In mid-September last year and hurricane was headed for North Carolina. We decided to head west to visit relatives in Tennessee to avoid the storm. While there I was working on Manitou. One afternoon I became frustrated when I realized I would have to trash part of the story and start over. I closed the file to cool off. Once settled, I opened a new window and wrote the following little puff piece. It is short and some may think silly, but I like it. And that’s what counts.
Kenjo On Guard
Leader is home. I recognize the rumble I always hear just before he comes in. I race to the door he always uses. I always miss him when he goes away. He enters saying, “Down, Kenjo.” He knows I want to jump up and lick him to show how glad I am he’s home. Not-Leader is with him. The three of us are pack. She has not been here for a few days and I was concerned about our pack. For as long as I can remember we have had a routine. Most days Leader and Not-Leader leave every morning and return every evening. I stay outside and guard the den. Every sixth and seventh day the routine is gone. Both are in the den most of the time and I get lots of attention. I like that. Sometimes we take trips. I especially love trips. Except to the place where they pour water over me. Sometimes instead I have to go stay at a place with other people like me for a few days. Maybe I was bad. I don’t know.
I am very glad that Not-Leader has returned. She feeds me more often than Leader and frequently slips me treats. I immediately notice she has something in her arms. I also detect a new, unusual smell. Leader takes the bundle and kneels down. I come forward to smell the bundle.
“Kenjo. This is Billy. Protect,” says Leader. I look at the bundle and see a very small person, not a person like me, but a person like Leader. We seem to have a new pack member. Since Leader said ‘protect’ I know the new person is one of us. I lick the little one’s face. He makes a gurgling noise. It seems to please Leader and Not-Leader. His smell and taste is like a mixture of my other two pack members. I like that.
I follow as they take the new one to a room that is rarely used. They have a raised crate similar to the one I had to sleep in when I first came to the pack. I am confident that once he knows the house rules Leader will let him out to run and play.
Later that night Leader and Not-Leader go to their sleeping place. I usually sleep at their feet but not tonight. I hear Not-Leader ask Leader “Where’s Kenjo?” “I don’t know,” he replies. I am not in my usual place. I have to check that the little one is safe before I can sleep.
Standing in the little one’s room I am not satisfied with how things are arranged. Leader and Not-Leader are frequently oblivious to all the dangers surrounding us. They rely on me to protect them. So, I lie down between the crate and the door. No one gets to the little one without going past me first. Don’t worry, little pack mate. Kenjo is on guard. As long as I breathe, I will protect.