My name is Nikko. I am a ten year old coonhound mixed with lab.
This is my story.
You might think this story would be about the first ten years of my life. It's not.
I don't remember a whole lot about that time. I remember it was quiet. My world was grey. There weren't very many smells. It was pretty cold, and the ground was hard. There was a lady who brought me food, and brought me water. Sometimes she touched me. Touches bring colours. Sometimes she talked to me. It was nice to not have the quiet. Mostly though, I was alone.
Then I was in a place that was brighter and much noisier. There, there was noise. There, there was so much noise. There was a dog I could hear, he was excited, he was worried, he shouted - all the time.
The ladies there put me in a room with some other dogs. The dogs pushed, they shoved, they stuck their noses in my face and in other parts of me that no one had ever stuck their noses in. They were noisy. I had never met a dog before, suddenly I was meeting many. They made me nervous, so I growled. One of them growled back, so I bit them. Things got kind of crazy after that.
The ladies took me away and put me back in the small space. It was a lot like my last space, only smaller.
I was alone in that space too. There was another dog there for a little while, but I growled at her too. Then I tried to bite her because she growled at me. I didn't know what she wanted, she scared me.
The ladies there came to see me sometimes. Othertimes people took me out. At first, they would be happy with me, smile, talk with bright colours. Later the ladies were mostly sad. One lady was so sad, I tried to rub her with my head to make her happy. I even took all of my medecine for my sores nicely so that she would be happy. Sometimes she rubbed my head and sighed.
One day I heard another human. She was talking to the noisy ones. Her voice was soft and sounded like light. It made things brighter. I could hear her coming closer. I pressed up hard against the bars, I could almost see her.
Then she was there touching me, with gentle hands, smelling of so many things I had never smelled before, rubbing my shoulders and sore ears softly. Her touches brought me rainbows. She knew my name.
Before I knew it, I was outside, in her car with her and her man and we were on our way.
The place we stopped was like nothing I had ever seen before. There was green everywhere. Here too there were dogs. Only two, but they still stuck their noses in my rear and my face. I growled and snapped. They didn't pull me away and put me in a room by myself, they just rubbed me more.
That first night, they gave me a soft, soft bed in a warm home full of humans, cats and other dogs. They took me outside to smell so many things: trees, ponds, rabbit holes, deer bones. More smells than I'd ever imagined in my many dreams.
That first night was the first night of my real life. My real life began when I was ten. Many would say that being ten means that my existence was almost over, but truly, my life was just beginning.