This new home is, for the most part, a good home. Better than the racetrack where, although I love to run, I was always behind. Here, I can run all I want, and the puppy he and she run with me — even though they are woefully slow on their mere two legs — and yelp happily and tumble with me as if I am puppy again myself. Such joy!
The adult she expects obedience, and it has been hard learning what her mouth sounds and arm gestures mean. But she is patient and does not hurt me when I make mistakes, as I have heard happens in some places. And when I do right, she makes soft glad cries and offers tasty food bits and generous affection. Good things!
He is different. He too expects obedience but does not always use the arm signals, so it is harder to know what he wants. When I do wrong, he growls and barks in the human manner, and if I am too close, he uses his arm-paws to inflict pain. But when I do right, he ignores me. He does not offer affection or food. Not so good.
If he comes home early in the evening he attaches a long strap to my collar, calls to the other humans, and we all “go-for-a-walk.” This is usually good, as our entire pack moves strongly and rapidly through the neighborhood, advertising our health and presence to the other inhabitants. Other dogs are out with their packs, and we exchange greetings and learn each others’ scents while our humans communicate with their mouth sounds and he establishes his possession and protection of his female by wrapping his arm around her, which seems to please her. I am not allowed to chase the small furries — whether they be cats or squirrels — which is disappointing, but I think he is happy with my desire to do so, for he uses my name, Flash, in a strong tone when he speaks to the non-pack humans and stands more erect with his chest expanded.
The young humans have taught me that the long strap is called “get-your-leash” and when I bring it to them, we three will “go-for-a-walk.” This is good too, for now I am allowed to sample all the odor-signs left by other dogs, and on occasion they drop the long strap and I am free to chase the small furries. I have not yet caught one — they go up trees so very quickly — but the puppy humans follow as swiftly as their two legs allow, yelping with excitement, periodically using my name. Then we go to a large place with trees and grass and meet other dogs and young humans and romp together until hunger demands returning home for the evening communal feeding.
This is frequently a pleasant time, though the adult he insists on quiet eating. My food bowl is usually filled before the humans sit down together, but the puppy he and she will give me tasty bits from their fingers. I do not think this is approved, for they cast many wary glances at the adults as they offer the food. If the adult she sees me under the table, she will order “get out of there” — which means I must leave from under the table — and bark sharp words at her pups. If he sees me first, he will bark at her, then she will give the order while he growls angrily at the young ones. I do not understand why he does not give the order himself, but this is the way it is.
Sometimes he is not there for the start of evening feeding. This becomes a good time, for the young ones will yelp happily as they eat, and she often ignores my presence under the table (but never offers me any food bits herself). It becomes quiet when he arrives, and she and the pups will become tense; I deem it wisest to leave the under-table and wait by my bowl in hopes of leftovers.
It is worse when he never arrives for the communal feeding. As they finish eating, she and the puppies become subdued and often do not finish their eating. She puts the scraps into my food bowl, but their fear-smell makes me defensive — although I do not see any reason for it — and I cannot eat. When he comes in, his breath smells of fermentation, his clothes smell of musty smoke, and his hands smell of non-pack females; he moves wildly and randomly, while his mouth-sounds are unclear and his arm gestures make no sense. She orders the pups to their sleeping dens, and while I usually join the young he at night, I stay with her, on guard. If she had a tail, it would be tucked close, I think. My own tail quivers under my belly while I wait for him to act. If we are lucky, he stumbles to his favorite chair and falls asleep.
If we are not lucky, he does not sleep. He uses his hands on her, to hold her while he puts his mouth on her neck. I fear he will bite her, despite no misbehavior that I can fathom, so I bark in warning.
“No, Flash,” she orders. “Go lay down.” Her fear spreads across the floor, but her voice is calm. She expects obedience. I go to the assigned spot and touch my belly to the blanket, but I cannot relax. There is a growl rumbling in my chest, but I stay still.
He claws her clothes away from her skin; he forces her back onto the table and mounts her, though she is not in heat. I do not understand: she stays quiet and still, yet her face is wet. Suddenly he releases her; he is howling, and his face is wet. She takes his arm and pulls him to their sleeping den.
“Flash, stay,” she orders. But her voice is uncertain, so I disobey, follow them, and lay down against the closed door. If she needs me, I’ll be there.
© 2011 BJ Hill