I’m not going to tell you my whole damn autobiography or anything, all that David Copperfield crap. I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened a couple of years back.
Where I want to start telling is the day I left Holland. Not Holland Lodge, not Holland Middle School, but wooden-shoes-and-windmills Holland. That’s where I was born, if you want to know, in a town 40 minutes north of Amsterdam by the name of Broek op Langedijk. And no, I can’t pronounce it either.
I remember I was hanging out at the breeder’s when who should walk in but a woman looking for a dog, a woman by the name of Linda Pool. Now, Linda Pool was not exactly the sort who drives you mad with desire, but she was a pretty nice girl, so I figured what the hell. Soon, we were bonding and goofing off in your usual dog-human ways, and I spent quite a good year with her, truth to tell. Of course, that was before I became aware of this world’s harsher realities.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day Linda Pool had this family emergency—she’d have about two hemorrhages if I told you the details—at which point she gave me the ax and I ended up back at the breeder. It was meant to be a temporary deal, or so they told me. Anyway, according to my friend Miriam, a girl I ended up going around with later, the next day the breeder gave me to his brother. Don’t let me forget to tell you about Miriam.
I don't care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse. But nobody told me anything. All I know is, somebody stuffed me in a crate and sent me sailing through the air at 30,000 feet, not that you could see anything in that dark, windowless cargo bay. Pitiful. If there’s anything a dog needs, it’s a window. I know I’m not the first canine who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior, but that was a new low, if you ask me.
The first two things I noticed when I got off the plane were that it was really hot and I didn’t hear a word of Dutch. The people spoke Houstonian, which I guess is sort of like English, except not.
Most of the next year is a blur. The breeder’s brother and I parted ways, and I found myself alone in a world of strange people, strange dogs and too many strange-smelling objects to count. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you: it was lousy. I was hungry, depressed and freezing my ass off. My bones began to stick out. I thought I’d starve to death.
All I ever dreamed about was getting back home and seeing Linda again, but the handwriting was on the wall. I, a Dutch dog named Amy, had joined the ranks of a club I’d never wanted to belong to: Houston’s homeless dog population. I started to lose hope.
Then, one afternoon last November, I found myself trying to cross a busy street near this fancy dog park named after one of the president's dogs—it’s right next door to I-10—when all of a sudden this young man named Adrien Alonso came up to me. He partly scared me, partly fascinated me, mostly scared me. Then he gave me some apples.
I know, but after eating garbage for weeks, you’ve never had something so delicious.
Thank God for Adrien. He took me to a vet, where they gave me the once-over and more grub. I didn’t have a tag or anything, but that was okay because there was a microchip under my fur. Everyone was shocked, and nobody ever did figure out how a shepherd mix from Broek op Whatever ended up on an I-10 feeder road 5,000 miles from home. But I didn’t care. I coulda died I was so damn happy.
That’s where Miriam comes in—Miriam Brueggeman—a professional dog rescuing type. She took me to her home in this little town near Waco, she took me to the vet, she took me to be treated for tapeworms. She didn’t take me to the airport, not for a while at least. I was too weak to travel and my coat had lost all its old shine.
One day, Miriam was video chatting with someone, and she showed me the screen. I couldn’t believe it: Linda Pool. She told me she’d been really worried. The Dutch language never sounded so sweet, I tell you.
After that, it took some time for Linda to raise the money to come get me, but when she did, some of Miriam’s friends—as nice and sweet as Miriam—even picked her up from the airport and gave her a place to stay.
At first, I was hesitant, not sure that there was anybody in this goddamn world I could trust. But when I saw Linda and the tears plopped down on me, that was it. I wasn’t crazy about flying back to Holland, or anywhere for that matter, but that’s what we did, on Christmas Eve. Very corny, I’ll admit.
The first time Linda called me her geestverwant, I gave her this look like I dunno what the hell you’re talking about. She explained that that was Dutch for soulmate, and I gave her this look like I still don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Regardless, she told me to tell you this: “Every day I'm happy again when I see Amy, when I get back home after a day of working, and we cuddle and play.” I don’t think I’ll be leaving home again anytime soon, or going back to the breeder’s, or traveling to Texas in cargo class. But if I do, I hope to hell somebody has sense enough to tell me first.