sister! I know she was sick, but is she dead? I think she’s dead.
I have lived a long time, not as long as the two-legged ones live, but I have had a long life. I remember the day Mom came to get me, it is my earliest and happiest memory! Mom was different then, but not much. She smelled of the outdoors, the sweet sickly smell that the two-legged always have in their fur, and she smelled a little like my sister. Dad was there too. Mom didn’t give birth to me, nor my sister, but she is my Mom and she has always led my pack. I love her more than anything else in this world. There was a time before Mom, but I don’t want to remember it. Bad things happened that I want to forget. Occasionally, I see the things that happened to me in my sleep, but not very often. Not anymore.
There were four of us then: Mom, Dad, my Sister and me. We were happy. I was happy. Mom would take my Sister and I on long walks in the morning. Then Mom would run again later, and I would run along to keep her company. Mom runs slow, but I didn’t mind — packs stay together. Sister and I would play. Dad was gone a lot, but he would always come back with treats and toys. I loved the toys the most, I would always play the game where I chewed the toy up completely until it was gone. Then Mom or Dad would bring me another. That was a fun game.
These were the best days of my life — with Mom, Dad and Sister. Mom, Sister and I would go on long walks. Sister and I would chase squirrels and run in the woods for hours on end. One day I even got to kill a deer! The deer was young, and it was slow, and I was too fast. I was very proud of myself! Mom didn’t seem so happy though. I am not sure why? Aren’t you supposed to kill deer? I don’t know what you do next, but I know that you kill them. At the end of the day, we would go find Mom and climb in her machine and leave. When Dad was home, I would put my head on his knee while he stared at his weird window. Dad’s window showed him what the other two-legged ones were doing. Sometimes, he seemed to be able to control what was happening in the window. I didn’t understand and I didn’t care. I just wanted Dad to pat my head.
Then one day, Sister got sick. Sister was sick a long time. I did my best to help her, but she didn’t seem to get better. Mom and Dad would put Sister in the Machine and take her to the Office, but nothing seemed to change. Then one day Mom and Dad took her to the Office and Sister didn’t come back. I just want to know is my Sister dead? She was in pain, I can live with her being dead, but I don’t understand why she’s just gone.
Mom and Dad cried for a long time after that. Things got back to normal and Mom and Dad would take me out. Dad would go on long trips and come back with treats and toys. Life was good. Then one day, Dad left for treats and toys and didn’t come back. At first, I thought maybe he was dead, but then he came in his machine and I went to stay with him for a little while. That was the last time I saw Dad.
For a long time, it was just me and Mom. We were a small pack, but we were happy. Mom had her routine: a walk in the morning, long absence during the day, and jog in the afternoon. Mom would leave for hours at a time and carry her toys in and out, but she always made time for me. In the winter, when it was too cold for our walks, I would pretend to walk on a machine that she kept in the house. I don’t know why but it made me feel good.
Then one day the Big One showed up. I knew something unusual was happening because Mom was excited and then she was gone for a long time. I smelled the Big One before I saw him. His scent was on her clothes all the time, but he wasn’t near. Then one day the Big One walked in the door with Mom. He squatted on his haunches and held his hand out for me to sniff. I decided quickly that I liked him. I didn’t like how he and Mom would shut me out of the bedroom for hours at a time, but I got over it.
Soon after the Big One came into my life, the first little one showed up. Mom’s belly got big and she got tired much more quickly, quickly even for someone on two legs! Then one day we got into the Machine and took a long trip. We left my beautiful house and lived in a tiny apartment with no door for me. Not long after the little one came to live with our pack. At first, he didn’t do anything but cry and eat. It took a long time for him to even crawl. I wasn’t sure that I liked the little one, but what could I do? Besides he smelled like Mom and I could never hurt anything that smells like Mom.
After a while we took another long car ride to another tiny apartment. It was hot here, and there was not any grass near the apartment. Mom didn’t like it here. Soon Mom, started getting tired quickly again. The little boy had learned to walk on two legs. I was cooped up all day and Mom spent all of her time with the Big One, the little boy, and out of the house. I would wait for her by the window, but the Big One started spending more time with me.
Abruptly, we took another long ride in a Machine to a house. The weather was cooler and the Big One was home all day. The Big One had a little window he would stare at for hours on end. The house was roomy, but it didn’t have a door for me. I would scratch at the door for two-legged ones until the Big One would come let me out. Mom would come around, but it was me and the Big One all day. Mom’s belly seemed to get in the way of her spending time with me.
One day, a little girl joined our pack. The little boy was walking and making the noises that the two-legged ones make. The little boy was all over the place when he was home, and now there was a second little one. The little ones make a lot of noise that get in the way of my naps, but you know what they do that I like? They drop food! It is amazing! Mom would never feed me what she eats but they drop food all the time!
For some reason, we got in the Machine, just the Big One and I, and took the longest trip of all. I didn’t enjoy this trip. My hips ached when I tried to jump in the Machine, and the Machine was crammed full of stuff. The Big One seemed stressed, but he wouldn’t let me comfort him and I couldn’t see Mom at all. When we stopped for the last time, it was for a tiny little apartment, at the top of three flights of stairs. I never minded stairs before, but it is so much work to climb the stairs twice a day!
I settled in to the little apartment with Mom, the little ones, and the Big One. My pack is happy enough and I have my routine: down the stairs with the Big One to the park first thing in the morning, food, Mom chases the little ones to the Machine, and I take the first of a series of long naps. In the evening, I wake up and the Big One takes me to the park again, and Mom brings the little ones home from wherever they go during the day. I eat my food and then immediately go and wait under the table while the rest of the pack eats. Mom and the Big One don’t drop food and don’t approve but the little ones drop something for me all the time.
Every once in a while, Mom takes me for a walk. Those are the best days! It isn’t anything like the old days. My hind legs don’t work well, and I have to stand with my legs braced far apart to keep from stumbling and my toes drag the concrete when I walk because I can’t lift my feet high enough off the ground. I still love walking with Mom. My chest heaves, and I can barely pant fast enough to cool myself off, but I wouldn’t trade anything for a walk with Mom. Dad takes me out too, but mostly to the park with other four-legged ones. I sniff around and say hi, but these young ones don’t show enough respect! Life is ok. I have good days and bad days. On the bad days, I can’t help but whine from the pain. On the good days, I play in the park.
I knew something was unusual today — Mom left with the two little ones and came back right away — she never comes back so soon. The Big One, had left with her and was home too, but his schedule was more irregular, him being home again wasn’t so odd. What was odd, was the way they looked at me. The Big One had walked me to the park this morning and had tried to get the little boy to come along. The little boy wasn’t interested. I stumbled down the steps as best as I could and hurried toward the sweet relief of my morning pee. Lately, my bladder has been less reliable, and the pain of waiting all night is almost more than I can bear.
When I came back from the dog park, Mom was waiting at the top of the stair case of the apartment. She watched quietly as I slowly and painfully climbed. I hate that stair case. Every day, twice a day, since our last long trip, I have suffered the indignity of struggling up the stairs, heart pounding, lungs heaving, paws scrabbling, just for the privilege of relieving myself in the park. I miss my house and my door — I miss my freedom. What I hate most about the stairs is when I fall and Mom or the Big One carries me — it is humiliating.
Why is Mom crying? The Big One seems to be doing his best to comfort her, but I don’t understand why. They are both looking at me — I should go make them feel better.
Mom grabs my leash and leads me outside to the new Machine. The Big One follows and lifts me into the back. I hate getting into the back. I don’t like riding in the back away from the rest of the pack, and the way the machine changes direction makes me lose my balance. I remember that I used to love riding around in those machines. The noise and vibrations were annoying but the smell and the sense of travel — it was amazing! I could see other machines, and I could smell everything outside, but what I enjoyed most was being close to my pack and most of all Mom. Going anywhere as a pack is the best. The new Machine wakes up with the low vibration and noise that they all make, and we roll out of the parking lot. I hope this is a long trip — the only place I seem to go lately is to the Office. I am not fond of the Office, and my Sister never came back from that other Office.
The trip is over all too soon and we pull up in front of the Office. I don’t like this place. The pack who live here smell strange and they like to poke me with strange, sharp things. The Office’s pack leader comes to meet us — she is quiet and odd smelling. Mom starts sobbing uncontrollably and the Big One starts blinking furiously and wiping his eyes. I do my best to comfort them both, but I seem to be making things worse. Mom pats my head gently, still weeping and the Big One has tears streaming down his face. At this moment, my hind legs collapse, and I stumble on the slick floor of the Office. I hate when that happens! It is so difficult to be a contributing member of a pack if your hind legs don’t work. The Office’s pack leader takes the rope around my neck from Mom and pulls me along. I am not sure why anyone thinks the rope is necessary, it isn’t like I am puppy that can run off anymore. Mom doesn’t put the rope on the two little ones, and they run off on their two little legs all the time! Life isn’t fair when you have four legs. Mom, still crying, puts her hand on my head and pets me. While I am distracted the Office pack leader puts something sharp in my front leg. I feel a short pinch and then it’s fine. Mom is looking right at me and she’s calling my name. I can’t talk but I let her know I am listening. I am just going to take a little nap, and if I feel good enough maybe we can go on a walk.