Dinner Time

The door closes; my fleeting view of the hallway narrows to a sliver, then it’s gone. I can still smell the neighbors in my nose.
I heave a sigh and turn away. There are things to do.
I patrol the grounds: kitchen, living room, den, bedroom, living room. I stand sentinel at the living room window. (There’s a bird!) I start my rotation again. My nails (too long, now; someone should really do something about that), tap a soft staccato rhythm into the hardwood floors.
I stop to sniff a scarf carelessly left on a chair. I prod it with my nose and take in the intoxicating layers of smell: the factory where it was made, the store where it was sold, the house of the person who gave it as a gift, and finally of the owner. Her scent I know well. But a new smell lies on top of them all—one of my own kind, but no one I recognize. I inhale one last, deep sniff of the scarf, and then turn away and shake it off. What a great shake, all the way from my nose to my tail!
Moving on…Something interesting happened on the floor over here. What is that? Sweet potato? Pumpkin? Tentatively, I touch my tongue lightly to the spot. Sometimes I smell better with my tongue.
Nope. Still not sure. Must be something new. I take a little longer taste and decide I like it.
What a full morning! I find my bed, pat it down just right, and curl up in a ball; it’s cold, after all. I drift off to sleep, pondering the new smell on the floor.
I wake up with a giant yawn and take a big stretch I can feel in my toes and tail. Time for patrol; maybe something’s changed.
I make another go of the floor, the scarf. The bird has moved on from the window, but I stand guard a few minutes longer in case he comes back. This is how my day passes, patrolling the rooms of our home, checking on the neighborhood, keeping the family safe.
I’m napping when the door opens; someone’s home! I jump up (no stretch this time) and run to the door. In the quiet monotony of my morning and afternoon, the promise of family coming home makes every muscle in my body zing with joy.
Let me tell you about my day! Did you know there was a bird? And that scarf! Where has it been?
You set down all these things you carry and I watch patiently. You start wandering through the house, patrolling the grounds. No need, chief. I’ve got this. We’re all clear.
Now you’re doing that thing with food in the kitchen. It’s my favorite part of the day. Almost. I love watching you working. I especially love when you’re not so good at it and a little something drops on the floor. Floor nibbles are the best kind.
Speaking of nibbles… Oh no, you’re right. You better eat first. I’ve just been protecting the home all day, but whatever. I sit patiently and wait. You eat your dinner off the fancy plate. I only look back at you a few times, to make sure you’re still there. Be cool. Beeee cooool.
You stand up and start walking from room to room, picking up this, putting down that. Your movements are erratic and nonsensical; you don’t smell anything. Still, I follow closely at your heels. Don’t forget about me!
Finally, my patience pays off. You look down at me with all the love in your eyes, a smile quirked on your lips. You ask the question you already know the answer to. “Are you hungry?”
Yes, yes, yesyes, yesyesyesYesYesYesYESYESYES!!! Every cell in my body dances; I can’t decide between my Let’s Play stance and my Front Paw Half-Jump. So, I alternate between the two. You walk toward the Magic Closet, and I start to prance in place. It’s time. It’s happening.
Every moment since the final click of the door shutting on me this morning has led to this: one level cup of dry kibble. I wait off to the side as you pour it in my bowl: chinkedy chinky chink. Let’s Play Stance. Front Paw Half-Jump. Prance prance prance.
As a young one, I inhaled my food. Now, with the wisdom of age, I appreciate these finer moments in life. I savor the food, actually chewing every fifth piece. Funny how the food never changes, but never fails to delight.
Too soon, I’ve eaten the last bit of kibble (but left the half-pill you tried to sneak to me on the floor, thank you very much). I take a quick drink of water, fresh how I like it, and lick my lips. I pad out to find you and put my head on your lap. I thank you with my eyes, pouring love and gratitude from my heart straight to yours. My tail wags and I wait until you acknowledge my thanks with a pat on the head. Satisfied, I turn around and walk away, leaving a puddle of drool and my love on your lap.

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