All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Life of Xena
There are many things you can’t change in life. There’s weather, gas prices, the fact that I’ve been a dog for as long as I could remember. Well, there was that time before. I vaguely remember my past life. I know that it was full of fun and adventure. I remember that, towards the end, I became tired. Very tired. I fell asleep. The next thing I know, I’m opening my eyes to six furry brothers and sisters. There was shock at first, of course. Anyone who just wakes up to six pairs of eyes, six wagging tails, and six inquisitive noses is in for a surprise. The funny thing is, I don’t even remember being born. I do know that I seem to have forgotten most my human language. I also know that I had a very strong bond with my new mother. I knew it from the first time she let me suckle milk before my brothers and sisters did.
I learned to walk very quickly. Already I knew I was different from the rest of my litter. They were all reddish-brown, and I was a soft, golden color. Well, so was one of my brothers, but he did not have the distinctive ridge apparently unique to my species of dog. I was female, which my mother revealed to me in pleasant, subtle growls and murmurs. I felt we had built quite the rapport, my mother and I. She taught me to be strong and hungry for knowledge. She kept me close all the time; I was her favorite.
I think I was ten days old when I first met humans that were not feeders or cleaners of our spacious kennel. I believe Mother called them “breeders” or something of that nature. There were plenty humans that day, but one pack stood out from the rest. They were different too, like me. There was one dark one (a female, I later found out), a light one (the male), and two mixed colored ones (a boy and a girl). The smaller ones reminded me of myself. They were different shades than their parents. I felt connected to them almost instantly. In any other circumstance, I wouldn’t have, but Mother warned me of the time when I would be taken away from her, as she had been from her siblings. She also told me not to worry, and that the family that connected with me would be the One. They didn’t really notice me; rather, they noticed all of us. But I was certain that I heard my name, Caddy, from one of the breeders.
I lived another eight weeks (Mother informed me that it was eight weeks) without any more humans visiting. Those eight weeks with Mother will always be cherished in my heart. She told me every day how much she loved me and how much I meant to her. She conveyed this affection by rough-housing with me and never “taking it easy” (I learned this phrase from a human). For me, those eight weeks could never have gone faster.
Eight weeks passed by. Or was it eight days? Eight hours? My concept of time had not really developed yet. The humans that intrigued me before had revisited me. According to Mother, they planned to take me home that day. Excitement took control over my body. Adventure! I would finally leave the home and see the world! I always wanted to know more in those days. I could not wait for them to take me up and spirit me away! The boy, the mixed colored one, went upstairs for some reason (later I found that it was “allergies”). I then heard a scream, a pounding of feet, and a door slamming. Mother told me with a chuckle that the boy had met Father and Uncle. I went to see what became of the boy.
He sat against the stairs with panting and trembling with fear. The door was closed behind him. Why was he afraid? Father and Uncle were kind and gentle. Two siblings and I went to comfort him, but I lost myself in the wonderful assortment of smells radiating from the boy: salty water on his fur-less body, a sweet smelling odor from his armpits, and I believe the remains of fecal matter I may have left behind right at the entrance (oops!). We bonded instantly.
I said my last good byes to Mother, Father, Uncle, Brothers and Sister, and the breeders. Adventure!
Kidnap! Torture! Villainy! I let my anguish be known to the humans who were in the front of what I then described as a magical, moving, four-wheeled deathtrap (it is now known to me as the wonderful Car). How could it be moving, while we remained still? Why were they not afraid? My only logical answer was that they were monsters, and Mother was wrong about them. I cried and yelped for Mother and my littermates. Oh, how I missed them!
I found that these monsters were not as bad as I thought. Not at all. When we reached their kennel, I found that it was quite larger than my kennel. It was three stories high, with white walls and green borders around the windows. There were flowers along the walkway. They drove the car into what can only be described as a very large dog door. It made a lot of noise as it travelled up into the ceiling. Where it went, I’ll never know. The light-skinned one (I learned his name was Pa) carried me inside, while the boy and girl happily gathered my belongings and brought them out of the Car and into the very large kennel.
“Welcome home, Xena!” the humans exclaimed. I wondered to whom they were referring, but I quickly forgot as my nostrils were filled with strange, new scents. Never before had I been bombarded with the various fragrances of incense, spices, and that peculiar “new human” smell. I explored the entire kennel, from basement to top floor. For the moment, I forgot completely about my birth family. The wonders of a new home were simply awe-inspiring. I recall that on that first day in my new home, I ran all about and sniffed in every corner and crevice I could, taking deep whiffs of discovery.
Three months later…
I had grown quite accustomed to this new pack. I was told by the dark-skinned one, Mommy, that I was part of a “family.” I never did think of her as just a “Mommy,” as the smaller humans did. We forged a strong bond in my three months with the family. She reminded me of Mother, with her love and affection, her resonant tones, and her commanding presence. She told me many times to call her “Mumsy.” It was strange; I did not understand this request, but I felt it accurately described our closeness. She was my Mumsy and no one else’s.
Pa was quite different from Mumsy though. In my first days with this new family, I longed for Mother and my brothers and sisters. I cried for them every night. Pa seemed to understand my despair, for he began to sleep in the large room where my kennel was kept. His proximity let me know that I was not completely alone in this new home. I regarded him as my protector, my defense against the darkness and the solitude. On the nights he could not sleep on the “couch” (Mumsy told me repeatedly to never go on said couch), Pa would leave the artificial layer of fur he wore on his upper body in my cage. Mumsy asked him why he left his “shirt” for me. He replied that it was so I could remember him. I did. I slept soundly those nights, sniffing the shirt which usually smelled of Pa.
By this time, I understood that my name was no longer Caddy; it was Xena. The smaller humans reminded me of this every day. The boy would say “Good morning, Xena!” or the girl would say “How are you doing today, Xena?” From those two, I learned that they lived in a house, not a kennel, and that their artificial fur was a strange thing called “clothes.” I also learned a “bath” was the most dreaded thing in the world. I was determined to never have to experience “bath time.” I sensed that the boy was quite frightened of me, for reasons unknown to me. It was alright with me; I was scared of him as well. We avoided each other during my three months at the house. The girl always wanted to play with me, something for which I was grateful. A playmate at last! She did not mind a little rough housing, unlike my sisters.
There was one day, in what I learned was December, that a mysterious white substance began falling from the skies and through the trees. I felt immediately threatened. What was this falling from above the trees? I alerted my new family. They rushed to see what was wrong. When they saw what was occurring just outside the window, I knew they’d be concerned. The boy and girl began screaming and jumping up and down. I joined them for some reason. They ran upstairs to their private kennels and were back quickly, putting on heavy, long legged clothes. I sensed their intention, and was shocked that the two little ones would try to brave the mysterious white things on their own. Mumsy and Pa were baring their teeth at the children (apparently, this act is called “smiling”). I prepared myself to grieve over the loss of the children. Then, they scooped me outside with them! Oh the rage I felt! When they set me down, I expressed my anger by running in circles around them and tugging at their pants. This amused them. One of the sky-things touched me. It was very, very cold. The cold caught me by surprise. More fell on my body. The cold was not unpleasant, but I did not appreciate the sky-things attempting to freeze me to death. I made it known that I wanted to return indoors. Reluctantly, the children and I returned to the warmth.
I particularly liked the warmth given off by the contraption Pa called a “heater.” I figured I could spend the rest of my life lying next to it.
When the white sky-things covered the ground outside, I realized that we were in a dire situation. However, Family was not worried. Once again, the children donned their heavy apparel and dragged me outside. No more sky-things fell. The ground was a sea of white. I took a furtive step into the sea. The cold was sensational. The kids hopped around madly. I decided to leap into the unknown. Immediately I disappeared under the still surface of the White Sea. Panic overwhelmed me. I thought for sure that I would die. Then, I felt hand close around my body and pull me upwards. I was freed from death’s grip! There was laughter among the children. Animals! I yelled at them in my canine tongue. The boy set me down in the snow once more, and when my feet hit the surface, I thought I would sink again. But the White Sea was shallow in this spot. I proceeded to walk around and explore this strange, seemingly harmless phenomenon. I sampled some of the cold floor. The cold as it traveled down my throat was exquisite. I had to have more!
I must have had too much of the Sea because soon enough, I had to empty my bladder. There wasn’t a place that wasn’t pristine white. I couldn’t taint it. I also couldn’t hold my urine any longer. I relieved myself in the spot in which I stood. The White Sea had grown a patch of yellow! At the time, I was not aware of the color of my urine. So, I tried a mouthful of the odd yellow patch. Never again will I make that mistake.
Seven months later…
The Snow did not melt until four months ago. I know this because Mumsy looked outside one day and said “Kids! It’s almost March. The snow will be melting soon!” I figured the White Sea would be snow.
There was a great commotion in the house. Large boxes were being brought into the home. Things were being taken apart or wrapped in bubbles and placed in the boxes. This odd human procedure is known as “moving.” I wondered what made this act of moving any different than the moving they did in their everyday life.
Strange, burly men came in towering, square Cars. The girl informed me that they were “Movers” and that I should be excited. The Movers were peculiar creatures. It appeared as if they had no home, and only manifested themselves in the morning time, then disappeared in the afternoons. They would take our furniture and put it into their Car. I watched them, and waited for them to return what they had stolen. Mumsy would give them a glass of water, which they hungrily drank. Had they no shame? One should lap their water, not pour it down their throat! When Family drank the way humans do, it annoyed me, for I thought they had class. I did not know that it is acceptable to pour beverages into an open mouth.
The Movers stopped visiting, but only after they absconded with our belongings and drank gallons of water. As with the Snow, Pa and Mumsy were not worried. They were Smiling again. I concluded that the two were insane. The boy and girl were restless, shouting “Today is The Day!” repeatedly. I had no clue why this did in particular was any more significant than any other, and I wondered how often The Day occurred. I was not a big fan of The Day. Our large home was bare. There was nowhere for me to lie down, only hardwood floor. Where were the carpets?!
We piled into the Car after Family stood together and stared at the home. Their reason for staring at a home they had seen every day for seven years was never relayed to me. I gathered that they came to their senses, and were upset that the Movers robbed them of their belongings. The girl made me wave my paw at the house to “say goodbye.” I thought this was odd, for I was certain we would be returning soon.
Family and I were in the car for what seemed to be an eternity. Pa told Family at the end of the trip that we arrived in Florida. I knew nothing of the place; only that it was very far from the house in New Jersey. I enjoy Florida to this day because of the ever-lasting warmth that permeates the air. It reminds me of the heater from my childhood.
In the car, we glided to our new home. I say glided because that is the most accurate description of our movement in the Car. The outside would whip by, and many scents would fly into my nose through the open window, yet the inside of the Car would remain motionless. Another odd, human event.
This “new home” was very extraordinary. In my experience, a new home was full of furniture and smells; it was three stories high and had a white exterior with green borders and flowers. This home was nothing like that. In fact, it was the exact opposite. The house was empty; it was devoid of any interesting smells and furniture. The outside was a soft tan color. There was a sparkling, blue body of water in the backyard (“a pool!” said the girl). I investigated the home for Family, in case there were hidden dangers.
We stayed there for one night, without furniture, or carpets. I did not understand why the house did not have carpets. It was torture finding a place to sleep. Family brought these objects that Pa would connect to a black noise-maker and the objects would grow. Pa and Mumsy slept on one of the objects, and the boy and girl on the other. I assumed Pa was a magician, for he had many tricks, like growing those objects and controlling the Car.
The Movers returned. Well, they were Movers, but not the same ones from New Jersey. All that I cared about was that these Movers were kind, and they brought back the furniture the other Movers stole from us. In fact, these Movers even offered to help put the boxes in everyone’s rooms (it was that day that I learned what “rooms” were). I happily ignored their ritual of pouring water into their mouth.
When the kind movers left our home, there were boxes everywhere. Pa and the boy got to work. The boy was almost as big as Pa, and I wondered if the boy would turn into Pa. They were already looking very similar to each other. The boy reminded me of Pa, but the boy had a particularly calming air about him. Unlike the girl or Mumsy, the boy would rather just sit in silence staring at a block of paper (I think they’re called books) than play a game or go for a run. I enjoy the quiet as much as I enjoy the heat. It is a pleasant experience.
Two years later…
I grew quite attached to the home. Mumsy called the home “Baymoor.” I can only describe Baymoor as a tropical paradise, one that was full of adventure and diversions. I discovered these strange green creatures about the size of my paw. They moved quickly and clambered up walls and plants, just outside of my reach. They were merely a small nuisance compared to the larger creatures. To this day these large menaces taunt me with their ability to climb trees. They are the length of one of my legs, gray, and have large bushy tails. They are also very annoying. Once when I was basking in the sun, one Menace scurried up our enclosed backyard fence, daring me to chase it. I could not resist the chase; any chase is a good chase. I did my best to stealthily sneak up on it, but the Menace leaped off the fence into the trees, never to be seen again. I vowed to catch any Menace I encountered again. My two years at Baymoor were plagued by frequent visits from my clever, acrobatic nemeses. I never understood how many of them there were. I imagine there is an army of them waiting for my demise. For some reason, Mumsy laughed at my attempts to rid the world of these pests. Did my struggle entertain her? I did not find it funny. When the children arrived from School and Pa from Work, Mumsy would tell them about my war with the Menaces. “Xena loves to chase the squirrels!” she chuckled. Squirrels! Even their name sounded like the dregs of life that they are. I still choose to call them Menaces.
Mumsy and I explored much of the neighborhood in our time at Baymoor. I met other dogs, whose inquisitive noses brought about the memories of my siblings. How were they anyway?
Family took me to plenty of horrible places, despite their good intentions. We went to what I can only describe as an oppressive, maniacal facility where men in white coats are determined to give you a scarring life experience. I remember clearly when the Monster in White got behind me and stuck a freezing cold metal tube up my rear end. I remember vaguely that Mother warned me about the dreaded thermometer. I sleep at night praying for the destruction of the facility.
Family made me go to a “dog park” on many occasions. They did not tell me that there would be other dogs there. I do not mind other dogs, from afar. But once they close, they feel the urge to invade my personal space. Call me a hypocrite, but I like to sniff others’ rears; I don’t like others sniffing my rear. It’s barbaric! They crowd around me like children, all wanting to play one game or another. Much to the amusement of the girl, I was backed into a corner as the other dogs poked and prodded me with their noses. They all wanted to know who I was and where I came from. “None of your business” was not a satisfying answer to them for some reason.
We Moved again. We’d only spent two years at Baymoor, and yet we were moving again. I hoped it was not to some faraway place like Work or School where Family would disappear for hours every day, leaving Mumsy and I alone. Once again, the Movers returned. Except, this time, they were different Movers. Like the Menaces, I believe there must be an army of Movers as well. I wish we had the second group of Movers again, because this group was stealing our furniture just like the first group of Movers did. I was annoyed that Family allowed this to happen a second time, but I loved them nonetheless. The boy was big enough to help Pa and the Movers, but it seems the girl never outgrew playing with me. For that, I am grateful.
The Day had returned. The house was empty, the carpets were gone, and once again Family stared at Baymoor. I silently wished that this would not be a recurring event.
Our next home was in a place that Pa and Mumsy declared as “Legends.” This time, the Movers who stole our belongings returned them. I guess they felt guilty about taking off with our possessions. They even brought boxes up the stairs in to the new home as an act of good intention.
Once again, we had the house to ourselves, plus some boxes. It is at this home that I am certain we will remain forever. I can find no logical reason for leaving; there is an outdoor patio for me to bask in the sun; there is a window in the boy’s room out of which I can look and alert the family of intruders like the man who follows his dog on a leash every day or the little girl across the street who knocks on our door.
Of one thing I am certain, and it is that this is the perfect family for me.
Pa comes home after disappearing in his Car to go to Work. He walks in the door shouting “Hello Family! I’m home!” all the while scratching that spot just behind my ear. How I love getting scratched there!
Mumsy stays home with me for most of the day. She and I go for a run, and on occasion, she permits me to chase a Menace up a tree. It is with Mumsy that I discover new scents and satisfy my endless hunger for adventure.
The boy allows me to sit in his room while he plays his Trumpet. He played it in Baymoor, but then the only sound that came out was most similar to the sounds Family makes whenever one of Family sits on the their Potty (the girl told me it could be either “potty” or “loo”). Now, he plays music that does not scare me away, or remind me of humans using the Potty. Sometimes, he and I sit in silence in the Living Room, and we listen to each other breathe.
The girl is my most favorite. She never ceases to amaze me. Even when she appears to be tired, she finds time to play a game with me. Sometimes she sings the strange songs that come out of the Sound Box on in the Kitchen to me. Other times she runs and jumps around the house with me. We have an indescribable amount of fun.
I am living a happy life now. I remember Mother’s prediction that I would love this family, and I concur. I feel—no, I know— that there is no other way I’d rather be living.
I must close the Computer now. If Family discovered that I learned to type, they’d kick me out onto the Street. There are no carpets out there.