It was about a month later, when I and my littermates turned eight weeks, that I left home. We were making a family trip to the vet’s office, and the two humans I now know as Woman and Man met us at the vet. Woman took me gently from my previous human’s arms, and petted me and spoke to me during my vet visit. At the end of it all, after a brief walk in the grass outside the clinic, I was in the car in Woman’s lap while Man drove us to my new home. That first afternoon was somewhat of a blur for me. I remember the warmth and the soft voices and the petting, but I slept most of the way. During my moments of wakefulness, I did feel some guilt to be leaving and moving on without knowing what had happened to Orange Boy.
I knew that I was off to glory. I knew that I was on the road to becoming an adult dog with real responsibilities and a home of his own. Those early days were full of new things and excitement, and I am ashamed to say that sometimes hours would go by without my sparing a thought for my lost brother.
I was given a new name, “Humphrey,” and a kennel to sleep in. I also got a bone and an octopus that I bit and played with. My new humans taught me some of their language and the routine of the house. They taught me “sit” and “down” and “come” and practiced with me. This, though, is every dog’s story–or at least it should be–and I won’t linger on those details.
It was at about this time that I first encountered my mirror double–and as you might imagine, one of my initial hypotheses was that the mirror dog might be Orange Boy. He was my age and about my size. He seemed to like me. The thought both exhilarated and scared me. However, as I have related elsewhere, I soon discovered that the dog in the mirror was only me.
During an early trip to the beach with Woman and Man, I was indulging my love of exploration, sniffing the trails of people, dogs, and other beasts, tasting the salty overcoat of all the sand and rocks, and prancing away from the moving water, when I came across a scent I knew. Man started to pull me away on the leash, walking in another direction, but before he did, I was nearly certain of what I had smelled: Orange Boy. I was not wholly sure though; the smell could have belonged to another sibling: we did all share certain traits and I did not know where my brothers and sisters had begun their new lives.
In my new post as family companion and guard dog, I quickly developed talents which I will share with you here, not as a means of bragging, but so that the Reader may better understand the young pup I was and the dog that I became. I learned to hear when moose or other animals were about. I also worked on my ability to understand human emotion and language, at which I became increasingly skilled–so much so that I could often, even at that time, discern the emotions and thoughts of Man and Woman and so make a better companion for them.