Friday, December 7, 2012


I've often heard from humans (and cats) that dogs have it easy. That we don't do anything but wait for the next meal. But our life is quite a bit more complicated than that. You see, we dogs have one purpose in life. That is to serve our pack. To love our humans and to never betray them. And this is the hardest purpose one can have for it can be the most heartbreaking. And many times even the most life taking.

When my first family tied me outside, they never looked back. I didn't understand what was happening. A dog's place is in his pack. Why was I being separated from them? Did they not know I was meant to be at the foot of the man as he watched his evening TV shows? Didn't they remember how I licked the faces of their children? And didn't the mother remember that when she sat by herself at the dining table in tears, I was there with my head in her lap to offer comfort? My place is with my pack. But there I was chained to a tree with a sheet of tin leaning against it to provide me with shelter from the winter I had no idea was coming to shake my very bones. There were two old plastic bowls nearby that would at first be filled with food and water daily until slowly, over time, the woman would think the man fed me and the man would think the woman fed me. The children would sometimes remember me as I laid in the dirt reliving in my head the days when I played with them. They would come outside with a piece of bread or sometimes a chicken bone.

The hunger made me anxious at first. I would bay a wonderful bloodhound bay, hoping someone would hear me. When the family's back door swung open I would sit like they taught me and wag my tail vigorously. Excited that they heard my cries, I barked and barked- so happy to see them! The man would come out and simply yell "Shut up dog!" before he'd disappear back into his den with the door slamming behind him.

Sometimes I would bay just to hear a voice outside of my own head. I learned to keep the baying to a limit for the lack of water didn't help a dry throat. I would catch myself baying in a dream of playing or running. I'd open my eyes when the pain of hunger gripped me. And then I'd lick the dirt and grass around me to ease the grumbling.

The humans ran inside when it rained. They seemed to need to hide from it. But I loved it! It filled my dusty water bowl and made my coat feel fresh as I shook my body. It felt good to roll in the wet dirt. But during the season of the rain, the cold came. And that's when I noticed something I found confusing.

My joints began to stiffen. I didn't know if the cold caused it or the hunger. I just knew it was horrible. It hurt to lay. It hurt to stand. It hurt to sit. I'd change positions to help with the soreness. But nothing eased it. It was an ongoing fire in my elbows and mostly my hips. The collection of physical pain from hunger to bones took its toll on me.

One very cold morning I could no longer stand it. I sat up and lifted my head to the sky. A hoarse bay thundered through my throat. I would not stop. I would sit there and bay in my loneliness. I cried for my pack to forgive me for whatever it was that I had done to deserve such a punishment. I cried to the skies for pouring this beautiful rain yet cursed me with an invisible ice to freeze my bones. I cried to my parents, missing my mother's warm milk. And I cried to my maker, begging for guidance to help me better serve the purpose every dog exists for.

In the midst of my song, the back door swung open. It was the man. Excited and believing my prayers were answered, I grinned and jumped in happiness! But his face had a scowl planted on it and his fists were bunched tightly into angry balls. With his shoulders hunched he growled as he approached me. Like a good dog, I submitted with my back to the ground. And then the blows came.

I've learned that humans are boiled with emotions. They express them very well. Some shout when they are angry. Some hit. We dogs don't know the emotion of anger. We know the aggressive feeling when we protect or fight for dominance. But anger is something we have never gained understanding of. It is not in our design. I believe it is because of our purpose.


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