I didn’t know how hard it would hit me when mom left on her trip. We all knew mom had to go away for a week. Dad and my brother Dan were here with us almost the whole time. We were hardly ever alone.

But everything was different. Ash lost his swagger, Jack clung to Dan like a ship wrecked sailor clings to a life raft. I wandered in circles and spent a lot of time in my secret places.

Tess was the only one who didn’t much care that mom was gone. It meant more space for her on the couch.

Ash kept telling me not to worry. He said mom always comes home and then the fun begins. But I was so scared that mom wouldn’t come home. Maybe dad and Dan would think I was too much trouble. Maybe they would send me back to the shelter. Maybe it was the end of my dream life at Asherpark.

But yesterday Ash heard the sound of the car on the driveway. Mom burst through the door and everybody went nuts. Ash was barking his head off and grabbing stuff from the table. Jack was grinning like a fool. Naturally Tess had to be the center of attention and knocked me over trying to get to mom.

Mom tossed Ash the ball with one hand while she tried to pet the rest of us. I’m little and unsteady on my feet, but when mom knelt down to see me I pushed the bigger dogs out of the way. My one good eye got all teary and I couldn’t stop bouncing up and down.

After an hour things calmed down but I refused to leave mom. I followed her everywhere. I had so much energy I pulled the blanket off the couch and tossed Asher’s pet fox in the air.

Mom asked me to please lie down and rest, but I just couldn’t. I’ve got plenty of time to rest when I’m gone from this world. I wasn’t about to rest when I could be right next to mom.

Finally mom took us to the studio and sat down in a chair. She figured it was the only way that I would lie down. I guess she was right. I remember putting my head on my old crippled paws and within a minute I was asleep.

My dreams were troubled. I remembered the time of darkness when nobody cared what happened to me. I remembered being hungry and scared and hurt. I saw flashes of when I got hit by a car or somebody hit me. It wasn’t clear and all I could feel was the pain. I must have cried out in my sleep.

I awoke to mom softly rubbing my head. She whispered that I was safe and not to worry. She told me she wasn’t going away again for a long time. Then she slipped the most delicious dog cookie in my mouth. I nearly ate her finger by mistake, but she just laughed and told me it was time for dinner.

As I stumbled to the house for dinner, Ash gave me a gentle shoulder bump. “I told you she would come back,” he said. And Ash was right.


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