“Owner petted me with the softest, most serene pet, as usual. They patted my forehead calmly and sang me to sleep. A dream formed around me, surrounding my brain in sleep. Floating islands of delicate treats, singing birds, and a pack of fresh squirrels surrounded my dream.”
Chapter One: Owner is Gone
Owner petted me with the softest, most serene pet, as usual. They patted my forehead calmly and sang me to sleep. A dream formed around me, surrounding my brain in sleep. Floating islands of delicate treats, singing birds, and a pack of fresh squirrels surrounded my dream. Owner was running on their machine, and I was free of work, obedience, and training. Giant fields surrounded my home, dotted with dogs, sticks, and trees. There was game to hunt, and dogs were all barking and playing, and the sun shone like a beacon of happiness, hope, and knowledge.
I skipped to my friends, fur freshly groomed, never to be unkempt again. They greeted me with a joyful bark, prancing about, delighted to see me. Their owners were lounging in chairs, talking cheerfully about the latest soccer game. Lin, my best friend, trotted up to me and gave me an invitation to play, so I joined him. We played chase, an average game, but the one I hungered for the most, for Owner never allowed me to play chase. My other friends approached me, and they all wanted to play with me, so we did. It was the world I wanted, a utopia, a dream. Owner was never disappointed with me, there were always friends to play with, and a happy home to go home to at the end of the day. Then, a jolt of light woke me up, and Owner was gone.
I scampered to the living room, as quiet as a mouse, expecting Owner to appear and push me outside to use the bathroom, but they didn’t. I poked around the house. It was dark and quiet except for the wind rustling behind the trees. I entered the kitchen, and I sniffed around to see if he was pouring food for me, but all I could smell was the smell of cheese, poisons, and… my food!
I clawed up the kitchen cabinets, and I grasped the handle and nearly slid. The metal was smelly and stung my paws, but I knew it was all worth it, for the bag opened and the food spilled out like a rainbow. I jumped down at full speed, and I gobbled the food as fast as a gazelle. The bundle of flavors was like dreams, and my head hurt a lot, and my stomach felt like a punchbag, and I fainted.
I woke up to a bright, sunny day, with boiling heat and an extremely cold floor. The temperatures were making me dizzy, and as I approached the door, a wave of cold hit me, and I realized that the pain in my head was coming from the temperature control machine, that thing Owner always played with, with the buttons. The buttons made the screen change, but that was all I knew. It changed the temperature in the room because whenever Owner said, “I’m hot,” they would walk over to the machine, and the house would get cooler, but I didn’t know which button did what.
I paced around the house, searching for a way to make the house warmer. The house was a mess, books scattered everywhere, food rolling out the kitchen, and Owner had not been seen since last night. The bed was rumpled, the toys were falling out of the bin, and Owner’s room was a disaster that even a service dog couldn’t clean up. There was no sign of a solution to this cold floor and boiling ceiling.
Everything I saw was covered in little, repeating scribbles that did not make any sense. Owner scribbled all of the time. They scribbled during meals, they scribbled during my nap, they even scribbled when I went outside. Then, I came across a paper with a vibrant, full-color picture of our temperature control machine, surrounded with black, repeating scribbles. The paper was white as milk, and the scribbles were black as night and glimmered like black holes. I felt like something was pulling me in. I felt an urge, a desire, to understand these scribbles and why Owner treasured them.
I quickly realized that I had to go outside, so I grabbed the handle, jolted backwards, and the door became a door to fairy tale land. I flew outside, and I looked at the sky, and I knew exactly what I had to do to fix my home.
Chapter Two: I Attempt to go to School
I could run free now! I raced out the front yard and down the street. I didn’t care if the pet control owners saw me. Running through the street like a cheetah, I jumped like a bird on five cars, and I slid onto the country road leading up to the school. Owner frequently passed the school on our walks, describing it as a big, red brick building with large windows and a giant course nearby. Today, I saw little owners barking like foxes in the front yard. Then, they all began to approach me.
“What a cute doggie!” one told their friend as they petted me.
“Let me hold it!” another shouted.
“Let me, let me!” they squealed!
The owners yelled at each other, pulling on my ears and patting my head constantly. I wanted to bite them, to growl at them, to even fight them, but I knew I couldn’t go to school if I fought with my new playmates. Then, I scampered to the entrance of the school, weaving my way around the forest of feet. I soon saw a pair of very large feet, and the forest was getting tighter. I could hear the cries of the owners that had petted me earlier, and their footsteps were quick like rabbits. Pushing forward, I attempted to weave my way through the big feet, tripping over lopsided bags laying on the floor. Fingers were slowly being added to the forest, owners reached their fingers and nabbed the bags next to me, nearly dragging me off of the ground.
The entrance felt closer now. I could smell the fresh smell of the red brick coming like waves through my nose. The wall was visible, but owners were still squealing like mice. Disorientated, I scuttled around trying to find the entrance to the school. Wafts of sweat, perfume, and breakfast floated around like clouds. The owners were so near each other now, the forest felt like a maze, and there was no sunlight.
I raced around this confusing, noisy place, barely able to see what was in front of me. I regretted going into this maze without Owner. The owners were suffocating me, I felt like there was no life left in this world. Then, the owners all fell silent, and I shivered.
The brick doors creaked open like a rocket, and I crawled inside. The school was made of dazzling marble with giant poles, large arches, and a stark, black floor. Brown boards were spread over the walls, covered with white papers full of small scribbles. Owners were everywhere, crawling all over the walls and floor. Larger owners were herding the smaller owners into small, colorful rooms, squealing and shouting at them. Some owners were pointing at a few of the papers, scampering away when the larger owners were close by. I followed a group of very small owners, toddling slowly to the door. Scuttling underneath their feet, I crept inside the room where a large owner was standing at the door.
“Hello, class,” the owner boomed. Is our name Class? “Let’s sing the alphabet,” the owner instructed the class. What’s the alphabet?
“Of course, Sir,” the little owners replied. Is his name Sir?
Sir pointed to a scribble on the board and said, “A makes two sounds, a and a.” One scribble can make two sounds at once? How do you know which sound to make? I was confused, how could all of these owners understand what the scribbles meant if each one made more than one sound at once? I quickly realized that an owner was staring at me and that I had five seconds until Sir kicked me out of the school.
I dashed out of the classroom, and I crept the hallways as silent as a fly. I could hear footsteps behind me, Sir was booming at other owners, and noise was growing. After scampering for some time, sensing a flash of bright light, I felt a drop in the floor, and the voices were much softer, but the hall was dimmer, and the floor smelled like dirt. I was now wading in water, surrounded by curved stone walls. I could feel the dirt in the water with my paws, and the water was getting deeper. I could see a small point of light at the end of the tunnel, but my paws were getting weaker, I was slowing down, and my head felt like rock.
Sniffing something, I bent down and tilted my head, smelling a familiar scent from back home, but I couldn’t quite identify what it was. Small lumps were floating above the water, and the water was now a murky green. The point of light I had seen earlier wasn’t very far away now, but the water felt more like sludge, and the lumps felt more like concrete. I could barely paddle, and I couldn’t even walk. Feeling weight on my back, I stopped to rest.
I crawled slowly through the muddy water, slipping and falling at various moments. The point of light was actually a gaping hole with a large waterfall coming from it, shimmering in the dark cave. I knew that the end was near, and unless I could paddle better, I wouldn’t emerge from the tunnel alive. I tilted my head ready to soar like a bird at the end of the tunnel. I paddled like a duck, and then an invisible force pulled me into the water. I sank underwater for a second, and then I did a straight vertical drop.
I dropped down like a cannonball to the ground. My paws were shaking, and my legs were freezing from the cold water. I could barely lift my head. I had dropped onto the ground and rolled over on one side. I licked my wounds from the drop. My paws were covered with dirt and mud, and I smelled like a skunk. I cried out for help, squealing in the blazing sunlight. Barking hurt my throat, so I settled down on the grass, and I fell asleep surrounded in agony and pain and devoid of care and love.
Chapter Three: The Pound
As I woke up, I could smell owners again, poking and prodding my paws, and legs, and even my head. Owner wasn’t here, though, and these owners were strange, new, and smelly. Their tools reminded me of the murky water from earlier mixed with treats. It probably had been used on at least fifty other dogs before me. Their voices were muffled, and I felt a needle near my leg.
“The dog doesn’t need it,” a voice commanded.
“How many shots has the dog got?” argued another.
Two owners were poking me with sharp stuff and yelling at each other, almost ignoring me entirely. They were screaming like gorillas, and poking me like tigers, and they had me pinned on their table. Then, I got a waft of air from another room, and smelling the scent of other dogs, I knew what this place was and how to get home.
After a little while, the owners released me from the table and took me to a gray crate, covered with scratches and broken nails. Dogs were barking around me like lions, and some large, lumbering owners were walking some dogs to a door at the other end of the hall. The dogs were scraping against the bars and were climbing up their crates. Above all, the dogs looked imprisoned, bored, and lonely, so before owners shoved me into a crate forever, I ran through the hall, opened the door, and crept away as fast as a cheetah.
I crept quietly through the streets, dashing from corner to corner hiding in the shadows. The owners had emerged from the building, the same ones that had poked me before, and shouted, “Find that stray dog!” I slid under a bench nearby, sliding like a snail on the ground. Running like horses, the owners checked under every corner, bench, and sidewalk, so I had to find a place where they would never look. I looked up. The blue sky went on forever, and the owners couldn’t fly, but I couldn’t fly either. The only way up was a set of slippery, metal stairs on the side of the building that Owner revealed were poisons. I did not want to get poisoned, but it was better than going back to a crate forever. I dashed up the stairs like a rabbit, and I scrambled up to the roof, and I admired the view. The buildings went on forever. Buildings surrounded me in every direction, and there was not an owner in sight. I could feel the wind blowing in my face, and I could sniff the fresh air. The giant owners were gone, and I felt free, but not happy.
Chapter Four: Home
Where was Owner? I could barely remember what Owner looked like. Was Owner a dog or a different animal? Was Owner nice? I slithered quietly off of the roof using another staircase. The ground was so far away, I felt the urge to jump off the roof, but I ended up on the second floor instead. It was still a shimmering, bright, sunny day, even though so many things had happened. Sniffing the staircase, I greeted five different cats and dogs on my way down, and by the time I jumped onto the street, I was exhausted and as slow as a turtle.
I twisted around and skipped down several streets, bouncy in my steps. I could finally return home! Huge buildings surrounded me, shades of brown, dark green, and gray. The tall owners were chasing their dogs across the street like cows, laughing and smiling like Owner probably did. The sky began melting into an orange color tipped with yellow, and the ground became a darker gray. I could hear the sounds of home close by, sounds of running, jumping, and playing like dolphins, having no worries, only fun. I missed my home, my friends, and Owner.
Where was home though? I wandered through the darkening roads, panting constantly. The sky was now a shimmering shade of purple with streaks of orange in the distance. Looking up, I could still see those scribbles drawn on every pole. If I understood them, I knew they would lead me home. Scratching at the poles, I gazed at the stars. They were like glowing dots, like small treats ready to be gobbled up. I got off of the pole and ran along the isolated, quiet streets, barely able to see. I peeked around the corner and saw glowing lights in the distance, covered by windows. I recognized it from somewhere, but I was not exactly sure where. I sniffed the ground, a mixture of gum, chips, stone, and plastic wrappers. I trotted slowly down the street, glancing at the dim, black sky. I turned my head, and I spotted a row of houses nearby, and I carefully lifted my head up, and I heard a calm, clear sound.
It was Owner. I hadn’t heard Owner’s voice since last night, when he sang me to sleep. This time though, something was different. Owner wasn’t angry or upset, but he knew something I didn’t, and it wasn’t the answer to the scribbles. I crept down my road, avoiding Owner. Hearing Lin’s bark in the distance, my panting fell silent. I didn’t want to be seen. I leapt over the fence near my house, falling like a ball. I pushed the door open with my paw, and I crawled into the house. I peered at Owner’s room. It was now clean, stately, but at the same time, empty. The whole house felt different, isolated and lonely. Was Owner lonely without me? I approached the bed, white and made of wood, and I noticed a lump in the pillows. I jumped up, eyes glowing, barely able to walk, I fell onto the bed, and I licked Owner’s face. I slept that night knowing that it was all worth it.