It was strange when I went out on a lead for the first time. I admit I did not like it much. I just wanted to run around but I kept being pulled back hard over and over again. Now I was outside on the roads. I had become used to our car but now there were hundreds of these strange machines, tearing by me . I did not like the smell and I did not like the noise but Boss would sit quietly on a bench with Bonnie and myself next to him, just simply sitting watching, and I soon came to know that they would not harm me as long as I never ran into the road.
As I grew bigger and bigger I did develop a bad habit. I did not mean to. It was just my natural exuberance and my eagerness to get to the fields or woods. I would pull very hard on my lead. After a while Mrs. Boss said that she could not cope with that anymore and even Boss said he felt that his shoulder was being wrenched out. So, one bright morning into the car I went and I was taken to a new place. There were quite a few other animals there accompanied by their humans We stood in a line waiting and then a very nice lady came along and spoke to each of us and patted us. Then outside into a small field. This lady would tell the humans what to do and they all tried to obey. I already knew how to sit and lie down when I was told but now I had to learn new things. I was put on a spot and told to “stay” whilst Boss walked away. I can only run to him when he told me to. I did my very best.
Lots of the other dogs were naughty and ran all over the place and I watched whilst embarrassed owners chased them and tried to make them do it over and over again. I was taught to walk “to heel” and be obedient even when off the lead. All of us animals were given little treats when we did things the humans liked and my favourites were pieces of dried liver and cheese. Every so often we would return to this place and it got more and more exciting. I made friends with lots of the other dogs and eventually we were given something else to do, something that I loved. We could run through tunnels, jump over bars, run up and down ramps and through hoops. I loved this part most of all. Boss even made me something on a smaller scale in our garden at home and I would spend hours with either Boss or Mrs. Boss doing the things I had learned at that other place. I did not pull on my lead anymore, I no longer felt the need to.
It lasted quite a time but as the warm weather faded and the days became shorter and much colder, I made my last visit there. I had, apparently, learned all I ever needed to know. That last morning, all the humans were dressed up in fancy hats decorated with some shiny stuff I heard them call “tinsel”. We went through all we had learned. All of us dogs had to do it individually and then in a little competition with all the animals involved. At the end, the lady came over to me and stroked and hugged me. She handed a piece of paper to Boss and pinned something on my collar. Boss seemed very pleased.
When we returned home, Boss told Mrs. Boss and she hugged me and gave me a special treat to eat. I did not know why they were so happy. After all, I had just done something I enjoyed very much and could not see why they were making such a fuss. However, I heard Mrs. Boss telling everyone that I had come “first in my class“, whatever that meant and she put the red thing that had been pinned to my collar on the wall. I was just pleased that they were happy. We never returned to that place and now and again I wondered about the friends I had met there and hoped they were happy.
Directly after all this had happened, there was great excitement in the house for the second time in my life. I had seen it once before but I was only little and did not take a lot of notice. Boss went and got lots and lots of boxes and Mrs. Boss dived into each one bringing out strange glittery things, bright and shiny which she then proceeded to place all around the room, indeed, all around the house. A big tall thing was put in place. It looked the same shape as a tree but it did not smell like a tree. I could not make it out. Things were hung all over this tree looking thing and at night it glowed! I liked it, it made me feel very cosy and secure. We would have visitors to the house including the young couple I had met on my first journey home. I had come to know them as Becky and Dean and they were very close indeed to Boss and Mrs. Boss. I got to know the sound of their car and Mrs. Boss would say “Becky’s here” and I would run excitedly to the door in greeting.
They were always so pleased to see me and I loved them almost as much as I loved Boss and Mrs. Boss. Then, one evening, lots of strange packages were place around the tree that was not a tree and I was told “not to touch”. Bonnie had seen it all many times before and whispered to me that I was in for a lovely treat the next morning.
The next morning arrived and our home was filled with an air of excitement. Boss and Mrs. Boss would hand some of those packages to each other and they both seemed happy and hugged each other. Then Boss delved into the pile of remaining packages and brought out some of them. I was given one of them, Bonnie another and the cats had their own. I was excited and sniffed at mine and pawed at it. They helped me open in. Inside were two new toys and lots and lots of good things to eat. I would run up and down the hallway with a toy in my mouth making it squeak until I was tired out. Bonnie and I always wore tinsel around our collars on that day. I detected wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. Then Mrs. Boss would take something out of a square thing and I could feel the heat coming from and hear a sizzling noise. We animals had to wait patiently until this sizzling thing, called “a chicken” cooled down and then Boss would pull it to pieces and we each got a big bowl of this delicious meat. We were all so full and so happy. Then Boss and Mrs. Boss would sit down with Becky and Dean to eat their own food.
There was lots of laughter and the humans put silly things on their heads and giggled. The only bit of this day (which I came to know as Christmas) that I did not like was when they took some things out of a box, passed them around and then “pulled” them. They made a loud crack and I hated it. I would put my tail down and run away. They would pat me and tell me not to be afraid but I just did not like them. They reminded me of days when it seemed as dark as evening and it rained hard and the sky would make flashes and loud bangs. I hated that. The worst time of the year came before this happy glittery time. Loud bangs filled the air, bright lights but it was not like when the it was raining. This went on for hours, sometimes every evening for days. Endless bangs and flashes. It made me shake and shiver. I could never understand why humans like to make things bang and I never got used to it.