She sits down at a table with one of the kind people and they talk about me.
“Dakota Kat. Great name. She’s a pretty girl.”
It’s KB’s Dakota Kat. That’s my racing name. I know because the track people would mention it as they prepared me for my races and the big voice at the track said it when I won.
“How much would you say she weighs?”
“Oh, about 60 pounds or so.”
“How much should I feed her? What can I give her for treats?”
“I’ll write everything down for you.”
Good. They’re talking about feeding me. I won’t be starved like those poor dogs at Ebro.
“Will you be needing a crate?”
Eventually they finish talking, change my collar, leash and coat, and he and she lead me to a car. One of the kind people helps him put a folded-down crate in the car. Then they try to coax me into the car. I freeze. It looks scary. I’m not getting in there. That folded crate might fall on me.
Finally they lift me into the car and shut the doors. He and she get into the car and we drive off. I stand in the back, on what I later find is the folded-down backseat. I now know the car is called a “sport wagon” and it’s nice and roomy in the back. But on this day, my Adoption day, it’s a scary vehicle. I look out the windows and whimper occasionally. I pant. My nose is dripping.
“Why do you say that?”
“She is. Her nose is dripping and she’s panting.”
Good call. At least Mom seems to understand dogs pretty well – for a human, that is.
After what seems forever, the car stops. She jumps out of the car, opens my door, clips on my leash and lets me out. I’m a little queasy from the long ride. She’s emitting a lot of nervousness now. But she is gentle and patient with me.
She leads me to a grassy area and says, “Go pee-pee.” I’m not sure what that means, but I relieve my bladder. She strokes my head and says, “Good girl!” in a happy tone. I guess “go pee-pee” means “empty your bladder,” in human talk. I’m glad we’re understanding one another, but I’m still uncertain of what lies ahead for me.
She leads me to a door in the front of a brick building. She steps in, and I follow her into my new home.
* * * * *
I step inside the strangest place I’ve ever been. The floor is made of wood, but it’s very shiny wood. There are big, solid, soft looking things in this room. I later learn that they are called furniture – couches, to be exact. There are areas of the floor made of a strange surface, that seems a bit like grass, but is definitely not grass – I now know it’s called rugs, or carpet. She leads me slowly through all the rooms and lets me sniff around.
The crate has been reassembled in the first room I entered. I just stand next to Mom as she holds my leash and they talk about what to do next.
“We have to get all the other supplies. We should just go now.”
“We have to bring her with us.”
“Ok, let’s go then.”
We go back to the car. I look at them. Seriously? I just spent a nerve-wracking hour in there. I don’t want to do that again. They coax, plead and finally lift me into the car again. This time it has a soft, cushioned seat. She gets in next to me and strokes my head, murmuring softly.
We take a short ride this time. When we stop and get out of the car, we enter a very large building, full of smells: food, animals, chemicals. There are other animals there that have a faint scent of dog and display some dog body language, but they don’t look like dogs to me. They’re small, fluffy, jumpy things that make a high yipping sound, somewhat like a young puppy, but much more obnoxious. Overall, they look like prey to me. Something small and fluffy to be hunted and pursued. At the moment, I’m too overwhelmed to give chase. But if I run into another one of these creatures again, I will have to investigate.
They load the car with supplies and we return to the strange place in the brick building, which he and she call “home.” I discover that the supplies are for me. A very large bag that smells like food, something called a “Kong,” shiny bowls for food and water, a very large fluffy cushion-thing, and various other items, the uses for which I have no idea.
They put me in the crate and latch it closed. I don’t like this. I begin to whine and push the crate door with my nose. It won’t move. I’m getting panicky. Being caged, in this strange new place, with no other dogs in a neighboring crate, is freaking me out. They both say, “Shhh!” Surprised, I stop whining for a moment.
“We can’t let her out until she’s been quiet for awhile. She’ll think making a fuss is how she gets her way.”
What do I have to do, then? Humans are strange.
She puts a device to her ear and begins talking. I know what that is. They call it a phone. They talk to it and it talks back. I think it’s silly, but many things humans do are silly.
“I was hoping to talk to you first… It’s ok… I had the opportunity to get the dog today… Yes, she seems very sweet… I’m just so nervous. Someone is going to say something. Then management will be mad at me… Yes, I have all the paperwork. Can we take care of it all on Wednesday?… Ok, I’ll see you then. Thank you.”
I have no idea what all of that means. But I’ve settled in the crate and watch them both expectantly. She unlatches the crate. She clips my leash on and ties it to her belt loop.
“They call it the umbilical cord method. If the dog’s attached to you, you can always keep an eye on them until you’re sure they’re house trained.”
So she’s going to keep me tied to her? What is house trained? I don’t understand so much. But they are kind to me, so I won’t complain.
He opens the large bag that smells like food. She measures something out of the bag and into one of the shiny bowls. She puts it on the floor in front of me. Food! I eat every last morsel. Delicious. Tastes like chicken. Interesting crunchy texture, not like the mushy stuff they gave us at the track.
“Well, she’s a good eater.”
Well, you are good feeders, I guess. If that big bag is full of food, I won’t go hungry for awhile.
They eat something that smells incredibly delectable, but that I’m not allowed to go near. Oh well. They did feed me. I guess they reserve the good stuff for themselves.
“She likes the smell of beef.”
“Haha, of course! What dog wouldn’t?”
Sometime after they’ve eaten and it has been dark for a few hours, she puts the coat on me and takes me outside, behind the building.
“Go pee-pee. Go poo-pees.”
Got it. I relieve my bladder. She strokes my neck and gives me a treat.
“Good girl! Now go poo-pees.”
I don’t know what that means, but I’ll sniff around a little. She walks around with me, allowing me to sniff, now and then repeating her last request. After I’ve sniffed out the perfect spot, I defecate.
“Good poo-pees! Good girl!”
Another treat. So that’s what “poo-pees” means. I think I’m catching on. I hope she doesn’t think I can just do that on command whenever she asks. But it does give me an idea of what she wants.
We walk around a bit more, then we go back inside. I don’t mind, because this new place is cold outdoors!
After a short while, she brings me to what they call the “bedroom.” The large fluffy cushion is here, beside a big soft-looking thing that is as tall as me. She shows me the cushion.
“Gracie, this is your bed.”
Who is Gracie? And what is a bed?
“You’re going to sleep here, with us. Come. Lie down.”
She pats the cushion coaxingly. I look at it, then at her. I don’t get it. She sits down on the cushion and tells me to come to her. I do, and tentatively step onto the cushion. Wow. This thing is soft. Really soft. I’ve never felt anything so soft.
“Yeah, that’s it. Lie down.”
I circle on the cushion, and settle down in the most comfort I’ve ever experienced. This is amazing! I look at her face. She’s smiling.
“That’s right. That’s your bed. I hope you like it.”
Like it? I love it!
She gets onto the tall soft thing.
“This is our bed.”
He enters the room and gets onto the bed.
“Honey, I’m so worried. I just know someone is going to say something.”
“It’s going to be OK. You have the paperwork. They’ll get it by the end of the week and it will be fine. You’re taking care of it the way they want you to. Don’t worry.”
“But what if they try to make us get rid of her? I’m not going through that…”
“How do you know?”
“Because they have no reason to. You’re doing what they require. It will be fine. I promise.”
“Well if they do, I’ll make such a big -”
“Baby, they won’t. Come here.”
I’m drifting off to sleep. This cushion, this bed, is sooo comfortable. I don’t understand what they’re talking about, but I think it has something to do with me. All I know is, they’ve lain down and he is holding her. She’s shaking. I sense the nervousness.
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
“For being so good to me. And for my dog.”
Her dog. I belong to a human? I’m glad, at least, that she’s kind to me. And he is, too. So this is my new life… I’m sooo sleepy. And sooo comfy. I think… I’ll drop off… to sleep…