This morning, Dad takes me outside and Mom leaves early. After a short while, Dad feeds and crates me and leaves.
He returns after a few hours. A little while after that, Mom returns as well.
“Are you up to going to the park, sweetheart?”
“Yeah, I think I’m all better now.”
“OK. We should go soon so we get as much daylight as possible.”
They make preparations and take me out to the car.
I guess I’m just going to have to accept this thing as a part of my life. But not without a fight – a passive, silent fight…
This time, she tosses a treat in the car, says, “Inside!” cheerfully and lifts me in.
What do you mean, Good girl? I didn’t do anything. You put me in here.
Humans are so strange.
The car stops in a place surrounded by trees and grass. She opens the car door, says, “Wait,” clips on my leash, says, “OK,” and allows me to jump out of the car.
“We need to start training her like that, so she doesn’t just bolt out of the car when we open the door.”
“Well, you will probably be the one taking her places in the car.”
“True. But you should still…”
“GRACIE GRACE!! HI BEEBEE!!”
Uh-oh. The high voice woman.
“Mom, don’t do that. She’s not used to it. It scares her.”
“Sheba never minded it.”
“Because Sheba was with us from the time she was 8 weeks old. She grew up listening to baby-talk and a lot of other stuff. She knew us from puppyhood. But Gracie grew up on a track, in a cage, not around a lot of people, and she definitely didn’t hear baby-talk. So it scares her. She needs time to get used to you.”
The high voice woman seems annoyed.
There’s a man too, and his scent is similar to Mom’s scent. But masculine, of course. Another relative. He has hair on his face.
“Hey there, Gracie.”
He crouches down and offers a hand for me to sniff, scratching my ears with the other hand. Decent manners for a human.
We walk around the park until the sun begins to set. Then we walk back to the car.
“We got a few things for Gracie.”
The high voice woman hands Mom a bag.
“There’s biscuits, another Kong, an un-stuffed toy, and a plastic travel bowl.”
Mom opens the car door, repeats her earlier treat/command/lift/praise procedure, and I’m in the car before I know what happened.
By the time we get home, I’m very tired. All the walking and the queasiness from the car ride have made me very sleepy. I step into my crate and sleep.
The next thing I know, two strangers are looking in my crate.
“Hi Gracie. Wake up, we want to meet you.”
The female one has a scent similar to Dad’s. His relative. The male one doesn’t smell familiar.
Uh, hi. Nice to meet you… I’m very sleepy…
“Wow, she’s really tired. What did you do?”
“We took her to the park. We walked her around a lot.”
They talk and eat something. I’m too sleepy to pay much attention. They try to wake me again and the woman who smells like Dad examines me – sort of the way the veterinarian examines me.
Thanks, but I just saw the vet a few days ago…
“She’s pretty healthy. She has gingivitis. And her nails are really long.”
“What can I do about the gingivitis? Besides brushing, that is.”
“Use an enzymatic toothpaste. And put some hydrogen peroxide on her gums. That should heal them up. Just a little bit, on a cotton swab.”
Dad’s relative and the man with her leave.
“Now Gracie’s met most of our family. She just needs to meet your parents next.”
“Why don’t we invite them over for dinner and to meet her?”
“OK, why don’t you call them and set up a date?”
What has become the nightly routine ensues, and I’m soon comfortably asleep on my soft bed.
* * * * *
What was that?? It came from above. It must be after midnight. Mom and Dad are asleep in their bed. Or are they?
He is. She seems to be listening to the thumps and shaking in fear. I sniff the air. There is nothing in here. Something above the ceiling is crashing around, but it has no way to get in here. But she’s still shaking. Does she not know we’re safe? I stand up and nuzzle her face.
It’s OK. I’m not sure what it is, but it can’t get us. I’m sure of that. It’s OK, don’t be scared.
“Hi, baby,” she whispers, stroking my head. I feel her calm a bit.
“Go to sleep, baby girl.”
OK, but I’ll be right here if you get scared.
Morning comes, and I do what I’ve been doing each morning.
Good morning! The sun is up! You don’t have to be afraid now.
“Shhh! Ugh… I really need to train her to stop that. It’s Sunday. I want to sleep.”
They cuddle up again and go back to sleep. I lie down again to wait.
After a few hours, her phone buzzes. She groans and looks at it. She rolls over to face him.
“Lorraine just texted me. She wants to take the dogs to the trail for a walk. Do you mind if I go?”
Groggily he responds, “I guess not.”
“Maybe it will do her some good.”
She gets out of bed, quickly gets dressed and then leashes me and takes me outside. She tells me to relieve myself, and once I do, she brings me to the car. She lifts me in because I’m still not budging on this.
After a very short drive, she lets me out and leads me to meet a very strange creature.
* * * * *
It smells like a dog. It doesn’t bark, yip, or whine. It has ears like a bat. It comes squirming at me like an exuberant puppy.
Wait. It is a puppy. A weird puppy.
“Gracie, this is Tulip. Say hi to her. Be nice, she’s just a baby.”
I can see that. But what kind of baby?
“Hi, Gracie! Aren’t you pretty?”
The woman with the strange-looking puppy strokes my head. She is friendly and animated, yet, at the same time she gives off an anxious, uncertain energy. But I’m getting to enjoy the gentle touches I receive from the humans I’ve encountered since I was adopted. At the track, the only handling we received was when they would fasten on our racing muzzles and vests and roughly turn our ears inside-out to read our tattoos.
The two women converse as they and the puppy and I walk on a trail near a large body of water. There are many interesting smells along the way. We even meet another dog – this dog doesn’t look like me, but he’s definitely a dog. He’s about my height, with shaggy fur, a good strong dog scent and very fluent in dog body language. It’s a nice encounter.
After some time and a lot of walking, we return to the car. As usual, I freeze in front of the open door. She follows her treat/lift/praise procedure. The other woman laughs.
“Having some trouble?”
“We’re working on it.”
We return home and eat. After another hour or so, they both leave. They return in a few hours and Mom takes me outside. And the evening passes like the others.