his master's help, he grew to understand that collars,
leashes and manners were important things to know about.
He grew accustomed to riding in a car, accustomed to
the slippery floor of a veterinarian's office and the
bitter taste of medicine ... He grew accustomed to many
things, to please the one he loved.
were others like his master. As time went by, he saw
many of these gods, for that's what they were to him.
He heard them speak and did not understand their words,
he saw their eyebrows raise and fall, he saw the gesture
of their hands and felt their laughter. "Is that
thing worth showing?" they asked.
see," came the answer from the one who mattered
to him most. "His mother is the best one I have
and his sire is a winner."
spring burned into summer and summer leaves began to
fall, they worked. They worked together, side by side,
early in the morning. They roamed the pasture and fields,
just the two of them, a master and his dog; a master
and his dog sharing a secret. "You can do it,"
he was told. "I know you can."
what seemed like endless mornings and endless nights,
when it felt as if this would be his lot in life forever,
something changed. "We've done enough now, my friend.
It's time to show them."
them? Show them what? What are we going to show them?
going to show them what you were born to be," came
the answer, as he felt his master's smile upon him.
was frightened that day. Was he good enough? Would he
do the right thing or would he let his master down?
What was ahead for him, he wondered, as he hopped into
the car. Were they going to the vet's office? Please
say they weren't going to the vet's office for shots
or medicine. But, they weren't going to the vet. This
time, they drove past the vet. He breathed a sigh of
relief and fell asleep.
was the sounds that woke him: sounds of barking, air
compressors and excited chatter. The smell of sausage,
French fries and dogs -- hundreds of them; more dogs
than he had ever seen in his life -- lured him to full
attention. Where are we, he wondered, pressing his nose
against the window. What's happening?
on, fella," his master said, opening the door and
snapping on a leash after they came to a stop. "Good
"Good" is what he always tried to be. Was
it his imagination, or was his master standing extra
tall today? Was his master brushing him with extra-careful
attention? Were people looking at them in a different
way than they used to?
"Where'd you get that one?" somebody with
a poodle asked.
"Bred him myself," came the answer.
"Yeah? Who's he out of?"
"The best one I have and his sire's a winner."
"Wait a minute -" came a voice of disbelief.
"That can't be the one I saw at your place. That
pup was just about the scrawniest thing I ever saw!"
Nobody had ever told him he was scrawny. Nobody
had ever told him he was any different from a flower
or a cloud or a beautiful butterfly. Nobody had ever
told him anything ... except that he was important;
except that he was loved.
class was called, the entries filed into the ring ...
proudly, he stood as the judge ran her hands through
his hair, over his back and down his legs. Down and
back they trotted; around the ring they went. As still
as a living statue he stood, though every fiber of his
being wished to jump into his master's arms.
by one the entries went through their paces. One by
one, they went to the end of the line. One by one, they
waited the judge's brave decision.
again, please," she directed ... and, sure of herself,
she pointed: "One! ... Two! ... Three! ... Four!"
as the crowd clapped their approval.
it wasn't as if he understood exactly "what"
he had done to make everyone so happy. It wasn't as
if he had fought off a raging bear, or saved a lost
child. He hadn't run for help or chased away a thief.
He hadn't done any of those things. He hadn't done anything
but be himself, standing bravely before a crowd of strangers;
standing beside the one he loved. There it was: His
master's hand upon his shoulder; his master's voice
at his ear; his master's smile upon him.