What is a boy without a dog!
I'll tell you what he is: he's an incomplete boy.
We found Bandit as a stray puppy, maybe two months old and starving, wandering around the trailer park next to where my dad docked his boat. She was a lab mutt, white-chested and otherwise black with chestnut eyes. Pop wanted to kill her. Mom let us take her home. My bro and I were three and four, resp., and I can tell you it was a summer afternoon, we were in my Pop's un-air-conditioned white Chevy, and I rode in the truck bed with bro and me holding her while we sat on the fenderwells.
Funny how many animals pop up in my stories who look like Bandit. I even created a black bear with a lightning bolt chest, just like hers.
She got wet or dry same as us. When she had puppies, and she had lots of litters, she left her pups to fend themselves if her boys needed her. She brought us rabbits as kill, and Lord could that dog run! You should have seen her shoot under that barbed wire if there was a rabbit in front of her. She once swam a good ways across the lake because we thought we could leave her on the pier. We didn't leave her after that.
A while back, I wrote this for my dog Bandit as an exercise in POV. For you, girl. RIP.
She smelled rabbits. Lots of rabbits. Maybe a family. Baby rabbits for sure.
She looked back and saw her boys. They called her, but she didn't have time. Rabbits. Lots of rabbits.
Oak leaves and pine needles crunched under her feet. She heard more crunching and stopped. She looked. Her boys, walking this way. One of them kissed his lips together and called her: "Bandit."
She stuck her nose to the ground and circled a huge oak. The trail wound past the oak, between two pines, through a flurry of light underbrush. She stopped and smelled the air. Her boys smelled close. The rabbits smelled closer.
She heard a tiny noise in the underbrush. She put her nose to the ground. The scent burned her nose.
Under the log. She heard them clicking as they breathed. Her back tingled when she crouched. Balancing on three legs, she stepped closer. Inches at a time. Not to scare them. She smelled a dozen rabbits at least. She swallowed hard.
One of her boys grabbed the back of her neck. It startled her and she turned.
"Bad dog. Come on, leave them alone." Her boy patted his leg and called to her as he walked deeper into the woods.
She looked under the log. A dozen tiny eyes stared back at her. A whole family down there.
But her boys wanted her to follow them. She barked once, at the rabbits. Then she turned and ran after her boys.