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Life as the First Dog

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(7/2015) I left my mom and dad when I was only a few weeks old. I didnít really get a chance to know them but from what I remember they always seemed great. Mom continuously made sure that each of her children had gotten enough to eat, and she and dad always kept a watchful eye on us.

My brothers, sisters and I loved to play and as we grew we tended to get into trouble by knocking over a thing or two or pulling something off the table when we werenít suppose to. But for the most part, our parents were patient with us because we were only just learning. Occasionally people would come and visit us. They always spoke so sweetly and made a lot of sounds like "aww," I took that as a compliment.

In a short amount of time, my brothers and sisters started to leave. I wasnít really sure where they were going but I missed them a lot. Soon enough, a family came to visit and to my surprise, they gave me a lot of attention.

Of course, I enjoyed this! The girls scooped me up in their arms and I licked them with joy. Before long they put a collar around my neck and carried me out to their car. All of us drove home together and I realized that this was the start of my new life with my new family.

I moved into a big house with lots of rooms that all seemed to be called by their color or their shape like the Blue, Green, Red Room, or the Oval Office. The walls are all covered in paintings and portraits; most of them are of people Iíve never met. When I was young I used to explore as much as possible but I tended to get in trouble by going some place I wasnít suppose to be. It was easy to squeeze between and around things when I was littler. Since then I have learned that there are just certain places I am not allowed to go into and though the curiosity of what lies behind those closed doors may kill a cat, it doesnít bother me much.

Throughout each day, the house is filled with the sounds of various footsteps from pretty much every direction. Some are loud, some are soft, some from high heels, some from dress shoes, and some with happier beats than others. Though there are a lot to attend to I have learned to differentiate the sounds of my masterís from the others and he has a daily routine that I know by heart, at least most of the time.

In the early mornings, he rises and gets ready for the day. Each one always seems so busy. He tends to get dressed up in formal clothes and he wears something called a "tie" that looks like a collar with a leash attached to it. When he finally makes his way down the hall into his office, I quietly sneak in behind him. He always catches me but if he isnít too rushed he will let me follow. He starts by plopping down into his chair and looking at the piles of papers stacked up on his desk. After putting on his glasses and picking up a pen in his left hand, he begins to go through each of them. I watch in silence as I lay down on the oval rug.

Through the northeast door, my masterís secretary comes in and out delivering messages. Some seem to please him and some make him sigh and rest his hands on his forehead. My master has frequent visitors who discuss topics with him for hours. Some of them I know very well and have known since I was a puppy while others I have to be introduced to by sniffing them thoroughly. On occasion my master has special guests visit. These special guests are always smiling and laughing. Sometimes they bring me treats and there have been instances when they even give me more attention than my master, which I eagerly accept!

The continuation of our daily routines usually consists of walking around to various rooms for meetings. Sometimes I attend, while other times I beg to go out into the Rose Garden where I wait in earnest to see a squirrel. I donít know much about other dogsí lives but I do know that mine is different. When I was little, I used to try to run outside through the front lawn as far as I could. There are always so many people at my front gate and I used to not be sure why. Some of them wanted to play with me and some had other dogs with them that looked like they could be my friends. However, whenever I got too close, one of the security members always tracked me down and hooked a leash to my collar to lead me back inside. There was one time when they tried to put the leash on my collar and I kept running away. I just wanted to play chase with them but they didnít think it was very amusing!

When I was about four years old, in human years, my family brought home another dog that they named Sunny. Sunny became my sister and my partner in crime. Though I think we are both well behaved, sometimes we just get so excited that we canít help but show it! We love to run and play fetch but both of our favorite part of the day is after dinner. Each night after our family is done eating their meals they take us for a walk. Our other master, who the humans call the First Lady, frequently stresses the importance of exercise and healthy life styles so we never miss a dayís walk. Even we have to maintain a high activity level!

It seems that my home is always full of excitement. My family and all of those who come in and out of my home on a regular basis seem to always be celebrating something. Sometimes there are big trees with lights throughout the house, sometimes the smell of turkey floods the air, and sometimes there are birthday cakes and balloons. Yet, there is one time of the year that seems extra special and that time is right now.

My vision isnít exactly the same as yours so I am not really sure what I am seeing. I know the decorations are white and I believe the second color is blue but the third color I canít really make outÖI think you call it red. These colors appear throughout my house on a regular basis but for a month of the year they are even more prominent. Banners hang inside and outside and little flags line the yard.

This holiday once confused me but luckily Malia once explained it to me when she was young and just learning about it herself. She told me that it was an important holiday and that it symbolizes the birth of our country (and ironically her own birthday).

The whole "country" concept kind of baffled me. You see, Iím a Portuguese water dog so technically I orientate from Portugal. Thankfully, Malia reassured me that I too could be an American just like the rest of my family. I canít complain. I have it pretty good. I have a family to love me, a White House to roam, and the occasional squirrel to chaseóIím not sure if these luxuries exist in any other country but I am sure glad that they exist in mine.

It has been almost seven human years since I became part of my forever family. To you, seven might not seem like a very long time, but in dog years I have aged from a newborn puppy to a senior citizen. Itís hard to believe that I am now nearly 50 years old if you calculate it correctly, although I try to not let my age show. Each of these years I have remembered the celebrations for this special holiday called the Fourth of July. They all start with a parade of many talented people who skip down the streets with flags and instruments followed by a cookout where I try to sneak a few hot dogs and a lick of potato salad. Then the day ends with lighting bugs blinking throughout the sky and sparks that illuminate the darkness while cheers erupt from the crowds of people who are filled with pride and American spirit.

Through it all, I too, am filled with as much pride and American spirit that a dog could possibly have. Iíll wear my most patriotic collar and strut around representing our country as best as I can. And while you all are out there sitting on blankets and enjoying the evening shows, I will be proud to be an American where at least I know I can hide under the bed from the thunderous fireworks.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen