|My name is Max. And I have a story to tell you.
When I was just a little pup, I was put into a shelter with all of my litter mates. We were all scared because it was a strange place with lots of strange smells, and even a lot of the grown up dogs were scared. Before long, all of my litter mates got adopted, but I was left behind. One of the other puppies said he heard that dogs that got left too long got taken into a room where they never came out. Maybe I had been here too long, I worried. Maybe they'll make me go into that room. But the day finally came when a nice lady took me home with her. She told me I was a birthday present for herself.
Her home was new to me, and I was nervous. There were lots of scary things around I had never seen. There were lots of monsters everywhere, but I soon figured out that they did things for her. The big lumpy monsters in the main room were ones she sat on. I really hated the roaring monsters in the closet, but if my mom fed one of them my bed, the other one would spit it out clean. There was one monster that I never figured out why she had him. It made these awful screaming noises, and it would chase me. Sometimes I ran and hid, but sometimes I would try to be brave and chase it and growl at it. The lady would just laugh and make it go somewhere else.
Before long, I considered the lady to be my adopted momma. I barely remember my real momma, but I remember that she was warm and she kept me clean and full and safe. This lady was also warm to cuddle with, and she fed me and took care of me, and I loved her like I loved momma. We went on walks together, she played with me, and we did all sorts of good things like that. Sometimes she tried to give me a bath, and I hated them! I would thrash around and try to get out of the water, but momma encouraged me to stay there, and so I tried my best to be still.
I grew quickly. Momma would coo over me and tell me how big I had gotten. She told me that she thought that I was part Labrador Retriever and part German Shepherd, but I didn't really know what that meant. Sometimes, when we would go out for walks, I could sense that some people made momma nervous. One day, I realized that I should protect her from those people. Once, a man came too close, and I could smell that momma was scared. He was a big man, baring all of his teeth, but it didn't seem nice like when momma did it. He smelled funny too, like smoke and anger. He reached his arm up to touch her, and the next thing I knew, I had sprung in the air and grabbed his arm. The man started to yell, and momma backed away, but not too far away from me. The man hit me hard in the head. I heard momma shout, and I tried to hang on, but my jaws were just not strong enough, and I fell to the ground. The man turned and ran. I started to chase him, but momma called me back, and I felt I needed to check to see if she had been hurt. She was fine, but she took me to the vet, then to talk to the police. Most of them said what a good dog I was and petted me on the head or shoulder. I just wanted to get momma back home.
Nothing that scary happened again for a long time. Momma and I went about our quiet lives. She spent a lot of time in front of a box, and she would hit the buttons in front of it. When I tried to get her to play when she was there, she said she was sorry, but she had to work. But she would take breaks, and we would play ball in the back yard or tug-o-war in the living room. We still went for our walks, but not many people bothered momma. Sometimes people would talk to her, but they usually didn't make her nervous, and sometimes they would even stop to pet me. One time, a lady that was pushing some kind of basket stopped to talk to her. I looked in the basket, and I saw the weirdest little creature. It smelled like the people, but it was very little, and it didn't make the same kind of sounds, except for laughing. The people sometimes bared their teeth and made a sound they call a laugh, and it meant they were happy. This little creature didn't have any teeth, but it made the same noise, so I decided it wouldn't hurt momma. Momma picked it up and the way she held it I realized that this was a puppy human! I reached my nose up and snuffled the little human pup, and it laughed again. I decided that it would be okay if momma found a mate and had a litter of puppies.
Many years passed, and they were very pleasant, even though momma didn't find a mate to have puppies with like I thought she should. However, when I was about six years old, momma got another puppy--a dog, not a human--and said that I should help her train him. I decided that I would do my best. At first, the puppy just slept a lot. Momma even had to feed it out of a bottle because it was so little. She named him Mickey. She said it was because he was little and black, but with huge ears, but I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. When Mickey started teething, he liked to chew on my ears, and oh, how I hated that! A couple of times, I growled at him, but momma didn't like that. I wasn't going to hurt him, but it still made momma nervous, so I stopped. He was little enough that I could just put my paw on him instead. The little brat would wriggle and cry, but he soon learned not to chew on my ears. Within a few months, he was strong enough that he actually made a good playmate. We would wrestle, but I'd have to be careful with him because momma wanted me to, and I always wanted to please momma more than anything else.
Not too long ago, a man broke into our home. He was rifling through momma's things when I woke up. This man smelled scary, but I needed to protect our home. Mickey woke up but was in his kennel, so he couldn't come to help. In the end, I was glad of this. I stalked the man, and he didn't see me until right before I sprang. I went for his arm, but I missed. So I flipped around and jumped again, this time toward his throat. I heard a loud bang, but it didn't deter me from my target.
Momma woke up, and she screamed when she saw what was happening. She ran back to her bedroom with the little device she sometimes talks to. Mickey went crazy, trying to get out of his kennel, barking and growling the whole time. I was proud that I had taught him to be a good guard dog, but I was glad he was in the kennel. He was still a pup after all, even if he was already half-grown.
I continued to wrestle with the man. He hit me in the side a couple of times, but he didn't go for my head like the man last time, so I didn't let go. I sensed the metallic taste of blood seeping into my mouth, and at first I was confused, but then my instincts from my ancestors took over, and I gripped harder, getting ready to rip out the man's throat. However, before I could finish my kill, a group of men burst into the apartment. I wasn't sure how I would protect momma from all of them. But two of the men pulled me away from the man I was on and picked up that man. Momma wasn't at all afraid of the new men, so my protective instincts died down.
Momma was crying, and I didn't understand because the danger was now gone. She pulled me into her lap, and as the adrenaline receded and my pumping blood slowed, I realized that I couldn't move. Pain filled my body. I smelled blood again, but this time it was my own. Momma snuggled me close and told me what a great dog I was. I tried to reach up and snuffle my nose in her hair. I couldn't move my head, and I could only manage a wheezing breath.
In only a couple of moments, the sounds of the home faded, and a cloud came over me. When the cloud cleared, I could see momma clinging to my lifeless body, her tears staining her cheeks and my fur. I thought I should be sad, but I had no feeling of anything, except for love for my momma. I was proud because I had protected her, and she was safe.
I reached what the people call heaven, and now God gives me my favorite treats and pats on my head. I can still look down and see momma and Mickey, and I can see that they are safe and okay. I would say that I miss them, but in this place I can only feel love for them, and God tells me that someday I can have them back with me.