Sometimes when Mom and Dad came in the house at the end of the day there would be pictures scattered on the kitchen table, or the coffee table.
Morgan and I were playing bobo that evening. As I got slightly older and bigger, I learned what fun it was to play games that weren't Wrestle the Brother or Chase Gucci Away. Sometimes she would use the bobo to lift me up into the air, me hanging onto the other end as tight as I could muster. When I finally let her have it again, she threw it for me and I would retrieve it. I was such a good dog! Morgan would pet me to clarify. "You're a good boy!" she said, before we started over. Whizzing around the room, playing tug of war, was a dream come true.
This particular bobo was named Uncle Sam. He was blue and wore a had with stars and stripes. We got him because of a day called the Fourth of July. I wasn't sure why this day was so special- there was still supper and playtime and loud noises in the sky for some reason.
No matter. With all these happy things, I hardly missed Mommy Sophie at all.
"We can spend holidays up there," Dad said, looking through the photos.
I wondered what the fuss was about. I jumped up onto the coffee table to get a closer look. The coffee table often held interesting things, usually sandwiches.
"Cooper, nope." The words were enunciated clearly and firmly. But I had to know. I wasn't doing anything wrong. Then Mom started walking toward me.
Uh oh. Exclamation points. She meant business. I dropped my paws to the ground.
As time went on, there was more and more talk about "the Pocono house." I put my thoughts together. "House" was where people lived with their dogs. I didn't know what "Pocono" meant. I guess I was going to find out.
A few weeks later there were bags.
Bags in the hall.
Bags in the laundry room with the cool tile where I loved to lay down when it was hot.
Bags that had stuff in them. Lots and lots of stuff! Including my crate.
This could only mean one thing. They were going away, and they were leaving me behind. I didn't understand why so many people wanted to give up such a cute puppy.
I pawed at the door as much as I could to let them know what they were doing. I was a dog with feelings, so they shouldn't be ignored. I whined and yelled every time Dad walked out the door to take more bags outside. What was happening? I found myself wanting Mommy Sophie. Why would anyone want to abandon such a regal puppy?
"Aw, that's so sad!" Kailey said. "He thinks we're leaving him."
I didn't have a good grasp of English yet and didn't understand. Their words weren't as proper and pronounced as Mother Mary's, so I doubted they came from England. Figured.
Then something surprising happened.
"Come on, Cooper!" Dad said. "Let's go!"
There was a box, and they put me inside. There was just enough room to sit comfortably- if I didn't stand. It was a lot smaller than any crate that I had been in. But at least there was room to see. Sort of.
We were going for a car ride!
I sat in my crate for quite some time. It was pretty dull and I fell asleep on the bed inside.I could hardly see out my tiny windows. Bored, I fell asleep.
Morgan soon began petting me roughly. "He's snoring!" she said.
We arrived at another house that was surrounded by trees. Dad attached me to the blue string, which usually meant that we were doing Walk. But that wasn't the case. Instead, they led me into the house.
It was a lot smaller. I sniffed. There was a living room with a small kitchen and a tiny "hallway" leading to a bigger bedroom. Not exactly the palace that was available to me at home.
"Let's take the grand tour," Dad said, as they headed up the steps.
My family went upstairs and I was asked to stay behind. Sadly they brought my crate along too, so I was asked to stay there. I heard many a "Wow!" and "This is so awesome!" and "I love how you decorated! Thanks, Mom!" I simply stood in front of my door and whined.
"Shush, Cooper." I think Morgan said that.
Finally, finally, they came downstairs and let me out. I was tempted to stay. They were doing their best me let me know that I was Dog and they were People. Even us royal dogs didn't get respect.
"We just didn't want him marking his territory in the house yet," Mom said, unlocking the door.
What territory? This was all new to me.
Mostly, though, I was curious about the amazing things upstairs. Maybe that could be my territory. It was a smaller house, but I would have to make do.
We slept at that house that night. Like usual, I slept with Mom and Dad in their room. It smelled wonderfully musty, like stale satin blankets. I slept like a king, but morning came quickly.
"Morgan! Kaylie! Emily! Time to get up!" Dad stood downstairs, calling to the mysterious heavens upward.
When we woke up, I had a chance. When nobody was looking, I crept up to the stairs and stood. They were so very, very steep. This wouldn't be easy.
I tried putting my feet on the first step. Then the next. But I couldn't do it. I jumped backward, and Morgan laughed.
"Oh, no, he's scared of the steps!" she said. Emily laughed. I didn't understand what was so funny about not being able to climb something so terribly steep.
Dad picked me up. "We have to go wake up the rest of your sisters." And he carried me up. There was a sitting area and two doors with bedrooms inside. We went inside the first door. Emily was under the bed, under blankets, where Dad placed me down.
She looked so sweet and…kissable.I went to her face and licked. And licked.
"Cooper! No! Stop!" But she was giggling too, and I continued. We stayed like that for a while. Nothing could wake you up like love!
"Okay, you, that's enough," Dad said. He picked me up and we headed to Kailey's room.
"His tongue is cold!" Emily giggled.
Kailey was harder to wake up. Her eyes wouldn't open. I had a job in front of me. I got down on the bed and began kissing. "Mhhmm," Kailey groaned, rolling the covers over her head.
"Good morning, Kailey!" Dad said. "Time for a new day. Visiting the community center, going out to eat. You don't want to sleep the day away."
She stretched her arms over her head, and I licked them.
We went back downstairs when I enjoyed breakfast. I ws satisfied. Maybe my job was to be the affectionate one. I thought of Morgan and how excited she was to get my kisses. Had she even seen kisses before? I made it my new goal to let everyone know they were loved.
The girls came back dressed in weird-looking clothes. Honestly, where was their dignity? Triangle-shaped shirts covered their torsos but left everything else exposed.
"I'm so excited to see the pool," Emily said.
Morgan was spreading coconut cream all over herself. It smelled delicious. I walked over to her and began to lick. "Gross! Cut it out! You're such a love puppy, Coopie." She pushed me away, though I hesitated and attempted sniffing her delicious new smell.
"Cooper, crate." Mom opened the door and said the words. Over time, I came to realize that they meant I was to go inside and be a good boy.
Okay. So, I was dragged along somewhere again, yet the only thing for me to do was sit in my crate. I guess it was better than being abandoned at home.
My happy family left me in the crate as they went out. At least I knew where I was now. They came back as they always did. My understanding was that I was supposed to be a good boy by staying home, and they would be people by going out. Still, I wished that I could go on these explorations, too. When they came back sopping wet and in good spirits, I felt a little sad.
They surprised me yet again by packing their bags and my crate, and soon we were headed to the car for the journey back to our regular house. It smelled homey and like carpet. As soon as they set up my crate again, I curled up for a nap. It was over so quickly, and everyone was already packing their familiar bags that they used for most of the week. It was a fun adventure, but what was the point if I didn't get to do anything?
Life was so full of surprises! If this was to be my new life, surely I'd discover even more. But first, I'd have to conquer steps.