The memories are very dim. I recall yet another night alone in the woods feeling REALLY freakin’ sorry for myself. And for good reason. I was already in the advanced stages of starvation. Famished? The humans need to invent a new word that multiplies its meaning ten-fold. I’d been hit by a car and couldn’t put weight on my left hind leg. My pelvis was broken and caved inward, making me have to walk with my body at a slight angle in order to go in a straight line. It hurt, things sucked, had sucked, and continued to suck.
Even dimmer memories….. Being in a crate waiting my turn with several of my buddies barking our heads off as some human was barking out commands to one of us standing obediently next to him, raring to go. With the report of the human’s rifle, the dog would go running. I remember the gunshot was the big signal for me to leap into action… go get that fake bird-thingie he would throw right after firing the gun and bring it back to him…. so much fun to play tug-o-war with it! Tug o War and Chase are my favorite games to play with humans. My job here was to train the human to play tug of war and chase, and wean him of his need to take the fake bird from my mouth without at least a struggle. It was obvious from the start that I was going to need all the patience I had to do this. It will take time, consistency, firmness, and repetition.
Next thing I remember, I’m in a crate in the back of the human’s pickup truck getting driven into the middle of nowhere, pulling over and being hauled out, and then watching the rear of the truck disappearing in the distance. “You ARE coming back for me, right?”
Then it gets real fuzzy…..
So there I am one night by this big creek howling and yeowling from the core of my soul. In the depths of my mind lurked the possibility that sabre-toothed tigers and even Tyrannosaurus Rex might not be extinct after all…. Oh crap! What was that sound?! I cried until first light, when I was so drained I couldn’t even whimper.
With my crooked scamper I made my way in a southerly direction for about two minutes or so. My nose drew me to this place because I could smell 6 chickens, one guinea, 3 cats, and chicken food. I could hear the roosters announcing to the entire world that the sun was getting ready to come up.
A trailer squatted next to the chicken pen, with a carport next to it that was filled with junk and clutter. Obviously a redneck lived in that trailer. Being a hunting dog, this was an encouraging sign. Then, when submerged in the clutter I found this really nice quilt and a few old jackets tossed in a pile. I climbed onto the pile, stomped around a little bit to flatten it out, spun in a circle a few times, then lay down with a groan. As the first rays of the sun hit the treetops, my eyelids collapsed from their own weight, and I was dead asleep.
I bolt awake from the sound of the front door. Out walks the human. I say to myself, Oh my God! It’s CHUCK!, my heart suddenly beating fast. He climbs into his car and drives away. Again, slumber overtakes me. Dang this quilt was the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on! My eyes crash shut again.
It seemed like only a minute when I heard the sound of that same car, the crunch of gravel getting louder and louder, then the car comes into view. My heart starts to pound again…..
He parked, stopped the engine…. then climbed out. So I made the most important move of my lifetime. I stepped out from the shade of the carport in plain sight, wagging my tail, smiling, growling respectfully, and I guess I was peeing like a racehorse, too. And Chuck put his hands up to his head and said, “Oh My God! It’s Barkley!”
“Yeah, heh, heh… it’s me, Barkley!” (Wag-wag, whizz-whizz, smile/growl-smile/growl, wag-wag, whiz-whizz….), and after a brief pause where he just stared at me with his mouth open, he patted his legs and said, “C’m ‘ere, fella’!” So I did, and sat on his feet and looked right up into his eyes, with my entire body and head plastered against him. That felt so GOOD!
So I said, “Hey Chuck, can I be your dog?”
He said, “Sure!” and then he said, “Hey Barkley, wanna’ eat?”