He shook himself and looked around in wonder.
Thousands – no, millions – of doggies played, jumped, romped, and ran across the soft grass for as far as his eyes could see. Doggies of every size and color. He’d never seen so many doggies, not even at the awful place he’d been once before.
Before his mom and dad took him home.
Speaking of… where were his mom and dad? Bewildered, he turned to look behind him.
A shimmering path of every color in the rainbow ended in a curtain of thick mist. For just a moment, he thought he heard his mom’s voice calling him, but it was distant and faint. He took one step toward the path but something stopped him, and he couldn’t go any further.
“You can’t go back,” a voice said from behind him.
He turned and came face to face with a handsome, fluffy white doggie about his own size.
“Why not? I need to find my mom.”
The other doggie shook his head. “She’s not here yet. You have to wait for her.”
Oh. Sort of like how he always waited for her to come home from the places she went without him.
“Okay. I’ll just lay here and wait, then.”
The other doggie shook his head again. “That’s not how it works around here. C’mon, I’ll explain it to you.”
He hesitated, looking back at the mist and hoping to see his mom appear.
“Look, new guy. I’ve been here for a while. You’ll know when it’s time to come back here to greet her. Right now isn’t the time.”
Reluctantly, he faced the other doggie again. Instinctively, he trusted him, but wasn’t sure why. Then, as he got a little closer to sniff him, he knew.
He smelled like her.
How could that be?
“Why do you smell like her?”
The other doggie smiled. “Because she’s my mom, too.”
“But I’ve never met you. I have two sisters, though.”
“I was before your time.” Now the other doggie’s smile turned wistful. “Oh, there are two more? That’s so good to hear. I’ve been worried about her. But it’s good she’s not alone. She has your sisters to take care of, and to take care of her.”
“And there’s my dad, too. He takes pretty good care of her.”
Now the other doggie grinned. “Yeah, and your dad. He was my dad for a while, too.”
Wait. So now he has a brother, too? While part of him was happy, he still frowned. “Who are you?”
“I’m Buddy, but that wasn’t my name before. That’s what our mom called me. What’s your name?”
“Trip. But just like you, that wasn’t my name before. When my – uh, our – mom and dad took me from the awful place, they called me Dude at first, but that wasn’t my name either.”
Now that he thought about it, he sort of remembered hearing his mom say the name Buddy. More than a few times, actually.
“Well, Trip, it’s nice to meet you. Brother.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Buddy. Uh, Brother.”
“So c’mon, I’ll show you around, introduce you. It’s almost time for lunch, but I’ll tell you my story, and you can tell me your story. And then afterward, we’ll play.”
Lunch? Play? He wagged his tail and took a step forward, then turned and looked over his shoulder. But it was just a quick glance.
“I’ll be back to wait for you, Mom,” he thought.
Then, side by side, Trip and Buddy walked away from the shimmering path and across the soft grass.
In memory of Trip Youngblood 2013 – 2019