Friend has been away now for what feels like days, but I know it hasn’t been. I’m sitting at the door, patiently awaiting his return.
Click, bang, that’s the car door! He’s home!
I jump to my feet and let out an excited bark or three as the door opens. He looms in the sunlight, face masked and hands gloved. He’s carrying several stuffed shopping bags. He shuts the door behind him with his booted foot and looks down at me with the usual kindness in his eyes. He’s happy to be home.
“Hey boy.” he intones lightly. I think he wants to pet me, but his hands are full. It’s okay, they’ll be empty soon.
He waddles into the kitchen and places the bags all at once on the table. I immediately butt my head against his hand. He gives me a few quick rubs and then takes off his mask and gloves. He tosses them onto the counter and turns to his shopping. He starts putting things back in their respective cupboard as I rub myself up against his leg.
He smiles and shakes his leg slightly. He wants me to leave him alone so he can concentrate. That’s okay. I’ll just wait here for him to be ready.
I wiggle my butt down to the floor as my tail wags back and forth. I can’t hide my excitement. Friend has been home so much lately, leaving for less time each day. I love spending time with my Friend. Maybe he’ll stop going away altogether soon.
As he’s putting things away, I notice the giant bag of food. Dog food! That’s for me! I yip and jump around, forgetting myself in my hunger. Friend laughs and shakes his head.
He puts the large bag with the other bags, then picks up the one that’s open and starts pouring a serving into a bowl. I run circles around him and it, waiting for it to be ready and nabbing any pieces that fall off the side. Eventually he stands back and I dig in.
I love my food.
After I’ve eaten more than half, Friend starts scruffing me behind the ears. It makes me want to stop eating, but I keep eating. I’m very hungry. I let him continue to scratch me. That feels good too.
I love my Friend.
“Alright buddy,” Friend takes a step back into the kitchen. He calls me Buddy sometimes, which sounds like my name. “I’m gonna go do some work now. Okay?” He gives me a smile and scratches my ears harder, meaning he’s going to go away for a bit. I moan softly. He just got back! I don’t want him to go again.
“No, no. It’s okay. I’ll just be in the other room. I gotta work from home now.” He gives me a few last scratches, and stands up, walking towards the door of his work room. I get it now. He wants to do some work.
He gently closes over the door behind him, but doesn’t shut it. He trusts me. I have always liked that about him. And so I trust him too. He respects me. He knows when not to shut me out.
Unfortunately, I do not trust myself. Before long, I’m lonely in the kitchen. I go to my bed and play with a toy for some time but I can’t stop thinking about Friend. He usually doesn’t spend a lot of time in his work room. I hope he’s okay.
I get up after destroying another stuffed toy and wander back to the kitchen. I sit in front of the door of his work room for some time. Eventually I stand up and ease open the door with my snout.
Friend is bent over his desk. He is sketching with his pencil. This is part of his work. I pad up to him softly and start rubbing myself up against his leg to get his attention. I feel lonely.
“Gah!” He is surprised by my presence. Oh, Friend! I didn't mean to frighten you. “Christ, Rudi.” That’s me! “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
He sighs deeply and looks back at his page. “Ugh, I messed up a line, hold on…” He does something I can’t see. I yap once. “Rudi, I love ya buddy, but I’m tryna get some work done. Just… gimme a bit okay?” He looks sad. But also he seems to be encouraging me in some way. “Like I said, I’ll play with you later. But right now, work time.”
Okay Friend, I get the message. I give him another few rubs against the leg and then trot back out the door. Now that I know that he is not abandoning me in his room, I can go about my day more peacefully. I am a happy dog today.
Hopefully, when he is finished with his work we can play. Oh, that would be nice. I love playing with my Friend.
Later, when he is done with his work, he emerges from his room. He looks tired, but as soon as he sees me his whole body lights up. “Come ‘ere, Rudi!” He runs to me, I run to him, and we land on the floor. He is laughing and rubbing me all over. I am yapping and licking him all over. I am overcome with joy.
We stay like that for a while, until eventually he grows tired. That’s okay. Everyone has their limit. I hop off him, walk in a circle and then sit down and look up at him over my snout. He lets out another deep sigh, but this one is happier. I can see the love in his eyes.
I hear a buzzing noise and go into high alert, but Friend quickly shushes me. “Just my phone, Rudi.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket and looks at it for a moment. He hops up to his feet excitedly. At times like these, he almost seems like a dog himself.
“Come with me.” He walks away, towards the stairs, and I follow. He goes into his bedroom and turns on his computer. I don’t know what he is planning. The computer confuses me. I pace in front of his bed as I wait for him to set up.
There is a short jingle and then something changes on the screen. Friend’s whole demeanour changes. He seems lighter. “There’s my sweetheart,” he breathes. Sweetheart? That’s the other person who lives in this house. But he has not been here for a while now.
“Hello darling.” That’s Sweetheart’s voice! And Darling is what he calls Friend, though I don’t know why. I stand up to my full height and see Sweetheart’s beaming face on the computer screen. There he is! I hop up on Friend’s lap to get a better view.
I let out a long howl at the sight of my other human friend. I have missed him. I want to ask Friend where he has been but I don’t know how. I rub my snout up against the screen, trying to touch Sweetheart’s face again. Friend laughs.
“Rudi wants to say hi too.”
“Hi Rudi.” Sweetheart waves at me from the screen. I wave back with a paw. “Awh, you precious thing! He remembers how to wave.”
“He misses you.” Friend makes use of my being on his lap and starts rubbing my back. I settle back against his chest. “I miss you.”
“I know. But I don’t know when I can get back.” Both of their tones have gotten sadder now. Maybe they are talking about why Sweetheart is only here on a small screen and not in person to give me back rubs too.
“Yeah. Of all the times for work to call you away from my loving embrace.” Friend spreads his hands out dramatically, but he quickly returns to rubbing my back.
Sweetheart rolls his eyes, but his voice does not sound upset, “Yeah.” He nods towards me, “At least you still have company.”
“Yeah. I’ll always have Rudi.” I rub my snout against his hand at the mention of my name. He laughs. There are tears in his eyes, but a smile on his face. “Isn’t that right, buddy?”
I bark. I love my Friend.