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Time passed. Then a day came that was not like the others. It started out like all the others, with much lying around, sniffing and cage chewing. And then I heard something from behind the din of the hall of barking dogs. In the front room, the room the people magically came and went from, there were voices of people speaking their strange language, voices I’d never heard before. The first voice was softer, higher, but it was barking at the voices I knew. They were barking back. I cocked my head, stopped my cage chewing and looked down the hall at the door where the people came from. More people barking.
In an explosion of sound and light, the door slammed open, and a person I’d never seen came bursting through the door. The person was different from the other people. For one, I could tell she was female. Underneath the smell of metal and something ashy, there was a feminine smell similar to the smell of female dogs, but different. She was a female person, I knew that for sure. She put a hand to her mouth and breathed deep and loud, then shook her head and took out a big metal device and put it to her face. Every time she moved her index finger down, the thing made a clicking noise. I cocked my head.
Slowly, she walked up and down the halls of barking dogs. Then she got to me. I tried to stand up and hit my head against the cage. Hesitantly, I wagged my tail. She was different. She looked at me. She took the device away from her face, knelt down so she was looking right at me and put a hand to the cage. I tried to back up and away, but I ran out of space. She moved her hand away and said something soft and pleasing in her people voice. It wasn’t a bark. I had never heard people make noises that weren’t barks. I inched forward, thumping my tail against the ground. I didn’t know why, but I liked her. I wanted her to stay.
She picked the device up again, made the clicking sound and walked on. I watched her go and whined softly. From the corner of my eye, I could see the people I knew coming through the door. They looked angry. I knew all too well what made a person look angry. I moved as far back into the corner as I could and tried to make myself look invisible.
It didn’t take long before the female person was back. She put her hands on her hips and started barking at the other people. They started barking back. The female person turned her back to them and pulled out another, smaller metal device from her removable fur (I had learned at this point, from observing the people, that they could take their fur on and off and put new fur on). She put this device to her ear and started talking in it.
A while happened. The female person walked up and down the rows of barking dogs, using her people voice to say soft, pleasing things to each one of us. By the time she came back to me, I didn’t cower in the corner, but charged forward as best I could and stretched my tongue out through the holes in the cage to lick her hand. She smiled in a doggy way and used one claw to scratch under my chin. I thumped my tail. That felt good!
When a while was over, more people, both female and male people, stormed through the halls. Some of them made loud noises and had metal devices with even more people’s voices on them. I didn’t like those devices, they made loud, screeching noises that made my ears hurt, but didn’t seem to bother the people. One of the female people who had long head fur and high, pointy removable pads, pushed something in the face of one of the people I knew. She didn’t bark at him, but I knew she was angry. Her lips were pursed up like she was about to bite and her brows were furrowed and worried. One by one, the people I knew put their hands behind their backs and other male and female people put metal not so removable fur around their arms. I cocked my head as they disappeared through the door.
From the corner of my eye I saw the new people opening up cages and leading dogs into other cages with black ropes and then carrying the cages out the door to who knows where. I cowered in the corner. I didn’t want to go through the door that the people I knew went through. I wanted to stay with the new people, especially the first female person, who was still there, talking to the new people and pointing her hands in all directions.
I watched as the cages filed out, one by one. Then they got to mine. The male person who opened my door leaned down and reached a hand out to the edge of my cage. I crawled back into the corner and tucked my tail. He used his people voice to make pleasing noises, and I slowly inched forward, sliding on my belly. I licked his hand, and he smiled and opened the door to another, bigger cage. I sniffed the door, then looked at the male person, ducking my head away in case he wanted to hit me. When he didn’t, I moved forward a little further and sniffed the rim of the cage. This cage didn’t smell like metal. It had a sharp smell, but it wasn’t as harsh as metal, and it didn’t burn my nose like the feces and urine that surrounded me. I put one paw in it and it felt sturdy beneath me, so I put another paw in. I let my back arch up a little when I realized I could stand in it and stretched out my neck and my paws. I did a tight U-turn and ended up at the front where the male person was closing the door.
When the new people picked up my cage, I fell down and stayed down. It was safer being down anyway.
I felt scared, but also curious. When we went through the door, the smells hit me like a wave, and I got dizzy. So many new smells, it was hard to keep track of them. I opened my eyes wider and kept sniffing.
The people put me into a bigger metal cage with a bunch of other dogs. This cage was white outside, black inside and the sides were solid, but there were little clear boxes in the sides so you could almost see out. This cage was sitting on four big balls that looked like water dishes turned on their sides. I cocked my head.
When the people had my cage down on the floor of the new cage, I looked across the aisle to see which of the barking dogs were here.
And there she was. Dog No. K-9. I let out a joyous yip as soon as I saw her and stood up, stretching my chest out. I pawed at the cage and shook it. I kept barking until she looked up and saw me. She jumped up and started pawing at her cage, both of our tails wagging in excited harmony.
I didn’t know what these new people were all about, but I knew one thing for sure – I wanted to go wherever K-9 was going.