Thursday, May 21, 2015

One More Writing Assignment

Pets are like kids: if you’ve got more than one, you’ve got to treat them all the same. And since today is Cujo’s birthday and he’s a big grown up teenager now, I figured I should write his story, from his perspective, like I did for Orion. It does make me wish I had done this for Dixie. I suppose I could still write her story, but considering that we had to put her to sleep, that seems a little dark of a writing assignment to me.

But here’s the story of the sweetest German Shepherd there has ever been.

This Is Cujo’s Story.

For the first months of my life, I lived with my mama, a brother and a sister in a barn out in the country. Since the day we were born, my brother and I were meant for breeding, to continue our father’s bloodline, according to the male human that took care of us. I heard my father had been hit by a truck and died, right after he and mama mated. Us puppies were born on what would have been his birthday. The male human had named me Santa, because I had a little white goatee and mustache.

Life in the barn with mama and the other puppies was quiet and uneventful. The male human had an accident and broke one of his legs. Because of this, he said we needed to be adopted because he wasn't able to work for awhile.

One clear pretty day in December, the female human came out to the barn. She picked me and brought me into the house. She was very upset and crying, so I was confused. I was her favorite so I didn't know why she was sad. She gave me a bath and let me stay in the house while my fur was drying.

A new man and woman came to the house. The new man went off with my male human, and my female human brought the new woman to see me. I was sitting in the doorway to the kitchen very quietly, because I didn't know what was going on. I didn't want to wander around and get in trouble, since us puppies didn't get to come in the house very often. The new woman came over and started petting me, the males came back, and then my female human disappeared. She was getting sad again. The two men put me into the back of a strange SUV, and the new man and woman drove away with me. They were both very happy and friendly, so I decided to sit between them. I listened to everything they said, even though I didn't understand it all, and I think the woman was happy but she was crying, even though she was telling me what I good boy I was.

The ride in the strange SUV lasted awhile (Amy said it was five hours from Virginia to North Carolina), and there weren't any animal smells inside it at all. Even though the ride was smooth, I started to not feel so good. I didn't have a lot of experience going for rides, and all of a sudden, I got sick in front of the strangers! I felt bad about it, but the woman patted my head and told me it was alright. The man found a store to pull over at, so he went in to buy some cleaning supplies. The woman stayed in the truck with me. She held my paw and talked nice to me. She told me about the house I was going to live in, with them, and the big cat-sister that was waiting for us. She told me she’d waited for a very long time for me to come along, even before my mama was alive! She told me my new name was Cujo, and I was named after a brave, strong and loving dog from a book.

The man came back, they cleaned up my sick-mess, and put a brand teal-colored new collar on me. It was a little big, but the man said I’d grow into it. We rode for a few more hours and pulled into a driveway. We weren't in the country anymore and I was nervous.

The woman went into the house, and the man picked me up from the back of the SUV, put a brand new leash on me, and took me inside. The woman was waiting for us in the back of the house and she was holding the cat-sister she had told me about. When she introduced us, Dixie the cat got mad at all of us, hissed at me, and ran away. I didn't see her much for the first couple of days.

That first night was hard on me. I cried all night long. How was I supposed to sleep without my mama and siblings in this strange house? At one point, I snuck into the bed with the woman when the man got up to go to the bathroom. That made me feel a little better, but the man said I couldn't sleep there. I kept crying and the woman didn't hear me or even wake up. The man took me into the living room and laid down on the rug with me. As long as he was touching me with at least one of his hands, I didn't cry because I knew I wasn't alone. We slept together that night.

Even the first week was hard on me. I was so afraid of everything because it was all new. I only went potty twice that first week. They took me outside a lot, but I was afraid to go. The first time I went to the bathroom, I peed on the carpet in one of the rooms. I had been there almost one day so  I really had to go. They didn't get mad at me, so that was nice. And then I waited a few days before I went potty again, and that’s when I pooped on the living room rug. I was trying to understand everything they were telling me, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do during potty times. But they didn't get mad at me again. Amy patted me on the head and told me we’d learn. They cleaned up the potty-mess and Amy took me outside, but I didn't have any more to do.

Finally, things started to make sense in the new house. I learned my new name in a few days and I understood that I lived with this new family. It took about a month for me to really understand “house breaking,” because I could potty almost anywhere I wanted to in the barn.

I even bit Amy one time, and I felt so bad about it but she didn't get mad at me. There was a loose dog in our neighborhood and he came over to our house. I didn't like him there. (He got loose from his house a lot and came to my house, and he'd come to my house when I was outside, giving me a hard time.) We started fighting through the fence, snarling and growling, and showing our teeth. Amy wanted me to come in the house but I didn't hear her. I had forgotten she was behind me, so when she reached down to grab my collar to bring me inside, I turned around and bit her on the knee. She yelped and I know I hurt her. I let go and I started to cry and got real anxious because I know I wasn't supposed to ever bite a human. She bent down close to me and I leaned against her to tell her I was sorry. She petted my head and hugged me and told me it was okay, that I was a good boy, and that she wasn't mad at me because it wasn't my fault. We went into the house together and she had me lay down to try and relax, and she gave me a couple of treats. She put a bandage and some ice on her knee, and told Shane she didn't need to go to the hospital. She limped for a few days and I felt so bad because I didn't mean to hurt her. I love her like she was my mama, and she forgave me because it was an accident.

Dixie, the cat-sister, was another story. She was older than me and lived here longer, so I had to listen to her. She was the boss and she let me know it! It took a long time for her to decide she tolerated me. Sometimes, as we got older, she’d snuggle with me, but if she wanted my food, I had to let her have it. She was a good cat-sister and I loved her. She started getting sick, and one day my people took her away. Before she left, Amy told me to tell her good-bye. I didn't understand that, because Amy hadn't ever done that before when we each went somewhere. They returned to our house without her and they were very sad. Amy used to kiss and snuggle Dixie the same way she does to me.

Shane, the man, told me my job was to make Amy happy and keep her company. Sometimes, he goes away for work for long periods of time. I always take my job very seriously. I make sure Amy doesn't go outside in the yard by herself, and I take her for walks almost every night. She takes good care of me, so I have to make sure nothing happens to her. And when he’s home, the man takes me for rides in his truck (I don’t get sick anymore), he feeds me cheese and lets me play in the garage when he’s working out there. I even taught him a trick. If I drop to the floor, roll over and play dead, Shane laughs and gives me a little bit of human food.

Amy tells me every morning I have to keep an eye on the house because that’s my job too. There’s a lot of work to done around here! She gives me a couple treats in the morning and then one or two when she gets home and sees what a good job I've done. She understands how much I love to play with cardboard boxes and sticks, even though she won’t let me bring my sticks in the house. There’s always good food to eat here and I get lots of attention. Amy hugs and kisses me everyday and tells me what I good boy I am. I feel very important here. Both Amy and Shane like it when I talk to them. They don’t really mind it when I bark because they know I’m trying to get their attention about something important.

I have friends in the neighborhood, both dogs and humans, and I even had friends at the dog park. I don’t like my neighbor dog because he’s loud and I know it bothers my people (he barks at everything). He thinks he’s the boss because he’s younger than me. I tell him that I’m the boss because I’m older and have been here longer, but he won’t listen. He even bit my nose through the fence a few years ago and Amy got really mad at him for that. (She always stands up for me if she thinks someone isn't being nice.) When family comes to visit us, sometimes I take them for walks, because I know my way around the neighborhood and I know I can trust the other family members that don’t live here with us.

About a year ago, they brought home the new cat-sister we met at the pet store. This new cat is named Orion. She understands I’m the boss and she doesn't hit me the way Dixie used to. She’s a good little cat but she runs around the house constantly. She’s got a lot of energy! I just wish she wouldn't try to snuggle with me so much. As I've grown up, I've realized that different species don’t snuggle together like that. It’s just weird. Besides, when I sleep, I like to stretch out on the couch or my bed. I don’t want to be trapped by a little body.

They take good care of me, and they understand that I’m growing older. My hearing isn't as good as it used to be, and I have arthritis in my back so my hind legs get a little weak sometimes. They still talk to me, but Amy also uses hand gestures to tell me what she wants me to do. Our walks have gotten shorter, but I’m still able to take her. She also has pills she can give me when she thinks my back hurts. She even picks me up to put me in the car when we go for rides, even though it’s hard for her to do. I’m happy to have this family.

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