I am the Wolf King.
Or at least, I used to be the Wolf King.
Lately I’ve been The Old Dog Who Can Hardly Get Down The Stairs.
What can I say? Time goes on, and arthritis hits hard.
For the past few weeks, I have had to contend with the humiliating prospect of a young pup, constantly jumping up to nip my ears or grab my collar. Always trying to get me to jump and play.
Annoying little fool. I have gone along with him as often as I could, but sometimes I just wanted to smack him. I have barked and growled at him so much that my royal voice is getting really creaky.
Today was a sunny day, and the air was crisp and cold. The yard was filled with fresh white snow, and birds filled our feeders.
The puppy, so foolishly named “Lennie,” was whining to go out. Woman Who Feeds Me made those sickening little cooing noises at him, and soon he was wearing his blaze orange collar.
I stood, slowly and regally. I do not beg to go outside.
But I don’t say “no”, either. I waited, aloof and calm, as the Woman Who Feeds Me put on my bra…. I mean, my Wolf King harness.
We headed out into the cold.
For a few minutes, I walked calmly alongside the Woman. The small, annoying puppy ran in circles around us, barking and yipping and racing in and out of the woods.
After a while, I noticed that my leash seemed very lax. I was able to wander away from the Woman Who Feeds Me without feeling the tug of the leash. Hmm.
Suddenly, a truck pulled into our driveway. Somewhere, deep in my brain, I remembered that I am the Wolf King; the protector of our castle. I began to bark. I ran toward the truck.
A though went zinging through my head.
“Hey! I’m running, and there’s no leash.” I glanced back at Woman Who Feeds Me.
Sure enough, she looked guilty.
“Tucker, come!” she called. She held out a tiny cookie.
One. Tiny. Cookie.
Ordinarily, I would walk on hot coals to get one of those cookies. But now. Now the cold wind was rushing through the woods. The smells of deer and moose and birds and fox came wafting toward me. I lifted my head. I sniffed.
I looked back at Woman Who Feeds Me. Her hand was out. Her voice sounded stressed.
I looked forward, toward the woods. I saw the puppy, running free, racing in circles.
My old eyes met the worried eyes of my Mistress.
“Adios!” I barked. And I raced like the wind away from the yard and into the woods.
Oh, OK. Mostly I didn’t really race. I sort of lumbered. And limped a bit. But I still went into the woods with the puppy dancing around me.
It was glorious. It was heaven. It was freedom, remembered from a time long ago.
It. Was. The. Best.
After a while, Woman Who Feeds Me, Annoying Puppy, Poopie Baby and Young Woman With Treats all went back inside the house. They called me to come.
But I would not be tempted back inside.
No. The Wolf King decided to sit outside of the house. Resting in the deep snow. With freezing ice pellets sticking to my niblets.
My back was aching like you read about, what with all the running through the woods, jumping over fallen trees, avoiding puppy kisses, and climbing over snowbanks.
I kind of wanted to go inside. Back to the fire. And the heat. And the cookies.
And the couch.
But I remained firm. I stayed out for hours.
I was so proud of my freedom and my strength.
Eventually, as I dozed with my paws held over my half frozen nose, I smelled the intoxicating aroma of cooking chicken livers. The window to the living room had been opened, and the simmering pot placed on the ledge.
“Oh, Woman Who Feeds Me,” I howled. “Have you no shame?”
She was trying to lure me back in.
But I would NOT be moved.
I stood erect ( except for my bendy spine and my splayed-out back legs.) “NO!” I barked with royal strength. “No! I will not yield to the liver! I am the Wolf King and I am FREE!”
I lasted a full four minutes before my aching back, my shaking legs, my frozen niblets and my empty belly got the better of me.
OK. So I came back in.
I got all warm. I ate my liver. I let the Woman and the Baby cuddle me.
I came back in.
But really? I only did it because I could hear that puppy whining for me to come back home to him.
I can’t resist the little goof when he gets all kissy like that.
But don’t be fooled.
If they drop that leash again, I’ll be off.
The Wolf King will be back. You can count on it.
Still as handsome as you ever were.