A Dog Story

The Alpha leaves just like always. The Alpha walks out the door, yet I can still smell him. I can still hear his footsteps on the path outside. Walking away. His scent calm, his stride relaxed.

The smell of our morning run is still fresh in my nose and my ears perk as his keys jingle, and drop when his car door slams shut. My heart is pounding as he drives away. The engine recedes into silence and I am alone. Alone in the territory, the house. The Alpha is gone, the pack is split.

I scent the still familiar air of the house, it’s dry and dull. It’s nothing like the scent of the wooded trail we run on each morning. I try to calm myself by visiting those places I have known comfort and safety in. The pack is split, the Alpha is gone and I am left alone. Again, alone. I bound up to the bedroom and sniff the Alpha’s shoes, the bedspread, the laundry. All strong with his scent, but his warmth and heartbeat and voice are gone. His scent is all over. Familiar, yes. Calming, no. The Alpha provides the food and water, but I know how to get to it. I can use my nose to open cabinets, my teeth to shred paper. I can lift the lid of the cold basin in the bathroom to get at the cool refreshing water in there.

The Alpha shouts when I do these things. I am bad when I do these things. I am bad when I provide for myself. The Alpha provides. The Alpha is gone. The cool water in the basin is his, the food is his. The Alpha provides and every day he leaves the territory, every day he leaves me here to protect the territory.

I think of our run and how good it feels to course over the mud and the dirt, free in the world with my pack. How vibrant the scents on the wind, the sounds in the air. The Alpha running next to me, sweating, breathing. I forget about the territory, when I’m out there. When I’m free. When I’m panting and smelling the birds and small animals. The raccoons with their clever musk; the feral cats bristling on the branches of the trees, sharp and keen. I want to run and chase them all with the Alpha at my side and the pack complete. I want to scent their fear on the wind as they scatter before us in terror of my teeth; my speed and fury. When I try, the Alpha calls me back. I listen because without the Alpha I will have no pack. He is the Alpha. His is the gentle hand, the shouting voice. The provider and the punisher.

He is not here now and he may never return. I am the teeth that bite. If this territory is mine I should do my own will. I want to rip the cabinet doors from their hinges and scatter food across the floor. I want to topple the bin where the Alpha throws waste and gnaw through his shoes. He is no Alpha. I am in control. I am the Alpha. Can I not feed myself? Can I not find water? Can I not shout and bound and kill?

I am the Alpha, and when the man comes home I will show him with rending teeth and red claws who is the punisher, and who is the provider.

© Tim Mucci, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tim Mucci with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.