I awaken to the noise of coffee making. I am downstairs in the basement, in my bed with my blanket and pillow. My sister snores beside me, equally content. If we are following the routine today, we will have to get up soon.
My sister and I each have a master. She belongs to the mister, and I belong to the missus, although I think they both love us equally. It is a pretty good life being her dog. She provides me a nice cozy bed in the basement with pillows and blankets. I remember the day she gave me my bed; it was the day after that awful night when she scared me to death. We were sleeping in her bed, and when she rolled over, we touched noses. I thought it was sweet, but she started screaming. It scared me so bad that I peed – I couldn’t help it. She was furious, saying words that I dare not repeat. I ran away before she could untangle herself from her blankets. The very next day I found this bed in the basement, and I have slept here ever since. It is better this way, I have my own blanket and pillow, and my watering bowl is a few steps away. Besides it’s safer, my master is so unpredictable.
I hear her above me, the running of water as she makes coffee, the clink of cups, the opening, and closing of the refrigerator door. I smell the coffee before I see her, and when the basement door opens she sings “Good morning girls.” My sister is already by the door ready to go. I peek up at my master from underneath my blanket. “Come on Wendy!” she commands in a tone I must obey. I rise slowly, stretching. She says “Good girl, ” and I am thrilled I pleased her.
Once we are outside, we stand on the patio and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the dawning day. Birds are everywhere and in full chorus. My friend barks a greeting from next door. I whimper a reply; my master does not like barking dogs. She puts her coffee down on the patio table and bends down to give me a good long scratch. I do the little dance she loves in hopes she will continue, but she only smiles and tells me to go.
Go? Go where? I look up at her. “Go potty” she points to the grassy yard. I know it will be wet with dew and I hate wet paws. I sit instead and look up at her. “GO!” she says more forceful with a snap of her finger. “You are a dog!” she commands, “Go be a dog!” She is getting angry, and I do not want to displease her.
I take a tiny step off the concrete and onto the dreaded grass. It is so cold and wet. I squat to do my business a few steps away, but a very forceful snap of my master’s fingers tells me she wants me to go out further. I tiptoe, to avoid getting the top of my feet wet. “For goodness sake Wendy” From behind me, I hear her say “Have you forgotten you are a dog?”
As I head back to the patio, I try to walk the edge of the garden to avoid the wet grass, but she scolds “Out of the garden Wendy.” I return to the wet grass and tiptoe to her side. “That’s a good girl,” she says and reaches down for another scratch. Being a dog must please her. I sit beside her as she sips her coffee and looks over her garden; I notice our wet footprints on the concrete floor of the patio, I do forget how different we are.
Suddenly, I get a whiff of something in the wind, and I raise my head with my ears perked. Something has changed. I look around trying to find the source of the smell, and I see a small rabbit stepping out of the garden. “No, Wendy, no” my master commands and she bends down to grab my collar, but I pull myself out of her grasp.
Every instinct comes to life as I bolt towards the rabbit. My only thought is to catch my prey. I feel the wind on my face, I hear the pounding of my heart, and it feels wonderful. The rabbit is zigzagging ahead trying to find a place to hide, and I push forward, concentrating on nothing else. The rabbit goes under a shrub in the neighbor’s yard. I sniff around the base, and I start to dig. I am oblivious to my surroundings until my neighbor taps my tail end with a rolled up newspaper. I pause, look back, my angry neighbor’s face is peering down at me, “Go home Wendy!” she commands and shakes her newspaper. As I wrestle with the desire to catch the rabbit or to please my neighbor, she grabs my collar and pulls me away from her shrub, “Go home! Bad dog!”
As I head for home, I relive the chase. It was a great feeling to be able to run and focus on something that I am sure I was bred to do. Looking back on the chase brings me joy, and I prance back home. I feel elated about my adventure and momentarily forget about being called a bad dog until I round the corner of the garden. My master is on her knees and tossing flowers into a pile. This is new; she usually keeps her flowers in the garden. When she sees me, I wag my tail. “Bad dog!” I hear her say, but I do not see her mouth move, this is a bad sign. I stop wagging my tail, and the good feeling vanishes. I tuck my tail between my legs, although I do not know why I do this, I know it makes me look ridiculous, and I hang my head in shame and lay nearby. As I watch her work, I realize that the garden has a path going through it – one that I created during my rabbit chase. I broke one of her rules – staying out of the garden.
With her back turned to me, I creep back towards the basement door. I hope someone will open it so I may hide under my blanket. She comes towards me taking off her garden gloves, she has dirt smeared on her face, and her hair has fallen out of its clip. I can feel her anger, and I twirl around the door hoping she will let me in. “Go on” she snaps her finger and points towards the patio. I obey and lay down near the table.
I lie on the cold concrete floor and watch the door. I force myself to be a good dog. I wish I had ignored that instinct to chase the rabbit. I have made a few people mad. I wish I understood what they want to do. My master wants me to be a good dog, but when I act like a dog, she becomes angry. She is equally disappointed when I act like a human by sleeping in beds or not walking on wet grass.
She returns carrying her morning snack. The instinct kicks in again, and I sniff the air for a hint of what is on the plate. I smell peanut butter and a hint of apple. I watch her dip an apple slice into the pile of peanut butter; she takes small bites; I would have eaten it in one bite.
She glances down at me, was that a smile? With a shake of her head, she offers me half of her apple slice smothered in peanut butter. I carefully take it from her, and she rewards me with a pat on the head. She watches me chew my snack, head slightly tilted, it feels like she is trying to read my mind. I become uneasy; I wonder what she is thinking? She pushes her chair back and reaches down and takes my head in her hands, scratching behind my ears slightly. “You are a good dog!” she says in that sing-song voice, and it makes my whole body quiver with joy. “I must remember that – for a dog, you are wonderful and I am fortunate to have you!” she continues. “Now I must write!” I go to my usual spot by the door, and I lay down to watch her tap on a machine she uses to “write”. The sun has reached my spot, and the warmth of it makes me drowsy and as I doze I dream of chasing rabbits.