I am Boy. I am a Dog. I love my Human so much.
Human is Good Man, even though I am often Bad Dog.
“Bad Dog!” he screams at me, kicking me in the side.
“I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry,” I bark, but he does not understand.
“Shut up!” Then, he hits me. This is how I learn to never chew on shoes, even though they look so much like my rubber toys.
“Bad Dog!” he yells. It hurts when he slaps my head.
I should know better. I am not supposed to chase Cat, but I do; I cannot help it. She taunts me with her fluffy tail and bats me on my nose when Human isn’t looking. She never gets in trouble, but I do.
Human was not always so angry. A long time ago, there were other Humans. Good Man had a Woman and there were smaller Mans. They all loved me very much. I didn’t mind when smaller Mans grabbed my tail. They liked to cuddle up with me and bury their faces in my fur. Woman would scratch my chin, my favorite spot, and told me I was a Good Boy.
Then, bad things happened. Good Man was not home for a while, and his Woman and smaller Mans were very upset. When he came back, he wasn’t the same. He didn’t go away during the day like Woman and the smaller Mans. He just sat in his chair and became stinky and sullen. It was my duty to be by him, because he is my Human and I love him so much, so I sat with him dutifully.
One day, the Woman came running out of their bedroom with a bloody face. She screamed and screamed. I tried to stop her and help her, but she only kicked me out of the way and said, “Stupid dog! Get out of my way!” She went to the smaller Mans’ room and took them away by their paws.
“Wait, wait, wait!” I barked, but they didn’t listen.
I have not seen them since.
I do not go on walks anymore, but that is okay. I am still with Good Man and I love him. I spend my days laying by his chair and I try hard to not anger him, but I am not good at that. I am a Bad Boy and I am punished.
I asked to go outside, because I had to, as he calls it “go potty.”
“Please, please, please,” I barked. The urgency was rising. I waited at the door and stared through the glass. I was so close, but so far!
“Please, please, please!” I barked, louder.
He did not hear me. He snored in his chair. I nudged his hand. “Please!”
And I am embarrassed to say that I couldn’t stop myself and I made a puddle on the floor. When Good Man woke up, he beat me very hard that the next time I “go potty,” it hurt.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone but Good Man. Even Cat is gone. She ran through his legs one night when he came home. I don’t blame her. They never got along well, but I miss her. At least I have my Human.
One day, another Woman comes home. I do not like her. She smells funny, like a bad flower. She has ugly fur that she piles on her head. She sucks on little white sticks and bad-smelling smoke comes out. Soon, everything smells like those sticks. She is not kind to me and hurts me when I do not deserve it; I never once chewed on her shoe! She tries to pet me when she isn’t in a bad mood, but I growl at her. I do not want her near me. She is not my Woman. She has a smaller Man that tugs my tail, but it hurts. After I try to nip at her small Man to tell him to stop, Good Man drags me outside and ties my collar to a rope and ties the rope to a tree. I am not allowed back inside.
Sometimes, the ugly Woman’s little Man comes outside. He throws rocks at me.
“Stop, stop, stop,” I bark, but no one pays attention, even though I know they are listening.
A big rock hits my eye.
I can’t see out of it anymore.
The little Man just laughs and laughs. My Human does not help.
I wonder what it is that I have done that makes him hate me so much.
I am very sad.
Where is my Good Man?
It is becoming cold.
I wake up one morning and I am shaking. The ground is very hard and cold. The grass is dead. The leaves on the tree are gone. The rope on my neck feels heavier than usual.
I am thirsty and I can see with my good eye my water bowl. Has it always been that far away?
I stand up, but I fall over. I am very weak, but I am so thirsty.
It takes me a long time, but I manage to walk to the bowl. I can barely stand it, my throat is so dry.
But my water is frozen.
There is another voice that comes from over the fence. I do not recognize it.
“Oh, no,” it cries. It sounds very sad. I try to wag my tail to let the voice know it’s okay, they should not be sad. Even though I am a Bad Boy, I will try to make you happy.
I feel a hand on my head. Is it the little Man or the angry Woman? I am scared, but too weak to fight. The hand pets me, gently.
“I’m going to help you,” it says.
I am very lucky, because even though I am a Bad Boy, someone is going to save me.
I wake up in a place I do not recognize, but I am warm. There is a soft blanket around me. I have been cleaned. I do not smell anymore. There is a little tube in my front leg. I am not feeling pain but I do not have strength.
“Hello, boy!” I can see there is a nice Woman. She is sitting next to me, petting my head. She is wearing a white coat but her face is sad.
“Why are you sad?” I ask.
“Sh, shh,” she says. “Don’t cry.”
My tail thumps and thumps. I want to tell her I am okay.
“Poor boy,” she says. She is crying. “What a good boy you are. Such a good boy. Do you know who’s a Good Boy? It’s you. It’s you!”
My tail thumps even more. I am a Good Boy?! She is looking at me with a smile and she isn’t hurting me. I must really be a Good Boy!
“Your owner was a Bad Man,” she says, sternly. “A very Bad Man. And he did bad things to you.” She scratches me under my chin, where I love it best.
“I am very sorry,” she continues. “But we can’t do anything else for you. You probably don’t understand me at all. But you know you are a Good Boy.”
She releases something on the tube and I feel something warm entering my arm. I start to grow tired. I want to make her stop crying, but she doesn’t. She pets me and scratches my chin until the very last words I hear are: