You looked at me through the metal linked fence. I looked back, head cocked to one side. My ear hurt.
The woman came with the key and the leash. She gave you instructions. “Hold the leash around your wrist and through your hand. This one’s a runner,” she said.
We all walked outside. Sweet fresh smells! Let’s go, go, GO! I peed on the first upright thing. The ground, in contrast to the cold hard inside, was soft and bumpy. The grass tickled my nose. My paws dampened from the dew. The sun heated my black coat.
The advice the woman gave you was sound. I pulled hard, wagging my tail all the while. The kids squealed and called, “Barney!” The people inside called that word too. Good things happened when I heard that word. Food. Outside. Touches.
Someone from inside watched. You sat down on a picnic bench. You looked at me. The woman said, “He knows some tricks.” Then you said words I understood. “Sit.” I sat. “Shake.” I offered my paw. It was the right thing to do. I received more petting, and this time there was something more. Hugs and something I would later comprehend as love.
I waited patiently while papers shuffled. The excited children patted my head and back, smiling. You asked about my ear. They hadn’t noticed, but you had. A slobbering one-eyed dog looked approvingly at me from the other side of the counter. Barking echoed from inside.
Sitting high on the back seat, as if I had always sat there, the wind whistled through the windows. Someday I would learn how to put my nose out there and snort, but today I sat high and proud and looked out the front. I was on a new adventure, like so many trips in cars had been.
When we arrived, they told me it was home. “What is home?” I wondered. Still on a leash, I was led from room to room. There were oh-so-good smells. Things to eat. Things to chew. Things I tried to remember for later investigation. All at once, there was only you. And me. And this new place.
I was nervous and curious. Where was my cold, hard fence? Where was the rough cement slab? Let’s go, go, GO!
You led me to a bag, rustled with your hand and pulled something out. We went together to sit on the soft warm carpet. You handed me a bone. All at once I understood. “This is home.”