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This story is brought to you by a strange phenomenon that we noticed not long after we adopted Smokey. For whatever reason, when we used the word “canine”, Smokey would leap up from whatever he was doing and start running circles, tail going crazy, whining like he was really, really excited about something. We used to laugh and I think we wore it out, because eventually that response faded. We could never figure out what canine meant. This is my theory.
The people had me back in the bigger cage the day after my attack. The dog they brought in, the people called her “Dog No. K-9”. She was my age, and she smelled like all the others, but I just didn’t feel good. I laid in the back of the kennel with my head on my paws while she looked around, and the people barked at me. Hesitantly, K-9 approached me. She was slim and black like me, and she cocked her head at me when she pushed her rear out to me, and I just laid there. I didn’t care, let the people bark.
K-9 took a step forward and lowered her head, then she sunk to her belly and crawled toward me, reaching out with her tongue to lick my face. I kept laying there. I wasn’t impressed. She inched forward, then leaned her head up and sniffed my muzzle. After a good sniff, she slowly stood up and moved to my head. Before I could even let out a growl she was standing over me, quietly licking and grooming the blood off the top of my head. I closed my eyes and heaved a deep sigh, my muscles loosened, and I groaned deep in my chest. Well, that felt good.
By the time the blood was clean, the people had stopped barking, and I felt more like my usual self. I stood up, shook out my coat, licked K-9 on the face, and we went about our business.
The people brought K-9 back to me several times. The other dogs were just something to pass the time I spent waiting for K-9. She was special. She was playful and sweet and she loved to groom me, which I loved. We started to form a ritual. She would come in, we would play for a little bit until the people started barking too loud, and then we would groom each other before we had to do what the people wanted, and they took her away from me again.
At night, when I was alone in the small cage, I sniffed for K-9, but I could never find her. While I sniffed for her, I laid and thought about our quick play sessions, and how she would grab me by the shoulders like she was going to bite and then quickly flip on her stomach, so I could smell her sweetness.
And then days turned into weeks, and K-9 didn’t come anymore.
Months passed. I began to get over my despair. I slipped back into the routine. I stopped sniffing for K-9. Then one day, the people took me to the big cage, and K-9 was already there, waiting for me. I bounded over to her, but she tucked her tail and laid down, whimpering. I whined in response and walked up to her, using my front teeth to groom her back.
She looked different. Her stomach was flabby and hung down and her nipples were big and smelled like Mother’s milk, but strange somehow. She certainly acted different. She didn’t want to play. She acted like she didn’t even know me. But I knew it was her, it smelled like her. This was the smell I’d been searching for.
After I finished grooming her, I sniffed under her tail, and she whimpered again. I cocked my head and walked to her front. I thought maybe if she could see me better she would know it was me. I licked her face and rolled on my belly. She just laid there. The people started barking louder and began rattling the cage. I whined at K-9. I didn’t want them to take her away again. I nudged her with my nose, and she flipped over, tail tucked. I backed away, and she rolled back onto her side. Where are you K-9?
I laid down next to her and put my head across her neck. She sighed. We weren’t there very long before the people came in and took her away. I ran to the cage and paced back and forth, staring at her while the people led her away from me. I barked once, and she looked back and recognition crossed her face. She tried to pull back to me, but the people yanked the rope until her front feet came off the floor, and she followed, disappearing down the long hall of barking dogs.