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Last Summer Before Life

Chapter One – Prologue/My Life

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Hi, my name is Kirun and I came four years ago here to this city to study. This story is not about my studies though, more like about my chocolate brown Labrador retriever named Daniel and the problems he caused. My parents gave him to me two weeks before I moved out to live in a small apartment not too far away from anything important (except my family).

I liked Daniel from the start and why not? As a puppy he was cute and adorable as all teddybears put together. He always learned all the tricks I taught him fast and didn't bother me too much with barking. Because I knew he would be kind of large creature as gown-up, I taught him from the start not to come to my bed or my couch. I didn't want any muddy pawprints on them either, so there was nothing wrong with it, right? Besides I had bought him a nice, large, soft blanket he could use as a bed.

When he started growing up, I was a bit terrified when I realized how much exactly a dog could eat. I didn't ever think seriously about giving him away, even though sometimes, when I had problems to make ends meet, I hoped my parents would have given me a bit less hungry dog – like a chihuahua. A small thing that fits into a coffee cup can't eat much, can it?

Outside the house Daniel acts pretty nicely, especially on leash: no yanking, pulling or whining at all. He just walks beside me in a calm manner. He doesn't even bark at cars and other dogs. On that aspect I'm lucky I have him and not some other dog. Fortunately he doesn't find jumping into mud puddles a pleasure, so I don't need to wash him all the time.

Long strolls with my faithful Daniel were a total lifesaver to me, when I broke up more or less every single relationship I ever had here. I definitely didn't do it on purpose, somehow I just either had too little time for them, or ended up cheating on them (or they cheated on me) or then it just didn't work out between us and we decided to call it off and bid our farewells.

I have always been good with people and collected a crowd of entertaining personalities around me, but actually I prefer to have only two or three close friends, who know me well. The others can think they know me. Here though it was different, because I had promised my father that I would turn a new page and never return to my old bad habits and lifestyle. I also had less time, because I had to support myself and Daniel, which equals to working hard on weekends and after school.

So my only real human friend here who I had always time for was Mitchell, who can be a total bitch when the mood hits him, but other than that he is loyal, practical, sensible and efficient. In other words he has all the good qualities I lack. When I first met him, I thought that he would be one amazing husband to some lucky girl – who of course should be able to stand his mood swings. Hopefully soon, because at least in my opinion he should marry already. Um, sorry, I didn't intend to sound bitter.

In some sense this story began, when I went to look labrador retriever puppies with my family. But if you look this a bit differently you could say that everything began, when I came to home after work one day. However I don't find starting there easy, so I will place the beginning of this all at a perfectly normal stroll I shared with Daniel:

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As usual at that time of an evening Kirun was walking through a park with his dog. He had let Daniel off leash, because that was allowed in that certain park (one of the reasons he came there quite often) and because Daniel preferred walking on grass to walking on asphalt. Kirun himself didn't find trudging in an almost knee-length grass entertaining, so he just strolled leisurely beside it and glanced once in a while to his side to make sure that his dog was still in sight.

Daniel was trotting near him and at least to Kirun the labrador retriever looked happy. Two small puppies – maybe cairnterriers? - approached the older dog with mischievous spark in their eyes. They were wagging their little tails and making gestures of inviting Daniel to play with them. Kirun guessed that Daniel would ignore them, because for some reason the chocolate brown dog wasn't usually interested in socializing with other pets.

A little while later the puppies gave up and bolted away probably back to their lucky owner. Kirun smiled at them and shook his head: puppies were just adorable little things! Perfect dog would be a one that stayed always as a puppy, he thought with a chuckle. Daniel lifted his head and looked at his young owner. The puzzled look his pet was giving him made Kirun laugh.

"Don't panic, dearest, you are wonderful as you are", he whispered. It gave him another laughing fit. If Daniel was a human, Kirun was sure he would have rolled his eyes at his owner's behavior. Thank goodness he is a dog!

As their stroll was drawing to its end Kirun began to think about the near future, or more precisely the assignment he was supposed to return in three days. It was part of the large portfolio he was supposed to do before finishing his studies. He could feel the calm happy feeling walking a dog gave him wearing off already. Back to the real world then. Yippee..., he groaned in his mind. Would it kill Daniel, if I walked him nine times a day? With my luck it would make him ill, and then I should take him to a vet, even though I can't afford that.

He checked Daniel's paws for shards of glass or bits of pine branches. This was a ritual he went through every time they came from a stroll. When he was a little child – about ten years old – and still lived with his parents, they had had a dalmatian dog. Once when his father had come from walking the dog, it had started limping. They had not first noticed it since the dog had went to his berth. When they had later called him to the kitchen to eat, they had realized he left bloody paw prints on the floor. There had been a largish shard of glass in his paw, which had caused quite lot of pain to their poor pet.

Of course he avoided the most probably glass containing areas while walking Daniel, but still, better not to take any chances. Because of the nice, sunny and particularly dry weather there was no need to wash Daniel's paws, so Kirun let him into the apartment right after the paw checking. He then himself went to his computer to write the said school assignment, which was not exactly what he would have wanted to do.

After almost two hours of intense writing and searching for information Kirun shut his computer and yawned. His assignment was hardly finished, but he still had two days to perfect it, so it wasn't yet time to panic. He looked around trying to spot Daniel, but apparently the pet was somewhere else in the house. He found him sleeping in kitchen. Kirun was going to step back and go to brush his teeth, but his arrival in the small kitchen had woken the dog up.

He sighed quietly feeling a bit sorry for disturbing his pet's sleep, but now that Daniel was awake Kirun walked to his dog and dropped to sit beside him. He started petting his dog and rubbing behind his ears. Daniel lowered his head on his lap and inched closer.

"I can't take you to a very long walk tomorrow, Daniel. The school work and such, you know", Kirun spoke quietly. "I hope we would get less assignments from school and that I wouldn't need to work after the lessons.

"Then I would have a time for a boyfriend again. Or just time to relax once in a while. Or time to start a new hobby. Or... I think I could name thousands of things I would do, if I only had time and money."

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