I opened my eyes when I felt Popsy's chair move. He was standing up and saying something to Momsy. When I heard him say, “I’m off,” I sprang to my feet, barking and whining. Popsy was leaving? What if he didn't come back? What would I do? I ran to the door, and flopped down across it. No way was he leaving without me! But he grabbed my collar and told me to stand up. “Sorry, Trav,” he said, “you can’t come with me. We’ll go for a walk together later. All three of us.” I didn’t understand all of the words, but I wagged my tail anyway. “You take him,” Popsy called out to Momsy, and she came over to hold my collar as he left the apartment.
I sulked the whole time Popsy was gone - I couldn’t understand why I had to stay behind. I lay down across the doorway, determined to be the first to greet Popsy the instant he came back. I ignored Momsy completely, and pretended that I was asleep when she knelt down beside me and spoke to me softly as she stroked my head. Her touch felt nice, but I was mad at her for letting Popsy leave without me. Finally, she stood up and said, “Have it your way, then,” and walked away.
I don’t know how long Popsy was gone, but it felt like forever. After a while, I must have really fallen asleep, because I suddenly heard a noise right outside the apartment. I leaped to my feet just in time to avoid being hit by the door as it swung open. And there stood Popsy! In one arm, he was holding a big sack that smelled like something good to eat. A bag with a couple of strange bulges hung from his other hand. He stepped inside and handed everything to Momsy, so that he could take off his boots and coat. “The pet shop said this is a good food for a dog his size,” he told her. “There’s a leash and a few other things in that bag.”
Momsy put the sack of food on the kitchen counter, and set the bag on a chair. I decided to help her empty the bag, and stuck my head right inside. I found something big and round, and picked it up in my mouth. As my jaws closed around it, the thing squeaked! I pulled my head out of the bag and raced all over the apartment, squeezing the round thing with my jaws and making it squeak. “Bring it here, Traveler,” Popsy called out, laughing. “Bring the ball here.” A ball! That’s what it was - a ball. I had never had a ball before. The Mister didn’t believe in toys. While Popsy and I chased around the apartment with the ball, Momsy removed something else from the bag. Curious, I trotted over to investigate. It smelled like the harness that The Mister used to put on his horses. I loved the smell, although I missed the overlay of horse-scent. I licked it; it tasted pretty good, too.
Momsy pushed my head away. "Don't eat your new leash," she said, and reached into the bag again. “Here. Popsy got you something to chew on.” She handed me a hard bone-shaped object that smelled sort of like cow. I picked it up and carried it to the far corner of the living room. Circling a few times to find the perfect spot, I lay down with the chew thing between my front paws and went to work on it. After a while, I felt pleasantly sleepy; my eyelids drooped, and I drifted into a dream.
I was back on the farm, sleeping in the barn. I could hear the horses snorting and nickering in their sleep, and the cattle were lowing. The barn cat was curled up at the far end of the barn. He and I had worked out an arrangement; we slept as far apart as we could, and ignored each other most of the time. The straw tickled my nose, and I sneezed; the cat meowed in protest. That got my dander up, and I growled. The cat hissed, and spat in my direction. That was too much for me. I got up and headed over to the cat. He saw me coming and ran off. I gave chase. We had an exciting round of catch-me-if-you-can, knocking over milking pails, and creating a fine ruckus, until The Mister came in, his leather belt in hand. “Enough,” he yelled. “Pipe down, Traveler, or I’ll take my belt to you.” I cringed, and settled back down on the straw.
I must have whimpered out loud, because the next thing I knew, Popsy was on his knees beside me. “Are you all right, Pooch?” he asked, as he stroked me gently. “Bad dream, boy?” I raised my head, and reached up to lick his face. “Ready to go for a walk, Traveler?” he asked. I jumped up, tail wagging and tongue hanging out the side of my mouth. Momsy and Popsy already had put on their outside clothes, and Popsy snapped my new leash onto my collar. Momsy grabbed the squeaky ball, and we went over to the small room that Popsy called an elevator. I wasn’t as scared of the elevator this time, although I crouched down when I felt the floor start to move. The three of us went outside through a different door from the one that Popsy and I had entered the night before. In front of us was a field of snow, and I could tell by the smell that we were right near the river. Popsy unclipped the leash from my collar, and I ran off a little way to take care of business before zooming around in big circles - something I hadn’t done since I was a puppy. It was great to be outdoors. The snow was soft, and I kept sinking in it up to my chest.
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