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Loyalty

It doesn’t know me, this snow that tries to convert me. Though I lie covered in the shimmering white substance, it can only be melted by the little body heat that remains within me; it cannot penetrate my defenses – it cannot seep into the very depths of my soul. It falls from the sky – settles in my fur and all around – blows in the wind, all the while glittering, beckoning for me to join it. But it doesn’t know me. Not at all.


I am a dog, yes; this it knows, for it has paid its visit to me for the past three years, and my form has remained unchanged. It also knows that I have not always been like this. There was a time before these three years in which I welcomed the snow, not yet knowing the sting that follows it, hidden in its deepest crevices. This was a time when I was young and new to this place. A time when the children, too, were young. When my golden coat shone and I was served meals fit for a king. When the water flowed like rivers and the toys fell like rain. A time when I loved and was loved by all, and my humans realized the one truth: that I was meant to be inside, with them. Or, at least, that was what they had seemed to know.


Then, the snow was my friend. I welcomed it into my heart where it swirled amongst my treasures and flowed through my blood, just as I ran through its hills and valleys and shoveled it with my nose. But this snow that I called friend, it came to betray me. Its whispers, once an enticing promise of friendship, now mock me. “Join me,” they say.


“Never,” I assert, for the snow has not yet glimpsed my true nature.


But I know the tricks employed by the snow all too well. I watch as it slowly plays them on the dogs next door, who even now roll around in a bed of powdery white, mingling with the flakes as I once did. They pay me no attention, but I know that any one of them – the sly Chihuahua, the mischievous Maltese, the loveable American Bulldog – could end up as I. And the snow also knows it.


The snow and I know many mutual things, some of which it taught me, others of which I gleaned from surreptitious observation. We both know who I once was, what I am now, and how I came to be in such a dark place. We both witnessed my transformation from a carefree pup to…well, I suppose I could be considered a forgotten soul. One among many.


I could have been something bigger in a past life. Perhaps I had done wrong. I could have been a murderer, a thief, a monster. I was most certainly human, or near to it, as that is what such emotions lead me to believe…such emotions that are telling me this is not right, regardless of my past sins. It is not okay, and it never will be.


The wind whistles, howls, and blows the snow around me, swirling in a never-ending dance they play. Its laugh tells me that it also knows what the snow and I do, but it also knows far more than its accomplice will ever even imagine. While the snow may come and go as it pleases, the wind is all-seeing. It is always here, taunting me. Yes, it whips the snow violently in my face all winter long, but come summer when the snow is long gone, the wind has other mistresses. It flutters through the trees, resuming its dance with a new player and sending leaves floating softly to earth. Yes, summer is when the wind plays with a different tactic, always letting its presence be known but always remaining out of my reach, always evading my grasp; it never brings relief. The wind is an even crueler master than the snow, and it knows it. This, it uses to its advantage in its attempts to recruit me.


But then, this is where I hold knowledge that the snow, and even the wind, cannot. Though they work their tricks, they cannot suppress me. I will not give up. Even when the snow freezes over my water and sends shivers down my spine…when my blood drips down my body, falling from the sores in my neck to course through the snow rather than the veins in which it belongs…when the wind slaps me and beats me down from all sides…when it evades me, and when they both add to my tears, I know deep in my heart that I possess the one thing they cannot. The snow may leave the wind every spring, and the wind may be unfaithful in the time its partner is gone, but I will always be loyal - to a fault.


Even now, as I see the humans’ car pull up the driveway, fighting the wind and crunching the snow beneath its wheels, my ears perk up. As the door opens and a set of boots hits solid ground, I give the ceremonial ‘welcome home’ bark. As feet shuffle past me without so much as a glance, I still spring to my feet, tail wagging and pain nearly forgotten. I know that it won’t do a bit of good, and it may even get me a kick or two, but I’ll always be loyal to the very end. The wind will laugh and waltz with the snow, knowing that I am at death’s door, but even then, it will completely slip their notice, this virtue I retain. The humans, too, will never know, but, faithfully, I’ll remain in one way unchanged. For, though the snow has done its work on them, it will never be able to harden my heart.



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