It is fourteen degrees below zero today, not counting the wind chill. Twenty four below if you are in the wind. I am glad I am not in the wind. Today reminds me of another day, what feels like a literal lifetime ago.
I was expecting babies, more than one. I couldn’t live in my house anymore, they said, because there wasn’t room for all of us. But that didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand how I could be part of the family one second and outside alone the next. I had always been so good. I did everything they asked of me, every single time. But there I was. Outside.
And it was cold.
I looked for my family for a while. I thought that if I could find them, I could convince them that I was still worth loving. But the salt on the road burned my feet and the snow gave me frostbite in my toes. I grew tired, and I felt a lot older than my years. It grew harder and harder to look for them. I realized that I would never see my family again, so I tried to find a new place to call my own. I tried to talk to people that I met as I wandered, but none of them could understand me. Some of them seemed afraid of me. So I did what seemed natural; I disappeared.
I had my babies. They were hard to keep track of; the three of them were rambunctious and crazy, and they all looked just like me. But I kept things together the best I could. I went out into the snow to forage for food, the cold seeping into my feet. As the weather grew warmer, and the babies grew older, I let them come with me. I taught them how to run and play, but I also taught them the ways of the world. I taught them everything that I felt they needed to know. Rain or shine, we were out doing what we had to to survive. A pack. Our own sort of family. Until the day the truck came.
I saw it from down the road. I told my babies to run, run as fast as they could. There was man there with a big stick; he wanted us to get in the back of the truck. His voice was loud, cutting through my warnings to get away. I ran, with the babies right behind me. When they started to fall behind, I tried to distract the man so that he wouldn’t take them away. I lunged at him, and when he grabbed me I sank my teeth into his arm. As I slipped away, I called to the babies. I was down the block before I realized they were no longer with me. I ran back to where I had last seen them but they, along with the truck, were gone. I had lost yet another family.
My life didn’t seem worth living anymore. I walked with my head down, avoiding people and civilization. I didn’t try to find food. I spent my nights huddled behind garages and inside sheds. As the weather grew warmer, I wandered down to where there was a giant place to swim. I thought about how I had planned to bring the babies here, to show them how to swim and teach them to love the water as much as I did. I sat sadly, staring out over the water and watching the seagulls circling overhead.
When the man with the stick came, I didn’t even see him until it was too late. He took me to a place that was filled with others like me, a place where I sat for over two months. The place was filled with sadness. I got food and water every day, but there was no one to love me and no one that I wanted to love. I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to do anything. I knew that there would never be anyone for me.
I remember the day they came, a year ago now. The day they now call “gotcha day.” All of the others were making so much noise, but I sat and patiently waited. They barked, but I didn’t. I didn’t have a lot of hope; many people had come to visit but I still didn’t have a home. Barking wouldn’t do me any good. I waited in my place in the corner, and I watched as they looked at everyone in my section but me. I didn’t move a muscle until the girls came, and put their fingers through the bars. It was then that I wagged my tail. Then that I just knew they were there for me. I cocked my head to one side and put my ears up in a way that, while I couldn’t quite remember, I was pretty sure they would think was cute.
I got to go home that day. I learned again about things called blankets and beds and toys. I got to play with balls and play tug of war with rope. Best of all, I got love. Snuggles and love are my very favorite thing.
It is fourteen degrees below zero today, but I am not afraid; I am not cold. I am sitting on the couch with my people, wrapped up in my favorite blanket that looks like that TARDIS machine that makes so much noise on the magical picture box.
I am finally in my forever home. And I am happy.