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Growing Up

"Lottie trains for work and changes the course of history..."

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Author's Notes

""This series was inspired by the true tale of a dog called Bretagne, and will explore events in US history from the first decade of this century. Think "Forrest Gump" but told by a Labrador. I hope you enjoy it!"

My new owners were called Betty and Joe. They were much older than Jack and Lizzie and there were no children to play with, but they had a bigger house, and, in this place, I wasn’t kept in the yard. I could go anywhere, pretty much, except I soon learned to get off the sofa if I heard them coming home. I spent the first weeks at my new home learning all the fun places to roll around, where the warm pipes under the carpet were (for naps) and working out when I could expect to be walked and fed. 

Now for some reason, Betty and Joe started calling me by a new name. They called me Lottie, which was weird because I was “Masie” with my first family. But I guess she didn’t like that name, so she gave me a new one. Luckily, no one ever changed it again because learning new words is hard enough for a dog.

I had a very strange experience at this time. My new owner took me to the vet. I was scared, because I remembered having my shots, and they hurt a lot. But this time, she just gave me one little shot and put me right to sleep! I woke up and felt a bit strange. There was a sort of pain near my bottom, but it didn’t last long. It wasn’t until I got up to heaven, though, that someone told me, “Lottie, you’d been spade. That meant that you couldn’t have any puppies!”

This was very strange to me, as I remembered a spade being something little Sarah played with in her sandpit, and I don’t know what that had to do with puppies. Oh well.

They lived in New York, but Betty and Joe went away from home quite a lot, and they always took me. We often went to a nice place with beaches called Florida. One day, when I hadn’t been with them very long and I was still very young, we went out walking and we found a big crowd of people. There was a man standing and talking at a high table and there were lots of people, so it was a bit scary for a small dog.

Seeing me, a woman rushed over and spoke with Betty. I don’t know what she said, but it must have been nice because Betty gave me to that woman, and the woman gave me to the funny little man who was speaking! For no particular reason, people cheered and clapped and pointed those weird clicky things at me, and the man held me up and smiled, but all I could hear was one word, “MisterBush! MisterBush! MisterBush!” and soon I started wriggling and they gave me back to Betty.

Sometime later, when I was up in doggy heaven, they told me that five hundred and thirty-seven people in Florida had changed their minds about that man, because I was so cute. Those five hundred and thirty-seven nice folks decided he should go to some place called a White House, and he did, but what he did there, I don’t know.

One day, Betty took me in the car to this strange place. They put me in a cage with a toy and there were other puppies all around me, but they were all as clueless as me as to what was going on.

But it was an amazing day! They got us to do all sorts of fun things. We had to climb over logs. We had to run up planks. We had to go through these sort of blue tunnels, and every time we did well we earned a treat! It was lucky we were getting so much exercise because they gave me so many treats that I would have been sick for sure.

Anyway, the next day I went back to that place. And the next day after that. I was the happiest dog in the world, it was brilliant! I went there every day for a long time and, when I’d mastered climbing over logs and running through the tunnel, we started doing other things.

They gave us things to smell like clothes and rags and pieces of meat. Ten minutes later, we had to find those things in a big room. I don’t know why they kept losing these things or why it was so important that I had to find them, but it wasn’t really hard. I remember they said,

“Find the tug, Lottie, find the tug!” They said it so many times that I learnt it off by heart, and every time I found the tug they’d say,

“Good girl!” and pet me, which always set my tail wagging so hard that it hurt, and I began to wish they wouldn’t say it so much.

It was while I was learning all these amazing things that I met someone who would be very special to me. We were outside playing, and someone threw a ball in my direction. I hurried across to pick it up. But just as I was about to, another dog raced over and nosed it out of the way! Well, I wasn’t having that! I lunged for the ball, but the other dog, who I could see was a boy, jumped in too! He growled at me playfully and I jumped towards him, then we rolled about in a heap on the floor. I gave his ear a playful bite and he put his jaws around my head, not painfully, of course. We bounced, hopped, bent and wiggled. We cuffed each other with our paws, then I took a discrete sniff to make sure we really could be friends. Yeah, he was cool.

Our handlers called us back to them, and that was how I first heard his name, which was Charlie. Charlie was black, but he was a labrador, just the same type and size of dog as me. I mean, what does the colour of your fur have to do with friendship, right? We used to rough and tumble about until, eventually, the handlers separated us when we were supposed to be learning.

But that was okay because Betty and Joe saw that we were friends. They began taking me to meet Charlie in the park, and we had lots of fun. Sometimes, other dogs would come, and we’d play with them. Occasionally, one of those dogs was mean and we’d growl and bark together to scare them off, which usually worked as there were two of us. But we always had each other’s back.

So, I went to this training place for about a year. For some reason, the people stopped using tugs and began to lie down in weird places and we’d have to find them. I guess they just liked playing hide and seek.

 I grew a lot in that time, of course. I did notice, because all the other dogs were growing too. I remember thinking things like, ‘Charlie’s tail didn’t hurt so much before, I wonder why?’ and ‘Why are there so many tiny dogs out in the park?’ Of course, when they explained to me in heaven, they said, “Lottie, those were baby dogs! You had become a grown-up!”

Finally, it made sense. At first, I felt very silly. But nobody had explained it to me!

Honestly, I would have been happy if my time at school had gone on forever. But, after a year’s training when I was 19 months old, I left the center for the last time. They pinned a nice purple thing on me and made me sit next to Betty and Charlie and they had these weird things that they pointed at me and clicked, but that was ok because it didn’t hurt. And they said that word I’d heard on my first day with Betty a lot. It was “snifferdog” this and “snifferdog that” all day.

Not long after that, I started work, out in the wide world. And on almost my first week, I stepped into the pages of history.

Written by MireiaC1982
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