Chapter 15: I, Dog

A cool breeze brought the scents of fragrant flowers, cooking meat, and clear waters. The sounds of trees rustling and of a near-by waterfall made Dog's ears perk lazily into the air. Dog was relaxing under the shade of a tree, watching his friend, Rex, wrestle a smaller companion to the ground by grabbing it's hind legs in his mouth and pulling forward. It wasn't angry fighting, it was fun fighting and that made Dog happy. Rex and the younger one bounded and yelped happily at each other. In a little while Dog would join them, but now Dog was full and preferred sit in the soft green grass, listen to the soft sounds, and smell the smells of this happy and green place. Dog had never felt such peace in his life.

Dog woke with a kick to his side and he yelped as he came to his feet. Gone was the soft breeze, replaced by the harsh frigid air as it billowed through the caverns around him. The feeling of his full stomach was replaced with the growling pain of hunger he had known all his life. He looked around for Rex but remembered that he hadn't seen him in some time. Others were there, the mean ones. Dog liked happy fighting, but these others were mean and angry. They smelled of hate and blood. Dog had been here as far back as he could remember. He was always cold and always hungry. Sometimes he would be taken out into the snow where he wasn't allowed to play and chase the small bunnies, but instead had to track for Masser. Most of the time Dog stayed in the icy pit, with the others. They were all cold and hungry and always angry. They weren't nice like Rex was, they didn't like each other and they didn't like him. This made Dog sad, he missed Rex.

After getting to his feet, Dog suddenly smelled something in the air. Strangers, here in his home. Masser was above him, yelling angrily as usual. He was pushing Dog and the others through the icy caverns and into the larger halls. Everyone was excited, and this made Dog afraid. Strangers didn't often come here, and when they did, it was always exciting. It also meant food, which was good, Dog was very hungry. But it meant something else. It meant the bad word. Dog didn't like the bad word though the others did.

Masser pushed and kicked them into the main halls where others like Masser were all running around. At the end of the hall, a group of small ones stood. They smelled different than Maser, it was far less strong. They also made sounds much lower and more soothing than the gruff and loud noises Masser and his kind made. There were about twelve of them, in a small pack. They held many sharp things and some had strange lights around their hands and bodies. Masser's people slashed and cut at the small ones with their sharp-sticks, while the small ones dove and dodged.

When Masser saw the small ones, he kicked Dog forward and Dog knew the bad word would come. Dog hated the word but didn't remember why. Even though it meant a full belly and it made Masser happy, it made Dog sad. But he knew had no choice. The others around him lowered down to the ground, ready to pounce with shouts and howls of excitement. Dog got in line as well, he knew what he must do. Then the word came.


Dog and the others rushed into the mob of small ones. Dog was aware of the others falling or yelping as strange lights hit them or they were poked with the sharp-sticks. He was aware of the sad and dark smells of burning hair and blood. He saw the small ones scatter and lunge, avoiding the charge of Dog and his pack. The others each picked out a small one to wrestle, and Dog picked his as well, a smaller one than even the others, holding a stick and wearing dark robes. Dog almost stopped when the aroma of the small one caught him, it was the smell of the fields and streams he had been dreaming of. A sudden vision of the pond and trees came back but was soon out of his mind as the word struck him again. He bared his teeth and lunged at the small one, knowing that soon the horrible burning in his stomach would be gone. Then the small one spoke to him. It wasn't the guttural noises of Maser, it was smooth and as coherent as he could imagine.

"He is not your master, he is the enemy. You have been hurt by him and he will hurt you again. Attack him and you will be free. I am your master and I love you."

Dog's head swam with the memories of his entire life with more clarity than ever before. He remembered the day his mother was taken from him, along with her soothing warmth and mother's milk. He remembered being beaten and yelled at by Masser, being told to "Kill" as he attacked other small ones. He remembered wrestling happily with Rex, but then remembered something very sad. He remembered hearing the word, but this time while in a hole with Rex. Rex heard the word too and they were both sad, they didn't want to wrestle each other down here. But they did. Rex went for his back legs but Dog managed to clamp down on Rex's throat as he rushed in. Dog squeezed even as Rex yelped and thrashed about. He continued to squeeze, feeling warmth drip down his throat and mouth, until Rex went to sleep. Masser took him away and fed him which made him happy, but he never saw Rex again. All of these memories flooded through his mind, but one thought stayed constant. Masser didn't love him.

He turned and saw Masser shouting the word over and over. He would follow the word, but not on the small one who loved him. Dog rushed and jumped at Masser, sinking his teeth into Masser's throat. Dog smelled the fear inside him. He heard the shouts and excitement from the others around him and heard the high pitched scraping of the sharp-stick Maser kept at his belt. Dog felt a sudden sharp pain in his side. He felt warmth on his side where the pain was, but also felt warmth in his mouth and knew that this was good. Maser fell to the ground with Dog on top of him. The sharp pain came back, this time in his stomach. He heard Masser's sounds of gurgling become softer. Than the sounds stopped. Masser had gone to sleep, and that made Dog happy. Dog tried to stand up but realized he couldn't. He rolled off of Maser and landed on his side in the icy cavern. It was hard to breath. His eyes fell onto the small one who spoke nicely to him, the one who loved him. The small one smiled at him and made soothing sounds that Dog couldn't understand. He knew he had done well and was happy. Then Dog went to sleep.

The cool evening made Dog feel a little sleepy as he sat in the field of grass, watching the fish in the stream. He listened to the quiet sounds of trees rustling and birds chirping. His belly was full and he was happy. When he first arrived here Dog met a tall pretty woman who smelled like the grassy lands around him. When he had wondered what this place was, the woman spoke in a soft voice to him the same way the small one did. The woman told him to be happy, that he would never be hungry, he could sleep when he wished, and could always play with his friend, Rex. Most importantly, he would never have to hear the bad word again. Dog stood up slowly and trotted across the stream. On the other side was Rex, who was chasing a small one around a group of trees. Both Rex and the small one were happy and having great fun. Dog was happy to see his friend again and trotted down to join them. Dog had never felt such peace in his life.