The morning starts like every other morning in the new yellow house. When I make my quiet yipping sounds, the human who smells like warm happiness and sleep, comes to me, opens my crate, and pets me.
She rubs my back with her strong fingers. It feels like heaven.
Out into the backyard, which sometimes smells like skunk or something else wild and terrible, but wonderful too, she tells me “potty!” and I pee. She brings treats in her pocket and they are delicious and peanut buttery and they smell like her too. I eat them quickly in case she decides to give me more.
Back inside, she feeds me from her warm hand, sitting in the kitchen while it is still dark. I slurp up the kibble from her salty fingers until it is gone. I always look for more.
It’s then that she gets the blue leash and tells me “sit!” and when I do she puts the leash on me and takes me out into the wild cold world in front of the yellow house. While she slips her shoes on, I steal another shoe from the porch, carrying it to the springy bushes, where I chew furiously, before she takes it away. She pretends to hate this but I see the way her eyes look, friendly happy eyes, and her voice, which sounds like happy love.
Down the walkway we go then, and around the circle we walk, me smelling the grass, her always cold, even though I am the one in the wet weeds. The best part is the smells. I try to drag her faster, farther, but she walks slowly, firmly, holding me back.
It’s when we reach the end of the circle, ready to cross, that the little girl comes out of her house across the street. We hear her before we see her. First the sound of the golden halo of light clicking on beside the door. Then the rattle of the knob, and the creak of the screen and the little girl with short choppy hair emerges, usually with a toy in her hand, something I’d like to chew. Her mom is right behind her, with coffee in hand and a bag on her shoulder. She feels tired and hurried and sad.
But I never look at her. I look instead at the little girl, who must smell like peanut butter and dirty feet and sunshine. And she looks back at me. Stops right where she is halfway down the path. Reaches out her hand toward me.
I can feel her joy, so excited to see me. I am excited too and my whole body shakes, my tail wagging so hard it almost knocks me over, so that she will know how very much I want to meet her.
But my human stands like a tree, unmoving, across the street from the golden light and the wonderful little girl. I pull harder and bark.
Then I hear the little girl’s voice, ringing out clear and loud through the dark silence of the early morning. “Can I please pet your puppy?!”
The golden sun is rising now and birds are beginning to sing.
And I feel the way my human sags a little, the way sadness seeps out of her as she answers.
“I’m sorry, not right now. We’re not supposed to get too close right now.”
And while I wag desperately the little girl’s mother hurries her down the walkway and into her car while my human just stands, still and resolute.
The car roars to life and the little girl, still watching me, zooms away down the road, away from our little circle.
The light by her porch clicks off.
And we are still standing, feet wet, in the beautiful quiet silence.
My human talks to me then in her soft gentle voice, “it’s okay, Teddy, we’ll meet her soon.”
And slowly, we begin to walk again, less joyful this time than before.