My name is Jack. Let me tell you about my life.
I live in a little house. It is quite simple – just a roof, some walls and the floor. It is only one room and very small. Not much bigger than me in fact. There is an old towel that covers the floor and provides me with a little warmth and comfort.
My house is just outside of the huge mansion that is owned by my boss. He lives there with his family. The whole family is my boss and I do what I am told by each of them. It is easier this way. A few times I disobeyed the boss or his children and I was punished, sometimes even beaten. The beatings were not hard, just enough to remind me of my place. Now I always do what I am told. I keep my head down and get by. Sometimes I don’t understand what I am being asked to do. I try to guess and most of the time things work out okay.
My boss and his family and generally quite good to me, better than some of my friends are treated. I like it when the boss calls me over to sit near him. This makes me proud. He shows me affection at times, slaps me on the back and praises me. This makes me feel good. I think that he and his family love me. I love them for they are the only family I have got. And although I am not free, I have never known what freedom is. And at least I am free to walk around most of the day, keep to myself, and lie in the sun.
My boss feeds me twice a day. The food is hard and dry, and always the same… but it’s edible, and I don’t complain, as it is all I get. Hard dry food is better than no food at all. Sometimes I even get a treat – something tasty and full of meat. I love those days. They make me happy.
I don’t have much but I am happy most of the time. Often I see my boss or his wife upset. They seem to be stressed a lot. I don’t understand why. They have a big house. They eat good food. They own lots of furniture and they dress in nice clothes. I wonder if I am happier than they are because I don’t have any of these things…Maybe these things they have make them want more things. But hey, what would I know? Maybe they are happy and I just can’t see it. What is happy anyway? I think I am happiest when I am walking around and smelling the flowers, or when I lie in the sun and just enjoy the warmth on my back.
The boss takes me outside the boundary fence most days. He or his wife will walk alongside me as we stroll the roads. We go to a big open park area and run around. I see some of my friends when we go on these walks. We catch-up quickly before my boss calls me back. He ties me up with a rope and then we walk home again. I don’t like the rope – it hurts my neck. The rope is to make sure I don’t runaway. I wouldn’t runaway even if I could. Where would I go? I don’t know anything else. This is my life. I did not choose it. It chose me… so be it.
I cannot change who or what I am, but I know deep down that I am more than just my body – more than my legs and ears and eyes, more than my simple thoughts. What am I then? I know that the boss and I are different. I am much smaller for one thing, and a different colour. There are so many differences between us. Many similarities too, but I know that we are different. He and his family, even his friends that visit are different to me. I must do what my boss tells me but he never does as I say. I don’t think he understands me. He looks at me strangely when I speak and he doesn’t appear to comprehend what I say. I think that he thinks that I am stupid. I know I am not as smart as him, but that’s okay. I don’t want to be smart. I just want to get by, enjoy the sun on my back and relax without thought.
I have a good life most of the time. I am even allowed in my boss’s house after the sun disappears. I stay with his family and feel a sense of love, a sense of belonging. The boss and his family are the only family I have. I never knew my mum and dad. I don’t even know if I had brothers or sisters. I only remember a feeling of warmth and then I was taken from that warmth and I was scared. That’s all I remember. Every memory after that is with this family. When I am with the family at night, it reminds me of that warm feeling from long ago. Then the boss sends me back to my little house and I feel cold again, and I wish to be back in the big house with him and his family. It is lonely in my little house. I close my eyes and fall asleep. I dream of running through the fields with my real brothers and sisters and this helps me through the night.
Each week my boss comes and cleans me. He hoses me down with cold water. I hate the water. It hurts and it is freezing cold. I don’t understand why my boss does this to me each week. I think it is to make sure I know that he is boss and that I must obey him. Afterwards I run around and until I am dry again and then I lie in the sun and forget all about it. Then I feel happy again, happy and warm and life is good
The worst days of my life are when the boss takes me away in his car. It happens sometimes when I am sick and other times for no reason at all. We always go to the same place. It is white and smells strange – clean, really clean. A man in a coat feels me up and down with his hands. He puts a metal instrument over my heart and listens. He then talks to my boss, never to me. This makes me angry. I wish he’d tell me what is wrong. Why I am in this strange place? Sometimes we leave these strange meetings and go back home. Sometimes the man in the coat makes me eat a tablet or users a needle to inject some strange fluid into my body. I am always scared when I am in that room because I don’t know what is happening and it often ends in pain or with needles. Sometimes I fall asleep. I wake up in a small room, alone, in terrible pain. I don’t know what has happened. I see areas of my body have been cut open and stitched back together. I know that the man in the coat has been inside my body. I wonder if he has taken something important out like the thing that makes me what I am. When this happens, I lie there and cry until my boss comes and takes me back to my little home outside his big home. I stay in my small and simple house for days, sad and in pain. My boss is extra good to me on these occasions. He comes down to check on me. He gives me tablets and pats me on the back. I don’t know if the tablets make me better or worse. They make me feel nice and warm for a time and then the pain comes back stronger than ever. Then one day the pain goes away and I feel good again. I get up gingerly and walk outside. The sun is still shining and I feel happy once more. Then it is time to eat twice a day. The same dry food. To walk with my boss tied to him with a rope around my neck. To avoid trouble by doing what I am told. To get by so I can lie down near my boss, the sun on my back, thinking about nothing at all.
I am Jack and I am a dog… and this is my life.