The dog didn’t understand where everyone else had gone. One minute, there was the Leader of the Pack, barking orders and charging around the house, and then the big box on wheels came out, was filled with clothes, and he was gone. Next, the Roommate, who slept in the bed alongside the dog’s crate, packed up most of the stuff in the small space that they had shared for all those years and went to somewhere ominously referred to as “college”. So, the dog was left there with only the One Who Feeds Me to pay attention to the basic wants and needs of every day existence like bowls of food and goodies and ball throwing.
The One Who Feeds Me talked to the dog a lot, but never said anything profound or worth remembering. She added to each bowl, on top of the boring, dry kibble, a spoon of canned food from the wonderful white box that was full of human treats. She sat on the couch next to the dog, turning the pages of a book, clicking on the keys of the little folding screen or too often staring at the big screen that was constantly blaring voices and moving pictures of people sitting around saying things that the dog did not care about one hoot.
When the dog barked at the little creatures that had the audacity to race around the yard, picking up nuts and burying them in the piles of leaves, the One Who Feeds Me got annoyed and tried to make the dog stop jumping on the window screens and scratching the wood on the back door. The dog felt bad that the One Who Feeds Me did not understand the importance of keeping the yard free and clear of these impudent invaders.
Sometimes, the dog would drop the tennis ball in front of the One Who Feeds Me, hoping that she would not be so lazy. It only worked three or four times each day, but when the One Who Feeds Me grabbed the ball and opened the back door, the dog knew that she understood the joy and meaning of racing across the yard back and forth with the soggy, chewy rubber prize in the dog’s mouth. The dog decided this was good exercise for the One Who Feeds Me, who had to bend over again and again and walk, or even run, to reach the ball before the dog snatched it up.
Every night, after the moon was high in the sky, the One Who Feeds Me would reach for the blue leash one last time and take the dog outside into the dark night. She would wait patiently while the dog sniffed all the significant spots and, nose to the ground, ran in circles following every clue about who and what had crossed the yard after the sun went down. Then, marking the territory so anyone who came through here would be sure to notice and move on, the dog trotted back to the house. Upstairs, the One Who Feeds Me would open the door to the black wire crate and drop some biscuits inside on the soft pad. The dog crawled right into the cozy den as the door was shut and the blanket covering the crate closed out all the light. The dog wondered what the One Who Feeds Me was going to do now, but fell asleep rather than worry about it.
This was the routine, day after day, night after night. Then, without warning, on an evening just like any other, as the One Who Feeds Me was mesmerized by the big screen after dinner, the dog heard voices, deep angry voices, outside, and knowing exactly what must be done, the dog began to growl and bark as loud as possible. The One Who Feeds Me jumped up and peered under a small corner of the closed curtains. In the street, red lights began flashing, and more voices shouted. The dog barked more emphatically, and for once, the One Who Feeds Me did not object. A loud sharp noise rang out, and the voices were silent. The red lights stopped flashing, and everyone went away. The One Who Feeds Me patted the dog on the head.
That night, when the dog headed towards the crate, the One Who Feeds Me did not open the door. Instead, she motioned to the bed in the room where she slept and invited the dog to jump up on it. The dog knew a good opportunity must never be ignored and leaped up, snuggling close against the One Who Feeds Me’s leg. She put her arm around the dog’s soft, thick middle, and the dog reached up and licked her on the nose. “Good dog”. And they slept together happily ever after.