Until a few minutes ago, I was on top of the world. And then I came tumbling down. A couple of my favorite cousins are here visiting. They have been shooting their Be-be guns and hitting golf balls. They stopped to come in for some pizza. I was laying on the floor next to them so they wouldn't forget that I like the crusts, when Kaden said, "Hey Grandma, what's the matter with Hunter?" "What do you mean?" says my mom. "He didn't chase our golf balls and run away with them," says Sean. You are not going to believe what my mother told them. I am still reeling. "Well boys," she says, "You know, Hunter is getting old. He is fifty-six now." "Fifty-six?!" they hollered. "Fifty-six?!" I howled. "Yes, in dog years Hunter is fifty-six years old." "How old is he in people years?" "Eight." "So am I!" said Sean. "I'm eight." "So am I!" I barked. "I'm eight. I just had a birthday last week. I got a present. I tore open the bag. It was a furry toy. I ripped his head off and pulled a squeaker out of his guts. I got a big milk bone after breakfast. My mom took me for an extra long walk when she got home from work. And I got to stay outside until eight o'clock, in my pajamas." "Hunter! That's enough barking!" my mom yells. But I wasn't finished. I was trying to tell them that on top of all that my dad gave me a rub down. And then, I got sent out here. "You can come back in when you are finished barking!" she said and closed the door. This is bull shit. Barking is good for the soul. I think I handled myself pretty well considering I just got the news I am going to be the same age as my dad in two more years. My dad is no spring chicken. How would you like to go from being eight and feeling great to fifty-six, in three seconds flat? And don't tell me that is what happened to you. This is different. This really was three seconds. Well, as long as I am out here until I am calmed down, I might as well bark. My mom says I can bark as much as I like, outside. So I am going to bark my head off. As a matter of fact, I think I might just bark my entire life story, as loud as I can. My first recollection of my childhood is scary. Not like, "I'm sorry Hunter, we are all out of milk bones," scary. I mean, SCARY. I was with a whole bunch of puppies. We were in the big house, all in little cages that were lined up and down and across from each other in a sterile room. The floors were hard, shiny and cold. I didn't like it. "I am innocent!" I barked. And I barked. And I barked. Nobody cared. We were all singing the same song. I still maintain my innocence. I was an alto from the beginning. I heard the people at the front desk. "Tosca must be related to Axle Rose." Kind of a nice compliment, huh? I mean, who didn't like Guns-n-Roses? At night there was a man who came in. He had a bunch of keys hanging from his belt loop and he was pushing a cart. He was real nice. But then he disappeared. A new guy took his place. Now, I am a pretty friendly fella. I like everybody. I barked a sweet little, "Hello there Mr. New Guy," as he was passing by. Wow. He could he jump. I told him how impressed I was with his spring-like action. But instead of thanking me for the compliment, he took a broom out of his cart and he smacked the side of my cell. It scared the bejesus out of me. So I barked. Then he took a mop out of a bucket and slapped the top of my cell. All the other guys woke up. Everybody was barking and carrying on and telling him to knock it the fuck off. But he didn't. He plugged in a vacuum cleaner and he started sucking me up in it through the iron bars. That thing was powerful. It sucked even more than some of today's politicians. The guy was a real douche bag. After that night I hid in the corner as soon as the front desk people went home. I did that until the day they sprang me loose. I walked out of there with a paper bag containing all of my belongings and a twenty dollar bill. I didn't know where to go. And then my dream came true. I was adopted at the ripe old age of three months. I moved into a very nice house with a long and skinny back yard. There were tulips and daffodils lining a white picket fence. My mom was really pretty and my dad was really strong. They told me that my new name was Hunter. They gave me a basket of squeaky toys and put some real nice dishes on the floor and filled them up to the top with food and water. We went for walks together every day. We watched TV together. I slept on the floor next to their bed at night. I was their protector. I barked at every noise. The only complaint I ever had was that they would take me to a building with cold, hard, shiny floors every now and then. It smelled just like the slammer. A guy there would mess with my ears, poke me with pins and do inappropriate things to me, with my mom sitting right in the room. Once I spent the night in that building. And when I got home I noticed that my nuts were gone. GONE. But other than that, my parents were picture perfect. And then the day after I turned four, or if you believe my new mom Millie, twenty-eight, everything went to hell. My parents had an argument and my mom kicked my dad out of the house. He wasn't even barking. She wouldn't let him back in. Soon after that the two of us moved into a tiny upstairs apartment. I spent most of the time there all by myself. When she came home at night, I would pull her around the block. Then she would feed me supper and then we would go to bed. It was super boring. I barked a lot. And then one Saturday morning, right in the middle of Sponge Bob Square Pants, when Patrick was being chased by an eel, she says, "Come on Hunter, we are going for a ride in the car." But she not only took me for a ride in the car, she took my basket of toys and my dishes for a ride too. And she drove us here, to this place, in the middle of nowhere, to live with these old people, Millie and Sven, my new parents.
There is a woods. There is a field. And there is a pond.
There is plenty to do.
I have cousins who come over to play.
So it's not all bad.
The only complaint I have other than having to do my barking outside, is every now and then, out of the blue, my mom takes me to a building. It has that same shiny floor and that same creepy smell as the big house.
I do not like it.
It makes me nervous as hell. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it is so unsettling that I have on occasion lost control of my bladder there.
I can't help it. My balls went missing in a place just like it.
Every time we go there, the same mumbler-fumbler guy, who only seems to own one outfit, which is a long white coat, comes into a private room with me and my mom and he starts messing with me.
I do not like him.
And I do not like those who associate with him.
I get, how shall I put it?
Oh yeah, I show my teeth. I growl. I whiz on their floor.
And my mom still takes me there.
What do I have to do?
Here is the weirdest part.
I don't know exactly what happened. It's hazy. At first I thought it was a dream. I was floating. I opened my eyes and my dad and a lady were carrying me out of that building on a stretcher. The next thing I remember is waking up in the back seat of our car. The door was open. I could see the house. My legs were rubber. It took a long time to get out of there. I laid right down in the driveway. I woke up. I took another step. I laid back down. This went on for awhile. I finally made it up here onto this deck where I collapsed.
They put my supper out here.
I took a bite.
I was out again.
It was dark when I woke up.
My mom's voice up in the clouds said, "Hunter. Wake up puppy. It's time to come in. Come on puppy dog."
I sat up and shook the cobwebs out of my head.
I looked around.
And that's when I noticed my knees.
"What the heck?" I barked. "Who in the hell shaved my knees?"
"Well, he's feeling better," my dad says. "Too bad his vocal chords don't have arthritis."
"It's okay puppy. Come on. It's time to come in," said my mom.
"It's okay puppy? Are you nuts?" I screamed. "Have you seen my knees?"
I tried to pull myself up.
And guess what? Somebody had trimmed my nails down to the quick.
I couldn't even get a grip.
"Where are my nails?" I howled.
"Come on bud," I heard my dad say. "I'll help you in."