Dino’s Story

This is me, Dino, on the back of a chair.
Because every aspiring celebrity auto-dog-ographer needs one, this is my back-up writer and editor, Beatrice J. Hesley. She helps me with my spelling and stuff like that.


My name is Dino, and this is my story. Actually, my name is a story all by itself. I guess I’ll start there and make it as brief as I can.

I was a few months old before I really had this name, Dino. I was born in Texas, not far from the Mexican border. I’ve heard it said that my ancestors originated in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. My parents lived with a couple, Norm and Ruth, who hailed from way up north. They referred to it as the Northern Midwest. On December 13th, 2011, my mother gave birth to me and five more of my siblings within a few hours. She was a great mom and sure had her paws full with six of us squirmy, wiggly newborns, to clean, cuddle and feed. Our dad encircled us with his love and that was all we really needed from him. We could tell he really cared about mom. Knowing that made all of us feel secure. Of course, mom and dad already knew they were safe and secure because big, tall Norm, in his farmer jeans, and his wife, Ruth, were my parents’ protectors. We began to thrive and grow big enough to be outside in the sunshine, in a box by ourselves.

I remember that first special “market day” – I heard passers by calling it, specifically a “flea market day.” Just about every passer by would look into our box and croon over what they were seeing. There were six of us robust, healthy puppies.

One day, after the market was finished for the day, Ruth was very alarmed to discover that there were only four of us, that two were missing. She never asked me why or what had happened to my fun-loving, adorable siblings. I tried to stop those big human paws from reaching into the box, clutching the puppies and disappearing with them into the crowd, but I didn’t even have all of my teeth yet. After that happened, we four really worked hard to protect each other.

Chapter 2

When we were about six weeks old, Norm and Ruth had an emergency which caused them to leave south Texas and head north for their home. Who would have believed they would just up and leave and take mom and dad with them and leave all four of us with a “perfect stranger?” We slowly began to understand that we had, in fact, been left behind. Maybe we understood because of our own dog-sense or through comments drifting into our sensitive ears from passers by. Could it be that we were only products of a “puppy mill,” as some of those comments suggested? Did that mean that we were worth less or worth more? We sniffed it out together.

Wow, our “togetherness” didn’t last long. This “perfect stranger” saw to that. No doubt she loved us as well as her four other dogs, as though we were part of the family. She made flea market days extra special. It seemed as though she knew every passer by and they knew her as well. Though she had been almost blind and deaf most of her life, it didn’t stop her from being the nearly perfect stranger. She may be a stranger, but not for long.

Something troubled us. We soon realized, from her words to the passers by, and to our sensitive ears, that we were “up for adoption.” Now, what did that mean? It made us feel a little uneasy, but we were still so young and unease was new to us, so we continued, in our innocence, to tumble about and chew our tails or toys or blankets. We only sometimes pondered a “puppy mill … mom and dad gone … worth more or worth less … up for adoption.” We didn’t have any answers to the questions, so we yapped and napped in the sunshine.

Chapter 3

One morning I woke up and couldn’t find my sister. I searched and sniffed as far as I could, but I was fenced in and couldn’t get out. This time, I was alarmed! She was gone. My brothers and I couldn’t find her. We cried and whined and barked to her, but she didn’t come running to us. We began to snuffle to each other, to share our sorrow over the loss. Maybe we shouldn’t have teased her quite so much. Maybe she didn’t know we only meant to play and have fun. Maybe she had hurt feelings and felt like we were picking on her. Maybe she thought we were bullies and didn’t like her, and she couldn’t take it anymore. But then we would remember how she would sometimes playfully bark and growl back at us. Where had she gone? She was so cute, tiny and petite, similar to our little brother. He is very small too, and feisty.

Chapter 4

Not long afterward, our little brother was missing from our play area. All three of us had been playing together, but our perfect stranger’s friend stopped by, as she had many times before. She always seemed to favor my little brother above the other two of us. She would say, “Come here little fella and let me love on you.”

What? What did that mean? We didn’t know, so we would all run to her, but she always preferred and only wanted our little brother. She would scoop him up in her big paws -I mean, hands- and cuddle him so closely I’d wonder how he could even breathe. He seemed to really like her to hold him. He would snuggle up to her in a way that would remind me of how he used to cuddle up to mom and begin to eat before the rest of us could figure out where we could fit and have lunch. Those were some of the best lunches and the best of times. That was before mom and dad had to leave.

Speaking of leaving, our little brother left that day in the paws -oops, I mean hands- of a new stranger. She kept calling our little brother “Jake,” while petting him and cooing. I could hear her say, “You’re so cute. You are going to love having a little step-sister.” What did she say? A step-sister? Could she be talking about my little sister? Take me too, please. I miss her. I want to tell my sister I am sorry. I heard this new stranger tell Jake his new step-sister’s name is Chiquiquita. Chi-qui-quita? I just thought she might be my little sissy, but “Chiquiquita?” Well, I still wish I could go too. Now, it’s just you and me, brother, and I am the big brother. “Oh no,” brother said, “we’re the same size. Our only difference? I’m a different color.”

My brother, Blackie, and me.

Color? Oh yes, that is another clue we gathered from the passers by. They would say, “The tan one is cute, but so is this little black one,” while lifting my brother. So, of course, I must be tan, or brown, or reddish golden tan. I rather liked those added adjectives, although I didn’t know that’s what they were. To me, they only made me aware it wasn’t my brother’s size that made us different, it was our color, black or tan. No, reddish golden tan. That really does have a rich sound and makes me feel as though maybe I am worth more, not less. My little brother and sister were exactly that, little. Now I know my brother isn’t bigger. He’s just black, and black is good.

Chapter 5

John and Jenny came by almost daily to pick my brother up, to hold him awhile, and to visit with our perfect stranger, whose name was Nina. One day they said, “Blackie, we want you to go home to live with us. Do you want to go?” They took him with them that day. They all left without saying goodbye. “Do you want to go?” That’s what I remember before John and Jenny took Blackie with them. I didn’t know then that they would not be bringing him back. In fact, later I heard Nina say they were planning to take him with them to live in another country, Canada. When she said that, I felt that familiar feeling, unease, and that was because I thought I might never see him again.

Chapter 6

I won’t lie. I really do miss that brother of mine, even though he sometimes acted like maybe he was worth more than me. When he did, it didn’t really bother me. You have probably guessed by now that Nina was enough for me. She sometimes put me on her lap after I had eaten my lunch, which always made me feel happy and nappy, and I remember falling asleep, feeling warm, and not just warm from the sunshine, but warm even inside of me.

Something else, a big something else, happened at that time. Nina’s many friends often stopped by to visit. When they gathered on other than market days, it was very different. I noticed that they all stayed longer, talked more, and that I might get passed around the circle from first one, then another, and on to another. I never became familiar with them because they would take me out of Bea’s hands, briefly pass me around, and then I would end up back with her. I guess that’s when I learned the word hands, not paws. And I realized that Nina called her Bea. My dog sense seemed to tell me that it was ok to let her hold me the way she did. It was very much the way that other stranger held my little brother, Jake. I remember he liked it, and now I like it too. That indescribable feeling of unease seems to be filling up with something else. I just don’t know what it is yet.

Chapter 7

One of Nina’s other dogs, not from my immediate family, is very tiny, especially cute, and even smaller than my little sister. For some reason, she reminds me of my sister and makes me wonder where my sister is and if she has a name. Could it be Chiquiquita? It would be nice to know. My thoughts wandered off from what I was telling you about Nina’s black Chihuahua. That’s what we call her. I guess I’m much bigger than Chihuahuas usually are, and I am not black. Bea calls her an Egyptian princess. What is that? She always talks about the tiny one’s long, slender neck. She looks regal, like a princess. I know this: she acts like a misbehaving Chihuahua dog, especially when, for no reason, she runs away, and Nina calls and calls and leaves me in a fenced pen to go search for her. I try to tell Nina that I know where she is, but she doesn’t understand, so I wait to see if she will look in the first place I would think of, Bea’s place. I think I would run there too, if I ever considered leaving Nina. Oh yes, that’s almost always where she’s found. She tells me about it when she comes back, and tells me why she likes to go there. She always describes it with such excitement that I’m never surprised when she does it again.

The Egyptian princess, dressed like one, in pink.

Chapter 8

Day by day my dog sense was helped along by the spoken words my very sensitive ears were hearing. Oh, and speaking of ears, there must be something different about mine. I feel that unease again when I hear, from passers by: “See how his one ear stays up so perfectly, but the other just stays folded down,” or something like that. At least I know by their words that one was up and one was down and something about it made me different. Does that make me “worth more or worth less … puppy mill … up for adoption …” would those words ever go away? Add all of that to the facts that I don’t even have a name, that I’m still here, and not one person has said, “Want to go home with me?”

That’s ok. I like being here with Nina. Sometimes I lick her hand to let her know. She seems to understand me when I do that. She gently touches my head and I’m filled with that new, warm inside feeling for a minute. Maybe it’s “worth more.” The “puppy mill” fades away for a minute, as does “up for adoption.” It makes me feel as though I can rest for awhile and even take a nap. What more do I need? I have food if I am hungry, and my own place among all the others to sleep at night. I have a place among the others except Chloe, that is. She is really touchy! Her space is her own and she has a “back off and touch-me-not” attitude. But as I started to say, sometimes the other three cuddle around and comfort me. They have a lot of dog sense and know how much I miss my brothers and little sister. I still wonder where she is. Sometimes it seems I can almost smell her. I’d recognize her smell, for sure, if she ever came anywhere near. I’ll never forget her or my brothers. I think I failed to let her know how special she was. And then she was gone. Maybe she and Jake are together.

Chapter 9

Life just goes on happening. Passers by say, “He sure is getting big,” or, “He’s growing so fast, and those ears!” Nina assures me that my ears give me character, and the way she says it makes me feel warm inside. I really like that warm inside feeling. If I knew how to speak and really be understood, I would let her know, but I don’t know how, so I just lick her hand again, and she pats my head, and that is enough. I could maybe take a nap.

As I think back, I had just settled into Nina’s lap, maybe with even one eye closed, when I suddenly lifted my head, sat up, and tried to raise both ears, but succeeded with only one. I sniffed and I think I even snuffled a bit. For sure I saw, heard, and smelled Bea, and I was learning to recognize her look, her voice and her smell. Sometimes her smell was different and she fooled me. I think she said it was JPG, Jean Paul Gaultier? I didn’t get all that, about perfume and stuff, but I did get this: Bea said, “My son keeps me supplied.” Nina said, “I’m going to marry that boy when I grow up.” What? You both look grown up to me. But so does just about everyone I see here in the market. Occasionally a smaller one appears, and I think they call it a “child,” or sometimes a “kid.” I like “child” better. I see someone I’ve seen before, and I smell a familiar smell, a smell I had said I could never forget.

Chapter 10

That smell startled me awake. Is it possible? Now that I’m awake, both of my ears are struggling to get up. I try to tell Nina that I want down. She’s holding me very tightly. She won’t let me go. I wiggle and squirm and do everything I know to do except use my new sharp teeth, but every time I playfully nibble Nina, she says “no,” and taps my head instead of patting it. I’ve learned not to bite. I would never hurt Nina on purpose, and right now I feel full of purpose. I really want to be let down. I want to see if I can trust my nose.

They were gone before Nina let go of me and lowered me safely into my fenced-in play area. Chloe sniffed and growled at me, but the other three gathered around and snuffled me. They could tell I was troubled, and they were right. I was left to myself and to my wonderings. Maybe I’m all wrong. Maybe it was only my imagination. It’s possible, I suppose, but I also have something inside that knows that I know. I really have smelled that smell before. It’s the wonderful smell of my little sister. I’m sure it is. I wonder where she went. Maybe Bea knows. I’ll wait until she comes again. Maybe she will tell Nina who that person was and where they went. If I find out, I might run away, like the Egyptian princess does.

Chapter 11

The next time Bea came over, Nina called her “Bea.” It wasn’t like calling, “Come here, Bea, you’re so cute, you’re so sweet. Wanna go home with me,” kind of calling, but simply “Hi, Bea.” And Bea did something similar, she said, “Hi, Nina.” I learned something new that feels warm inside. I don’t know why. I feel warm when Nina says, “I’ll get the little guy.” I like that better than when she used to say, “I’ll get the pup.” Somehow that always reminded me of “puppy mill.”

After she so gently picked me up from our fenced play pen, she would hand me to Bea and say, “Chippy needs a playmate and this little guy needs a home. You need to hold him more so you can bond.” For some reason, when she did that, and said those words, my warm inside feeling would almost disappear and I would remember “up for adoption.” Even though she never said those words, somehow, inside, I knew. I wasn’t sure about “bond,” but if it had anything to do with snuffling and feeling warmer inside and less about puppy mills and worth more or less or missing my brothers and my little sister, then I think I really like bonding. I already have a plan. If Bea asks, “Want to go home with me?,” I plan to lick her hand and maybe she will understand that I am letting her know that I want to go with her.

Bea holds me and we bond.

Do you wonder why I would be anxious to do that -leave Nina and all the others? I had a feeling Bea might take me to that spot where she was talking to someone the other day and maybe the smell would still be there.

I’ve met Chippy already. Bea brought her to Nina’s sometimes. For the most part, Chippy, seemed well adjusted to life, and she had adjusted without my help. So maybe Nina’s suggestion that Chippy needed a playmate wasn’t entirely accurate. Chippy sure didn’t act very needy. In fact, she seemed rather aloof to me, and clingy with Bea. The plan is maybe Bea will ask me if I want to go with her. Then she will scoop me up, hold me close, and take me to that spot. Maybe that other lady will stop by and say, “Hi, Bea,” and I will sniff and snuffle and work hard to lift both ears and maybe, just maybe, the lady will have my little sister with her.

When I was a puppy, sometimes I chewed my blanket.

Chapter 12
17 February 2012

Soon thereafter, that is what happened. Bea asked me that question, “Want to go with me?” I licked her hand, to signal my agreement, and she carried me a short distance to her tidy, inviting, cozy little camper. I liked it there! I sniffed and snuffled all around and felt warm inside, especially when she handed me to her son, Matthew. When I felt his hands around my body and he held me close to his chest and scratched my floppy ear, it was like having a warm bath in liquid love. I don’t know how I knew that then, but that’s how I remember it now, and it’s always the same every time he holds me, with his arms around me as I lay my head and snuggle my body over his shoulder and into the curve of his neck. I could just howl with delight, or maybe purr like Nina’s kitten, but I don’t really know how to purr. Oh yes, Nina has kittens at her place too.

I think it’s settled. My plan was successful and it worked! I’ve been “adopted.” Now I wonder what comes next. I’m sure that many surprises await me and, however hard I try, I can’t plan for everything. For instance, I’m unsure about Chippy. She’s been here with this Marvelous Master Matthew, his mom, Bea, and his dad, who I will call Papa, for a long time, even before I was born. I wonder if Chippy, who, by the way, can keep both of her ears pointing perfectly upward, even when she sleeps, can feel what I feel when he holds her. Anyway, I hope she knows that I only want to be her big brother. I am bigger, after all. And I think I’m already learning to not always tease, because too much teasing, I’ve noticed, causes others to become annoyed, or even miserable, and then they go away. Thinking about that, of others going away, makes me miss my little sister, who did go away. I wish I could see her and tell her that I’m sorry.

As I look around, sniffling and snuffling, I’m having a hard time deciding where I should lie down to sleep at night, or where the best place is to take my afternoon naps. It’s good that both Chippy and I are small, though she is smaller, because this camper is cramped. I might try to find a spot next to Chippy. She’s always in the back with Papa, who likes her to be next to him. He’s got two sides. Maybe he would let me be beside him too. I used to be pretty good at finding a place at mom’s belly to eat lunch when all of us pups were still together with mom and dad. That sure seems long ago. I remember how delicious those lunches were. They were the best.

I find a spot near Chippy …
and then we take a nap.

Chapter 13

Did I mention that this new home where I am now living is just right for my size? If and when I think I need to get away and have some time and space for me, I have a few choices, such as on the chair by the camper’s door or under Bea’s bed. Once there was a table where her bed is now. There’s a little cubby-hole beneath her bed and I only need little spaces. The cubby-hole is a perfect place for me to hide during scary thunderstorms. Otherwise, Bea invites me to join her on the bed, where she’s often reading, knitting or texting on her cell phone.

I stand on the camper chair for a minute …
but settle on a small space, by myself, on Bea’s bed

I’m feeling better about being adopted. I’m starting to realize that I really am worth more, not less. There is one thing that troubles me about me, though. I am quite a talker. I talk a lot. I can listen too, but talking seems to come more naturally, and it’s harder for me to control. In case you don’t understand, let me explain by saying that if I’ve been napping and I happen to be startled awake by a knock on the door, I must let someone know that I know, so I talk-bark, loudly and excitedly, until I realize that someone else does know, and I’m told I’ve done a good job of notifying them, and they will take care of it. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if nobody did take care of it, if nobody answered the door. What should I do? Should I keep barking, or should I growl? Maybe, if I could get both ears up at the same time, I could look more serious. Oh dear, I do hope that I never have to bark more than a few times.

Chapter 14

Speaking of my need to bark, there is a person (that’s another good word I’ve learned, person, and I learned it by listening) who often knocks on the door to talk to Papa or Mom Bea, that’s what I call her now, Mom Bea. When he comes for a visit, he usually brings me a little treat. I like that. That’s very nice. I’m always happy, in fact I’m beyond happy to the point of overjoyed, to see him because there’s something else. He has a certain smell. I sniffle and snuffle and wiggle around. Of course, he lifts me up, where I can really smell something familiar. I know I’ve smelled it before, and memories come flooding over me. I can hardly behave because I’m so excited. Mom Bea tells me that I am being obnoxious, whatever that means. I know that I am out of control, that I am misbehaving, and that’s not good, because misbehaving sometimes means no treats. But there’s that smell. What is it? What is there about it that brings my little sister to mind and makes me so lonesome for her? Is it just because I feel so guilty and that I long to apologize to her? Is there something more that I haven’t figured out yet? Will I ever know? For some reason I think this person, Papa calls him “Mike,” might know something and I get excited, maybe overly excited, when he comes to visit. I can’t help it.

Chapter 15

Speaking of getting excited, I do sometimes get too excited because of some small thing, and I jump around, stand up, and wave my front paws in the air. One market day, I was outside, on my leash, with Marvelous Master Matthew and Papa. Mom Bea and Chippy were inside, in the camper, when the door suddenly opened. Mom Bea was carrying Chippy. I jumped up, ran around, waved my paws, and was excited to see them. Somehow, I don’t know how, Mom Bea tripped over my leash and fell down, hard, onto the ground, and landed on her belly. To avoid that, I went one way and Chippy ran the other way. I was so sorry, but I sure didn’t know how to tell Mom Bea that, or how to let her know. Will I ever learn how to say “I’m sorry?” Why is it so difficult to make myself be understood? I hope I learn how to do it before I see my little sister again. Will I ever see her again? I sure hope so! Oh, there’s “Jake.” I hear him more often than I actually see him. If anyone thinks I’m a talker, that I talk a lot, he talks even more. If it isn’t him I hear, especially when we’re outside on market days, it’s his equally talkative, sometimes downright yappy step-sister, Chiquiquita. They both talk a lot, and they talk loudly. I try to understand what they’re saying, but I think most of the time they’re simply trying to scare people passing by, warning them to stay away. I don’t know.

Chapter 16

Guess what happened today. I will tell you. Because today was a market day, there were plenty of people shopping, strolling and stopping by our flea market booth. I was outside, tied to my short leash, watching everything and with Marvelous Master Matthew. Butch, another merchant, with two dogs of his own, came over, and I wiggled, twisted and talked as well as I could to signal how happy I was to see him. He calls me a “side-winder.” I think he calls me that because, whenever he approaches, I wiggle sideways, look up at him and wag my tail. I just know that I’m happy, and when I’m happy, I wiggle. He calls Mom Bea, “Meemaw.” He’s really funny and has quite long fur, known as whiskers and mustache, on his face too. I don’t ever see anyone pet or pat his. He’s tall, so maybe nobody can reach it. I don’t know. There is so much that I don’t know.

This is what I wanted to tell you. I saw the lady I have been watching for. You remember. She and Mom Bea were talking outside Mom Bea’s place, my place now, and I thought I could smell my little sister from where I then was at Nina’s. I’m sure it’s the same person. She bought some food at Jim and Mo’s diner. That’s what Mom Bea calls it, a diner. A diner? It sure smells good! If I could stretch my leash a bit further, maybe I could smell my sister on that person, but I can’t stretch it, so I only smell hamburgers and french fries. And now that person is gone.

Chapter 17

Chippy lets me sit with her and Papa, but only if I don’t take her spot. I quickly learned which spot is hers, and it’s closest to Papa’s dinner plate. If I get too close to her spot, she warns me by wrinkling her nose, curling her lip, and baring her teeth. She warns me before she directly attacks. It’s actually kind of cute when she does it. It can hurt if I don’t move away fast enough, but I am fast. One time I wasn’t fast enough and her teeth connected with my nose -she bit me hard- and that really hurt. I think I might have a scar on my nose as proof, but I don’t know. As I said, there’s a lot I don’t know yet. But one thing I do know. Papa will always leave a tiny bit of his food in the bottom of the bowl, or on his plate, and it’s reserved just for me if I wait patiently. That’s what he says. He says, “Dino always begs so patiently.” Dino? Dino? That’s the way this whole story started, how I got my name. Now might be a good time to tell you because Dino is only part of it. My real name, and it’s kind of a secret, to be kept just between us, is Saint Bernard.

Chippy and me, being a family.

Chapter 18

Marvelous Master Matthew was holding me on his lap one evening, and I was having that really warm inside feeling I have most of the time now, especially when he holds me. He and Mom Bea were quietly discussing what my name should be. I, of course, thought about how my brothers, Jake and Blackie, got their names, and I wondered how I would get mine. I don’t really remember all the possible names they raised and considered. I thought I might like to be known as “Mr. Chips,” but they didn’t ask me. They kept saying, “It needs to be special.”

As they talked, Mom Bea remembered, when she was young, she wanted to have a Saint Bernard breed of dog, but her mom refused because those dogs are too big. Something about that made Marvelous Master Matthew smile. He thought that was a smart and fitting name for me, a special little dog, but a little dog in need of a big name. You guessed it. That’s exactly what they both agreed my name would be: Saint Bernard. Mr. Chips wasn’t even mentioned. Mr. Chips and Miss Chippy sounded special to me. Saint Bernard is a very big name.

Marvelous Master Matthew holds me on his lap.

Chapter 19

Do you remember the time that Papa called me Dino? I’ll explain why he did. I have told you that my ancestors originated in the state of Chihuahua, in the country of Mexico. In Mexico, they usually speak another language known as Spanish. In Spanish, my new name, Saint Bernard, is pronounced, San Bernardino. Did you hear the way that sounds on the end, San Bernardino? Our marketplace here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is only a short distance from the border with Mexico, so my Spanish-speaking friends may call me San Bernardino, and my English-speaking friends may call me Saint Bernard. But anyone may call me Dino, for short. That is something I know, and, yes, it makes me feel warm inside. So now you know how I got my name.

Sometimes, I admit, I do wish they would use my big name, Saint Bernard. Doesn’t that sound grand? Just thinking about it makes me feel worth more. Everything about being here in this 25-foot, three-bedroom camper makes me feel that way, worth more. Those other sad thoughts, nobody calling me a name except “that one with the floppy ear … puppy mill …” are fading away. I rarely have that feeling of unease anymore. I don’t know exactly when those thoughts and the unease began to fade away, but I think it started when that other feeling of liquid love began to fill me.

Chapter 20

There is one thing that sometimes concerns me. Mom Bea not only puts clothes on Chippy, but sews and knits clothes for her too. I sure hope she doesn’t try that on me. Chippy doesn’t mind. In fact, I think Chippy enjoys showing off and receiving attention. I’ve also seen and heard other oddities. Isn’t that a good word that I’ve learned? I think Marvelous Master Matthew uses it sometimes. Some people not only put clothes on their dogs, including sun visors and even sunglasses, they push them around in strollers, or baby carriages. They also carry them in a big, front pocket type of thing. I heard one man say, to his rather charming little dog, “Daddy’s tired of carrying you. Is it ok if I give you to Mama now? You may come back to Daddy soon. Daddy will go get us some ice-cream. Do you want ice-cream? Mommy might want some too.” I then saw the Mommy take the dog in her arms, closely cuddle it, kiss its head -yuck!- and say, in words I could barely hear, “Daddy will return soon, Sweetie, with your favorite ice-cream.”

I didn’t know what to think about that, but the dog looked over the lady’s shoulder at me with a pitiful, “Help me, please,” expression. I was helpless. I had no way to give even a look, or bark, or snuffle of encouragement. In fact, it was difficult to not look at my Marvelous Master Matthew and sigh. I seem to sigh a lot, and if I had sighed, it would have been a sigh of relief that, thus far, though I’ve been adopted into a human family, I’ve not suffered such humiliation. I knew that those people were not the dog’s real mom and dad. It is embarrassing to think so! It’s true that I call Mom Bea, “mom,” but that’s only because Marvelous Master Matthew calls her that. Others do too. She is a mom in every way, but I won’t refer to anybody as either “mommy” or “daddy” and literally mean it, even if I am offered lots of ice-cream. I know she’s not my mommy and Papa is not my daddy. My mom and dad look more like me.

Ok, so Mom Bea did knit and sew me a sweater after all. It keeps me warm on cold days.

Chapter 21

I tried really hard to get both ears up, to listen closely to what I thought I was hearing. Mike came to visit. You remember Mike. When he knocks on our door, with a treat for me in his pocket, he causes me to bark, bark and bark. Today he brought me a couple of pieces of bacon. They were so good! I tried to take it easy, to chew and eat them slowly, but I couldn’t. When they were within my reach, I wanted to grab and gobble them, and so I did. Mike didn’t care, but Mom Bea did care. I became nervous when she raised her voice and said, “I said easy!”

Well, Mike picked me up, as he usually does, and I sniffed, snuffled and licked his ear, which is my way of saying “thanks for the bacon.” He patted my head with his paw -oops, I mean hand- and it had that smell that I mentioned. I could never forget that smell. I know now that his hands smell like my little sister. And the distinct smell is not only on his hands. It’s also on his shirt, his neck, and even down to his shoes. I know it’s her, and I can hear him telling Mom Bea that his wife, Beverly, has an idea, a plan. She thinks it would be a good thing to bring Blackie, Jake, Gabby and me, Dino, also known as Saint Bernard, together for a special reunion before we all leave the Rio Grande Valley to go to our separate homes, far away. Blackie I know, and Jake I know, but who is Gabby? Reunion? What is a reunion? Is it possible that Gabby is who I hope she is and isn’t that yappy Chiquiquita after all?

Chapter 22

The special day arrived. The “Winter Texans” from another country, not Mexico but Canada, brought Blackie. It sure was good to see him again! It didn’t matter anymore which of the two of us was bigger or better, never mind that he’s still black and I’m still tan or rusty. Now we both have names, he’s Blackie and I’m Dino. I enjoyed seeing Jenny and John again, and was pleased to see how well they treated my brother. Speaking of treats, I knew Blackie was happy and had gobbled a lot of them. Blackie and I sniffed and then faced each other, planted our paws on the ground, made a first, hesitant start, and ran around the outdoor chairs, chasing each other in circles until we were breathless and dizzy.

Meanwhile, Georgia arrived, carrying Jake. She left Chiquiquita, the senseless yapper, home alone. I could still hear her yapping, but this time, it sounded more like a worried yap. Little Jake, and he is little though he tries to act big, was somewhat nervous about being reunited with us two bigger dogs. I almost forgot how small he is, even though he’s grown some. Still, because we are not only brothers but also dogs, we greeted each other by sniffing, snuffling, nipping and sometimes banging our wildly wagging tails against each other. After we did that for a minute, Jake decided to try to avoid us. First he wiggled and then he ran, here and there, but that only caused Blackie and me to work together, to run faster, and to round him up and return him to Georgia. We got really good, close smells of him and knew, without doubt, that he was our little brother, whose name was Jake. Even though I was busy, and was overjoyed to be with both of my brothers, I kept wondering, in the back of my mind, about our long-lost, maybe even still nameless, sister.

All of the action suddenly stopped. I stood still. I stopped sniffing, snuffling, running around, jumping up and down, and I even stopped playfully nipping Blackie and Jake because I caught a whiff, and then a glimpse, of a very small, beautiful canine, that is, another dog. I immediately knew that it was my baby sister. Beverly said, “Calm down, Gabby,” but Gabby either wouldn’t or couldn’t be calm, just like I can’t stop gobbling treats. She joined in, as if we had always been together and none of us had ever been apart. I didn’t want to tease her and she knew that. She gave me special attention. A couple of times she tried to jump up onto my back and bite my ear. In response, I didn’t growl, woof, or bark. I just sighed a sigh. I did sniff her a bit, and we both snuffled some snuffles all around each other.

Our reunion ended almost as quickly as it began. John and Jenny picked Blackie up and walked away with him. While Georgia left with Jake, Mike arrived, and the three of them, Mike, Beverly and Gabby, walked to their own camper. Mike did kindly remember to leave me a tasty bit of bacon. But more important than treats, I was awash in the wonderful feeling of forgiveness. My sister, Gabby, forgave me for the foolish actions of my youth. She loves me! Such a great reunion it was. And yet there’s something else, something new that concerns me. Lately I keep hearing, “Before we leave to go home.” What does that mean? Aren’t we already home, here in the Rio Grande Valley?

My brother, Jake, greets me at the reunion (with both ears up).

Chapter 23

The next thing you know, I started listening with both ears to some of Mom Bea’s friends when they talked about going home or leaving the valley. I wondered what it all meant and started feeling that old, familiar feeling, “… puppy mill … worth more or worth less.” Wow! I thought those feelings and worries were gone forever, but no, they’re back, and just as real as ever. What does it mean? I don’t know. I guess it’s like everything else, I have to wait and see. I will wait, because, as I live and breathe, thus far my life has been mighty good -worth more, for sure, not worth less. I don’t even know what a puppy mill is, and I wish no other dog would ever have to know. It doesn’t have a very good feeling when I hear the words. It’s sort of like hearing the word “kids” instead of “children.”

I didn’t have to wait long to find out the meaning of the words. Mom Bea, Papa and Marvelous Master Matthew said “goodbye” to all of their friends here in the valley and plan to go north, to “go home,” sort of like my mom and dad went home with Norm and Ruth. The difference is, maybe this time I won’t be left behind, maybe I can go home too.

Chapter 24

One splendid morning, Mom Bea and I returned to the camper from our morning walk outside the fence when I noticed that Marvelous Master Matthew and Papa were busy doing something I had never seen them do, outside the regular routine I knew well. No, this was different. Instead of setting up, as they do on market days, they were packing up, preparing to head north, to go home. There were those words again, “going home,” so I had to wait, but not for long. Mom Bea scooped Chippy into her arms and put me on my leash. We walked over to Nina’s. As Nina held me in her lap and patted my head in her special way, I did feel calm, but still a bit anxious. Nobody explained anything to Chippy or me. Of course, we both knew something was going on. I had no real clue what that something was, but Chippy wasn’t disturbed. In fact, she acted as though she had some big secret and wasn’t telling it. She’s like that sometimes. I have to admit she’s been around a lot longer than me and has more experience. Maybe that, acting like she has a secret, is her way of telling me that I don’t need to fret or be anxious, that everything will be fine. Next I heard Mom Bea and Nina say “goodbye” and that they hoped to see each other in the fall. Papa pushed the back door of the tightly packed van shut, said “so long” to Nina, and asked Mom Bea and Chippy if they were ready to go. “Wanna go?” We’re packed and ready. Did I hear what he said? Does that include me? Does he really mean me too? He does! I get to go home! What has happened to my wiggle waggle happy? I can’t work it up, but now I know that I get to go home too, so that, at least, is settled.

Chapter 25

Now I know why I couldn’t get my wiggle waggle up. This is dreadful! That’s a new word, dreadful. Where did it come from? I don’t know. It seems close to that other feeling of unease, but it’s more, so much more. Chippy has already gone to sleep under her blanket on Mom Bea’s lap, in the passenger seat. Marvelous Master Matthew is driving. Papa sits alone, in the back seat. What about me? I’m nervous! I’ve never ridden in a car before. I can’t seem to get my whines under control. I don’t feel like barking or growling. There’s nowhere to hide, no protective cubby-holes. I can’t get out. I don’t want to go back. Back to where? Back to the marketplace? No. Maybe back to the back seat? I don’t know. As I’ve said before, there’s a lot I don’t know. What is this? I’m trying to find my sigh. As I’ve also said before, I sigh a lot. I can feel it trying. It always comes so easy. When my sigh comes, I feel it and I can rest. Maybe it will work if I hang my head. That’s what I did. I just hung my head, looked down, and there it was: a place. Oh, how comforting! I can let my sigh come. I can lay down right here on this bed where I’m standing. This is my blanket and my pillow. I didn’t even know it, and they’re right next to Mom Bea and Chippy. I can rest my head on Marvelous Master Matthew’s lap while he drives. At last I can sigh. I am perfectly at peace.

When I am most peaceful, this is how I sleep.

Chapter 26

The ride north wasn’t so bad after I found my space. We were cozy in our individual spaces. There were stops and starts, and lots of new smells. Now and then, I would get a few bites of fast-food burgers. They weren’t as tasty as Mike’s bits of bacon -or was it that smell around his neck I really liked? I will always remember Mike, more because of that smell than the bits of bacon. After we rode for a long time, for many miles, we stopped and stayed somewhere. I don’t know how long we stayed, but it was long enough for me to make some new friends. There were some children, not kids, I liked. They were mostly afraid of me and I know why. I could smell cat on them, and they only knew how cats play. They had no idea how I play and what I wanted with my advances of vigorous wiggling, jumping and softly nipping. I spent most of my time on Marvelous Master Matthew’s lap, which was fine with me, but they never got to learn how I play.

It’s hard to tell you all the things I learned on that first trip from South Texas to Michigan, with a stop-over in Oklahoma, but every time I settled down in my special space and the car started moving so fast down a road I had never traveled, I was terrified. It takes a lot of strength and courage to relax enough to get my sigh, but I just did it. I am learning that I only have to do what comes next, and even if it’s hard, to do it anyway. I am learning how to do really hard things. I guess that’s what this dog-o-graphy is all about. It’s all about a journey. We take those journeys each and every day, in our own way, and that journey becomes a story. This story is mine. And this is not The End.

Me, Dino, on my life journey.
Image result for image of dog paw print
This is my pawtograph.

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7 thoughts on “Dino’s Story

  1. Dear Dino,

    You are exactly the right type of personality to handle all this fame. I feel that you will remain your gentle loving self even with all the requests for pawtographs!

    I miss you buddy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve taught me that tiny paws have big hearts Dino. I LOVED YOUR STORY! Please keep writing about your journey! I would love to know more about how you deal with and how you do…just what comes next. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I am typing this, my cat Suki is sleeping soundly on my lap. Our pets become best
    friends who never criticize us
    and are always great companions. I love Dino’s story very much. You’re lucky to find each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother read “The Incredible Journey” to us when we were little and reading Dino’s story brought that memory to mind. Our great grandchildren will love having this story read to them. We’ll see that they hear it. I can now be more patient with barking dogs!

    Liked by 1 person

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