There once was a joyful, sprightly Puppy who was adopted by Man and brought to a new home. Puppy was full of wonder and energy and cheer and he loved his new abode. Most of all Puppy loved his master, Man, and how he played with him and rubbed his tummy and gave him treats and took care of all his needs. Heck, Man even cleaned up after him in the yard and so he could do his duty whenever and wherever he wanted and needn’t ever give it another thought.
As Puppy grew into Dog, there was nothing he wanted to do more than to please his Master. Yes, there were always the temptations to steal food off the table or to chew on the furniture, and sometimes Dog gave into his proclivities, but when he saw Man, he was always filled with remorse for his failures and sought Man’s forgiveness. Conversely, Dog loved to hear the words, “Good Boy” whenever he did something right.
When Dog was brought into the home, he also became brother to Cat and Bird who were already part of the family. Cat was a crafty, seasoned soul who knew the lay of the land, and while at times fickle and cantankerous, could guide Dog in the way things are. Bird was a chirpy little fellow who provided conversation and companionship to Dog.
Cat taught Dog how to please his Master. Although Cat capriciously neglected his own instruction many a time, he still trained Dog about the importance of listening to Man and waiting on his needs and protecting him. Protecting Man and his ways of being was the big one. It went far beyond aggressively barking at any stranger who entered the house and possibly posed a danger to Man. Such as all those squirrels out in the yard, Cat told Dog, even though Man at times fed them and allowed them to keep their nests in the shed, it was Dog’s job to protect Man from them. Because if the squirrels were left to do whatever they want, they would certainly infest the house and make things worse for everybody. And so, Dog was to chase away any squirrel he may see as this would protect Man and keep the house just as it should be.
And as for Bird, Cat said, yes he lives in the house, but Dog couldn’t let Bird take up much of Man’s time and attention because Man has more important things to do. Bird, you see, Cat said, sometimes starts squawking about not having the same privileges as you and I and wants to make things difficult for Man. He wants to be fully free from his cage and have full roam of the house. This would not be good for Man and his ways, Cat said, and so Dog must reject Bird’s pleas and keep him in his place.
Before long, Woman suddenly appeared. And she kept appearing more and more as time went on until one day there was a big ceremony and she became part of the family, too. Dog liked Woman, but Cat warned him about her. She’s cunning, Cat said, and is out to harm Man, and so Dog must treat her like the enemy to protect Man and the ways of the house.
Dog was often at first unsure about the things Cat told him, especially about Woman. Yet, Cat definitely said some things that were true, he reasoned, Those squirrels certainly at times have shown themselves to be troublemakers, and Bird can be his own worst enemy with the way he acts out when he doesn’t get his way. And he had seen times, himself, where Woman did something bad like gossip about the neighbors or gruffly snap at Man. But other things just didn’t seem to quite add up. Furthermore, some things Cat told him even seemed to go against how Man had taught him to behave. But Dog loved Man, and he wanted to please him, and he knew how important it was that he protect him and the ways of the house, so over time Dog increasingly accepted Cat’s advice. It became second nature for Dog to viciously chase away the squirrels and to keep Bird in his place whenever he started acting out, and to always keep a watchful eye on Woman, acting surly and combatively towards her. He did these things because he loved Man and knew them to be right.
One day, Man got upset with Woman and accused her of cheating on him. Dog witnessed this and took umbrage at her and set out all the more to protect Man from this woman. Even more, Cat told him about how Woman was always texting when Man wasn’t around and sometimes even talked to other guys on the phone. Surely, what Cat was saying was proof of Woman’s guilt, as he knew this woman to be capable of great evil. Hence, Dog treated Woman all the more so crudely and poorly.
Some day later on, however, Man had a talking to with Dog. He told him that he wished Dog would treat Woman better. He told him about how he saw Dog was so nice to her at first, but over time had become increasingly mean and disrespectful toward her. He told Dog that he, himself, was guilty at times of not treating Woman right either, such as when he accused her of cheating when he was upset about other things and acted on faulty assumptions. But Man said he would always try his best to apologize for his wrongs and make things right with Woman.
He also told Dog about how he had seen him change over the years from when he first brought him home. He told Dog how he used to be such a joyful, free-loving creature, but over time he had progressively become more grouchy and snide and seemingly fearful of anything that might interfere with his ways of being. He had seen this behavior not only with Woman, but also with others such as Bird and even the squirrels who lived outside. He said he always appreciated Dog’s love and loyalty to him, but wanted him to treat others better. He would always love Dog, Man told him, and only wished that Dog in turn could show the same type of love to others.
Dog thought, “But I’ve only done this for you. I’m only ever trying to make sure that things are done right as you would wish.” He was confused by what his master was telling him now as it didn’t line up with what he had always known that Man wanted. Furthermore, it didn’t mesh with many things that Cat had taught him.
Dog now had a choice. He could act on what Man had just told him and change his ways accordingly. Or he could go with his gut and write this off as just a moment of confusion for Man and continue to act on what he was so sure to be true.
What was Dog to do? What is he to do when something so certain and unassailable suddenly isn’t quite so? His decision will have plenty of implications for him and Man and his family and how they all function. It is an important and widely consequential choice and one he never foresaw coming. What is Dog to do?