The first year of my life wasn’t a very happy one. It was so long ago that it’s really hard to even remember it. The very first thing I remember is being warm. I was with lots of brothers and sisters when this family came and took me to their house. I was really excited about that!
They had kids who wanted to play and we got to go on a few walks. They called me “Scooter.” But I must have done something wrong. After a while they didn’t want to play with me anymore.
They left me alone for a really long time and they hardly ever let me go outside. Then I must have done something really bad because they didn’t want me in their house anymore.
Maybe I chewed on one of their shoes or maybe I made a mess of their carpet because I couldn’t go out. Either way, they took me to the place where bad dogs go. I had to sleep in a cage and all night and there were other bad dogs all around that barked and howled and never let me sleep.
I stayed in the bad place for a really long time. Every day, people came to look at us and sometimes a dog got to leave. People would take puppies home all the time. And the people who took them out of their cages seemed really excited. But when the people who fed us took the older dogs out of their cages, they never seemed as happy as the new people with the puppies.
Then the day came when two new people came to look at all the bad dogs. They stopped in front of my cage and I put my nose down by my paws and let the lady pet me. They really seemed to like me and I couldn’t stop my tail from wagging. Then I got to leave with them!
I had a new mom and a new dad and we were going home to meet two other new people that they called Keegan and Kyle.
I wanted to be a good boy for them, I really did. But I didn’t know how. I had been in the bad place for such a long time and nobody teaches you how to be good there. I chewed on things Mom and Dad didn’t want me to chew on. I swallowed things I shouldn’t have and ruined the carpet when I threw them back up.
I got scared sometimes and growled at Keegan and Kyle because I didn’t know what else to do. And for a while, I thought they might get rid of me too. But they didn’t.
They kept me around. Dad used to say that I had so much energy that I was easier to handle when I was tired so he walked with me every night. And boy did we ever walk! We went all around the block, through the park, past schools, and buildings, it was great!
Sometimes Keegan or Kyle would walk with us and they would talk to dad while I kept lookout and walked next to them. Sometimes just Keegan or Kyle would walk me and sometimes they rode their bikes and I had to run to keep up with them.
We had all sorts of adventures! My favorite times were when we would go to the lake. I had never gone swimming before and it was so much fun! I used to run all the way to the end of the dock and leap into the water to get the ball that Mom or Dad threw. Then when it got dark, we all got to sit around a big fire. Mom and Dad and Keegan and Kyle would all talk to each other and I’d keep lookout and investigate new sounds or smells that drifted over to us.
Once when we were all around a fire, they all agreed that “Scooter” was a pretty dumb name for a dog. So, they started calling me “Jack” I was fine with that name. It’s a pretty good name I think. They would say “Jack” whenever they wanted something so I paid attention when they said it.
Then, when they had my attention, they taught me how to be a good boy. They taught me things like “Jack Sit.” And I learned how to sit. They taught me, “Jack lay down. Jack roll over. Jack shake. And Jack drop it.” That last one was pretty tricky to learn. Usually I had something good in my mouth and I didn’t want to put it down. But sometimes “Jack drop it” meant that they wanted to throw the ball again so then it was ok.
I wasn’t always good. I really liked my family but other people still made me nervous. Sometimes Keegan or Kyle would have friends over and I made them jump back by growling. One time they left me at a place called a kennel for a weekend and I made the guy there so angry that he yelled at Dad and said I was so mean and that he would never let me stay there again.
That was fine by me. I didn’t like him at all. He smelled bad and came towards my face way to fast. The whole way home Mom and Dad laughed about it while Keegan and Kyle petted me in the back seat. They laughed and said something like, “That’s our Jack!”
Then Keegan got older and moved away. I really missed him but I still had jobs to do taking care of Mom and Dad and Kyle. Plus he didn’t leave forever. He came to visit sometimes and when he did, we went on walks and played in the park like old times.
Then I moved down to a really warm place with Mom, Dad, and Kyle. Oh man! This place was nothing like back home. There were a lot of new smells and a lot of really funny looking animals to chase around the yard.
Then after a while, Kyle moved out too and the only people left to take care of were Mom and Dad. They took care of me too. I was still really good at keeping lookout, but I couldn’t bark like I used to. When the animals were in the yard, I couldn’t chase them like I used to. Mom and Dad still wanted company on walks, but I couldn’t walk like I used to and got tired so fast.
Kyle wasn’t as far away as Keegan, so he came to visit us more often than Keegan did. He would still pet me, and throw my toy for me, and we’d watch movies together like we used to.
Keegan came to visit too and he always told me what a good boy I was and how much he loved me.
Mom and Dad told me those things today too. They told me that a lot.
This morning, I woke up and tried to get my toys out like I always did but I couldn’t breathe. It had been harder and harder for me to breathe and now I couldn’t even bark anymore.
By paws hurt. My bones hurt. And I was just so tired. I could breathe better if I laid down and so I did.
I laid down until Mom and Dad came and got me. They asked if I wanted to go for a ride in the car and I felt my tail start to wag as best it could. I loved going for rides. They helped me up and took me out to the car.
It reminded me of when they came and took me away from the bad place a really long time ago.
I loved the car ride. The sun felt really nice and the wind came in through the windows and messed up my fur the way I like. I even had the energy to sit up and put my head out of the window.
Then we got to the vet which was ok. I don’t usually like the vet, but mom was always there with me before so I knew it was going to be ok. Today, I knew everything was really going to be ok since Dad was here too. He didn’t usually come on vet trips.
Then they tried to give me a shot. I never liked shots and I couldn’t help but growl at the doctor. I knew Mom and Dad wouldn’t like me growling but I couldn’t help it. Plus I couldn’t growl very much since it was so hard to breathe. I don’t think they thought I was bad for doing it.
Then I really knew that they weren’t mad at me because they started petting me. They told me what a good boy I was and how I had done such a good job. I heard them say Keegan’s name and Kyle’s name and how they knew I was a good boy too.
They fed me treats and petted me. They scratched my ears the way I like and I suddenly felt so warm.
My bones didn’t hurt any more. It wasn’t so hard to breathe. I felt like I was going to fall asleep in a way that I hadn’t slept in a long time. I didn’t think I’d wake up in the middle of the night wheezing or because my bones hurt so badly.
I fell asleep to Mom and Dad saying, “Good boy Jack. Jack’s a good boy.” And “Good job.” I really think I did do a good job.
I kept lookout for so long. I chased everything that came into our yard away from our house. I kept everyone company on so many walks. I swam with them, ran with them, and watched movies with them so they never had to be lonely.
But gosh, all those jobs really make you tired. Mom and Dad got further away and I was happy that they were going to let me sleep now. I could smell things I hadn’t smelled in forever. Lake water, wet ground, and Trees. I could feel myself running again like I hadn’t been able to do in a long time. I’m running towards the lake and I can hear my family with me saying, “Good boy, Jack! Good job, buddy.”
Now I’m sleeping, but I’m swimming. I’m chasing balls and running through the woods. This is the new place and it’s wonderful. All of the sights and sounds and places to run. I’ll meet my family here when they’re ready and I’ll keep lookout until they are.