Deep in his little dog's soul, all Gobi ever wanted was love. The small pup had loved his first human with everything he could give, but suddenly she was gone. Her grown son had come over to their apartment the day after she disappeared and had angrily scooped up Gobi and tossed him in his truck's cab. In spite of Gobi's tentative licks of friendship, the man drove far, far out into the country, slowed down and flung him out of the window onto a dirt road. When Gobi's chin hit the red dirt, it stung. His puppy fat and pliancy saved him from further injury. As he lay there, lightly stunned, in the crushed weeds alongside the backwoods road, a whiff of something in the air distracted him. It was something good; like the aroma of food cooking. Something promising; like the breath of dogs playing. To a four-month-old puppy freshly abandoned in a strange, scary place, it was a miraculous smell of dogs, humans and love. Maybe even home, he dared to hope.
Gobi got up, shook his little dog's body and put his nose high up in the air. A dog's nose knows many things; two of them being distance and direction. Though Gobi's nose, like those of other dogs, can detect and distinguish smells up to eleven miles away, his brain processed the information and told him it was only about three miles to the east. Before heading down the road, however, and as a secondary precaution, he looked around sharply and listened intently. He easily heard the high-frequency squeaks of field mice and innocent chirps of small birds. The deeper sounds indicated no hidden nor immediate dangers. Gobi dragged in another deep and informative sniff, and with hope paving the way, he took off as fast as his young, abbreviated legs could carry him. Love was in the air, and that being Gobi's greatest desire, he didn't want to miss any opportunity to be a part of it.
The squirrels and armadillos who weren't napping that afternoon saw a short, brown pup streaking down the dusty road. Gobi flashed past the blooming dogwoods and towering loblolly pines. He scampered up hills and once, but only once, tumbled down the road onto a strip of winecups and Indian paintbrush lining the shoulder. Gobi was, after all, still a puppy whose love ran faster and deeper than his little legs could propel him.
It has been speculated that dogs cannot see color, but that assumes color has the same definition for dogs and humans. Dogs can see something more complex than one-dimensional color. They can see what's best described in human English as aura. In this life-threatening episode of his journey toward the lovely love smells, Gobi was on especial alert. Initially, he heard blaring, twangy music, then the purr of a powerful engine. But it wasn't until Gobi actually saw the aura of three teenage boys sitting and grinning in a pick-up truck while it barrelled towards him, that he knew he was in trouble. Their aura was pulsating wickedness and couldn't have come at a worst time. The dirt road had narrowed to accommodate a bridge over a very wide, but slow-moving creek. Let's just say, it appeared very wide to a tiny pup whose mom never had a chance to teach him how to swim. Gobi had no choice when the truck's big crushing tires veered viciously toward him. He jumped.
Gobi landed with a belly-flopping splash and went deep underwater. Legs churning frantically, he kicked to the surface where his fears were vanquished upon realizing he could swim after all. The movement of the creek's water flow was gentle. The water became cool and delicious to the novice swimmer. After a few moments of splashing fun, Gobi climbed onto the litter-free banks to shake off and roll around. Ready to hit the road once again, he lifted his nose and was heartened to smell that smell. The smell of love around you. It was stronger, therefore closer. Gobi was really, really excited. Hungry, too.
The last quarter mile to his sweet-smelling destination saw Gobi running like a quarter horse. His extraordinary sprint to the finish blurred his little brown form and flattened his ears back like a headband would. Gobi tore down the road, almost tumbling head-over-heels in anticipation of love. And food.
A couple of slightly stand-offish Maine Coon cats lounging in the grass at the end of a gravel driveway were caught off guard when he streaked by. They looked at the speedy pup, then went back to their all-grooming as if to say, "Typical dog. Kicking up some dust and showing off". They didn't know and really didn't much care that, in his haste, the little brown dog had overshot his turn.
Gobi realized his mistake a few yards past the grass and gravel driveway and came to a cartoon-like screeching halt. The road's dust that Gobi had churned up wafted over him as he whirled around on his rump and scrambled up the long drive.
Only when a sprawling old farmhouse with a huge fenced yard came into Gobi's sight did he stop running. Sides silently heaving and heart pounding hopefully, Gobi stood quietly behind some thick honeysuckle vines and watched.
Two humans were in the yard along with five dogs and a strange-looking creature who Gobi found out later was a pig. The man was standing at a smoking grill, holding long tongs and secretly dropping pieces of something into the mouth of an elderly dog. The woman was throwing a bright yellow tennis ball for the other dogs to chase and wrestle over. The pig was eating a pile of acorns. It looked and smelled like a beautiful, loving home. But still, Gobi watched and sniffed.
Then it happened - the answer became apparent that Gobi would be welcomed and loved. A big dog had accidentally knocked over a small outdoor table holding the humans drinks. Lemonade, ice and bottles all fell to the ground. The dog was mortified and the humans were startled. But instead of being angry, the man and the woman rushed up to the dog, soothing and stroking her until her tail resumed its wag. Gobi was amazed and elated. It was time.
Gobi emerged from his honeysuckle hideaway and trotted up to the paneled fence. He put his front paws up. Standing on his hind feet, Gobi barked politely. Nothing. After the mishap with the drinks table, the family had carried on with their afternoon party as if nothing had happened. The man had even put on some music and was dancing around while he worked the grill. The woman laughed and horsed around with the dogs and pig on the other side of the yard. It was louder now, so Gobi barked more shrilly. Suddenly, the man looked up and over at him. The dogs did, too and came running. The woman followed the dogs. Before Gobi could get out another bark, he had an audience of people and pets on the other side of the fence. And they were all looking down at him. The humans' auras were heart-melting. The dogs' smells were inviting, and the grill's aromas were mouth-watering. Things were looking promising for a little puppy named Gobi.
The man said something to the woman who must have agreed because without hesitation, he leaned over the fence and picked Gobi up. The humans cradled him and cooed to him while the dogs gave him friendly sniffs and playful whines.
Gobi was fawned over that first day, and for the rest of his life, at his new home. He was given perfectly grilled and de-boned chicken as a snack before a big bowl of puppy chow. There was also a big trough that was always filled with fresh clean water. He had built-in playmates with the other dogs who taught him how to play catch and Frisbee. He had the comfort and wisdom of Pearl the pig who had successfully raised three litters of puppies with the help of their moms. But best of all to Gobi, as he laid sleeping in human arms that first night, was that he had not one, but two of his very own humans to love. Gobi was home.