Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
Fredrick’s home! It’s my favorite time of the day!
‘Alright, boy,’ he says as soon as he walks through the door. His skin looks shinier than usual but it’s definitely him. He has big eyes and lots of lines on his face and I’d know his smell anywhere.
I lather him with kisses as he crouches down to scratch behind my ears. And because he is mine and I am his, I know something’s wrong, so I don’t leave until he falls asleep on the sofa. I pull the blanket from inside my bed and pull it around Frederick’s legs with my teeth. He shuffles as I nudge his leg with my nose but I just want to make sure he’s OK. He needs the blanket more than I do. It’s covered in my hairs but I don’t think he’ll mind. Like I said, I am his and he is mine. It’s always been the two of us.
I hear noises from the kitchen. It’s early, I know because it is very dark and I can hear lots of noises from outside such as birds, and crickets, and footsteps from the kitchen. I bound for the door, knowing it’s an intruder, but my heart pounds even more when I see Frederick, pouring biscuits into my bowl. It’s early but hey, I’m always hungry! I can’t see very well but I can smell them. I sense Frederick somewhere behind me. Perhaps he is watching me, but I don’t know how he can in the dark. I’m not surprised when he sleeps again mid-morning, because I feel sleepy too after my strange awakening. But I wake up before him, which is most unusual. I wait eagerly for him to wake up, knowing he’ll take me for a walk before leaving the house – but the strangest thing happens.
First, he still does not wake. I have to nudge him to get his attention. When his eyes flicker and then finally open, he does not get the lead from the kitchen cupboard. I wait patiently by the door but nothing. And stranger still, he does not leave me. He puts the fire on and I curl up beside it. Even though I didn’t go for my walk, I am content. I feel safe with Frederick.
I jump up to be beside Frederick and he scratches my ear and says something that I know means he loves and needs me like I love and need him. He strokes my head until I fall asleep. I could get used to this.
The days roll by. Frederick still doesn’t leave the house. He sits with me by the fire each night. Whether it’s dark or light, he’s here beside me. His breathing sounds heavier but I don’t mind because I know he is here. I know he’ll never leave me again.
I sense something. It’s particularly strong each time I rest my face on his lap. From his stomach. I don’t understand. At least he’s here, where I can look after him.
‘That a boy,’ he says appreciatively each time I place my head on his leg. He scratches my ears. On his leg I feel warm and safe and something inside Frederick softens and slows, like he feels safe too. He’ll be OK because I’m looking after him. He has me. Maybe that’s why he’s home so much these days. He’s finally learned that he only needs me!
There’s a woman on the driveway.
I bark at her because I don’t want her to disturb Frederick, but he gets up anyway and tells me to sit. He lets her in. She’s asking a lot of questions with a smile on her face as Frederick shuffles out of the way and nods at her. He’s smiling too. Phew. She’s safe – I can smell it.
I jump up her and lick her face. Frederick tells me to get down but the lady pats my head – I know she loves me! She sits with Frederick and gets out an assortment of objects from a funny-smelling bag. Things I’d like to chew. I’m sure I’m not allowed, so I resist temptation. I don’t want Frederick to tell me off and start leaving the house again.
The lady strokes my nose before leaving the house. I sit with Frederick. His scent is stronger today.
‘That’s my boy,’ Frederick sighs. Oh boy, he sounds tired! That means I can sleep on his leg by the fire again. ‘I’m afraid we’ll both be seeing a lot more of her.’
It is still dark when I hear Frederick yelling.
I race up the stairs but the door is closed. I bark because I don’t know what else to do.
Let me in so I can help you!
Please someone help!
Frederick takes a few deep breaths. Eventually, he falls back to sleep. I can tell because I can hear him snoring. I fall asleep on the carpet outside his door, just in case. I am his and he is mine. Always.
I’ve made a mistake.
I thought the smell was coming from Frederick’s stomach. Today I noticed it was stronger when I was licking his face. They’re funny tubes coming out of his nose now. The lady with the bag put them there.
The smell, it’s coming from his chest.
I don’t know what to do. I licked his chest because that’s what I do when I have a wound.
The lady didn’t stay for very long today. She wasn’t smiling much either, but she smiled when I licked Frederick’s chest, so I must have done something right.
‘Silly dog,’ Frederick muttered. His voice sounded raspy.
‘That’s one smart dog you have there,’ said the lady. She patted Frederick’s shoulder then left the house. It was the last time I would see her.
Frederick’s home again! He woke up later today but it’s OK because he gave me extra biscuits. He knows how much I love biscuits!
By the time I finished breakfast, Frederick was asleep again. I didn’t mind. I pulled the blanket over him with my teeth and settled down next to him. I shot up at the sound of the postman and I told him to go away, knowing that he’d wake Frederick up.
But he didn’t. Frederick stayed asleep.
I cocked my head to one side and stared at the sleeping man who had taken care of me since I was a puppy, rescued me from the river. I had bitten him when he first fished me out of the algae-strewn waters, expecting him to hurt me, but boy was I wrong about him.
The raspiness from his breath had gone. I whimpered. Not because I wanted anything, but Frederick always wakes up when I whimper and I was sure that it would work.
I licked his hand. Nothing.
I paced the room. It’s how I do my best thinking. I thought of the look of delight that would be on Frederick’s face when he wakes up to see that I’m right beside him, like that morning where I slept outside his bedroom door when he was coughing, just in case he needed me.
I stopped pacing the front room and I jumped up onto the sofa and curled myself around Frederick’s cold feet. I will stay with him until he wakes. I know he’d do the same for me.
I am his, and he is mine, always.