A few years ago when my son Caleb was still in college, I wrote this story for him and his guide dog Esther.
Esther jumped up on the bed and started growling and licking her friend Caleb.
Caleb hugged her back, but he gave a big yawn. She looked at his cell phone. It was only three in the morning. This should be a good time to play.
“Shh shh, don’t wake up David.” Caleb said.
David was their roommate.
“Why? I can go jump on his bed,” Esther said, panting happily.
“No, no,” Caleb said, putting his arms around her. “Let’s just try to sleep.”
Sleep? Esther didn’t know what kind of fun that would be, but she pushed Caleb over so she had enough room in the bed, and took a big breath to sleep. She breathed on Caleb’s face, and her breath smelled nice and stinky, just the way Caleb liked it.
Esther enjoyed playing with Caleb all day long. They played in classrooms, in the lab with all the computer stuff, in their room, where Caleb teased her and threw her toys and tried to tug them out of her mouth. Sometimes she let him win these games. They went to the eating room, but only Caleb got to eat there. He told her to lay down under the table, and he didn’t drop any crumbs for her, but at least the food smelled good.
And sometimes they got together with friends, and went to people’s houses and to restaurants. Caleb’s friends all loved Esther, and she liked them too.
But Esther wanted an adventure.
“Caleb,” she said on another night, scooting him over in bed at 4:00 a.m. “I want an adventure.”
“Huh? What?” Caleb said. “What do you want?”
“An adventure,” Esther said again.
Caleb finally woke up and sat up to give her a hug. “What kind of adventure?” He asked.
“I want to go home, and visit our family, all by myself. I want to get on the bus and ride it by myself.”
“Hmmmm, well,” Caleb said. “That would be an adventure. Let’s think about it for a while, okay?”
That was the problem with humans. They wanted to take time to think about things all the time. Dogs knew that the best way to get anything done was to jump up, growl, pant, turn in circles, and go, go, go!
Esther asked Caleb about this adventure a couple times again in the next few days. He just said, “Hmmmm. That’s an interesting idea.”
Esther finally decided one day she would just go. Caleb wouldn’t mind.
They were in the lab, and Caleb was working on the computer. He was looking at something interesting and hadn’t said anything to Esther in quite a while. This would be a good time.
Esther got up and didn’t even shake her ears. She walked quietly out of the room, making sure her toe nails didn’t touch the floor.
She passed an office with the door open. The guy said, “Hey, Esther, what are you doing? Are you going to get a drink?”
She just kept walking. That was dumb. She couldn’t get a drink of water without Caleb’s help. Come to think of it, she was kind of thirsty.
She had to wait for someone to come in the building, than caught the door while it was open and went out. Once outside, she jumped up and down. She felt like her adventure was really starting!
She saw a guy who was in one of Caleb’s classes. “Hey, Esther, where are you going? Where is Caleb?”
She just kept walking. She didn’t try to answer. Caleb was the only human smart enough to understand her when she talked.
After a minute she looked behind her. Good. The guy wasn’t looking at her any more, and he had passed the building where Caleb was. He wasn’t giving up her secret.
Soon she saw the big bus that she and Caleb rode on. She hurried and jumped on and looked around for something fun to see or do.
A lady sitting nearby dropped something on the floor that looked like a rope toy. Esther grabbed the rope and growled.
The lady grabbed the other end and pulled hard. Oh, this was fun, growl, growl, pull, pulllll.
But then the lady yelled. “Hey, somebody help! This dog is trying to take my purse.”
Esther quickly let go. The lady must not want to play after all.
“Hey, grab the dog!” somebody yelled. Several people tried to grab her, but Esther managed to slip through their hands. What was wrong?
“Hey,” somebody else yelled, “Isn’t that the dog that belongs to that blind guy? Why did he let her out by herself?”
Now they sounded like they were mad at Caleb. She didn’t want people to get mad at Caleb.
A few other people tried to get her. There was a lot of yelling. “Don’t let her get away!” “Grab her! Grab her!” but she kept pulling away, and then -- oh good – the door opened.
Esther got out and started running. She wasn’t sure which way to go, but she just wanted to get away from those scary people.
Finally she had to stop running. She stood still, trembling and panting. She looked both ways, but it didn’t look like anyone was following her.
After a few minutes she felt better and started walking again. She was not sure which way to go. She looked around for something that looked like she had seen it before or had been there with Caleb.
Then there was a guy coming toward her. “Hey puppy!” he said to her. She didn’t like people calling her puppy, except Mama Kathy.
He moved closer to her. “Hey, puppy, want to come home with me?”
No, she did not want to come home with him. He was kind of a sketchy looking guy.
Before he could touch her, Esther started running again, as fast as she could. After a little while, she saw the bus with the numbers Two and Six on it
That Caleb had taught her. Esther was scared of getting on a bus now, but when it stopped, she got on. She had to find home.
Esther moved as far to the back as she could, and went under a seat. After a few minutes, she heard a lady’s voice that she thought she’d heard before. “Hey, aren’t you Esther? Where’s Caleb?”
Esther tried to pull even farther back under the seat. But the lady didn’t say anything else.
After a few minutes Esther lifted her face just a little bit and tried to look out the window. There were some places that looked like they might be close to home. There was that big store where Caleb sometimes bought her bag of food. Oh, and there was the nice church that was on the end of the street where home was. The next time the bus stopped, Esther quickly got off.
Esther started running again. She was almost there.
When she got home, she almost barked. She ran up the steps, and banged against the front door, whining as loud as she could.
Daddy Murray opened the door, and best of all – there was Caleb!
She ran to Caleb and jumped up on him, giving his face lots of kisses. Then she ran around the house, through the kitchen, the dining room, living room, and then she ran it all over again. Finally she stopped in the living room and fell to her belly. She rubbed around on the floor and whined happily.
Mama Kathy was sitting in her chair. Esther went to her, and Mama rubbed her side until Esther fell down so Mama could rub her belly. Oh, it was good to be home.
After a little while, Caleb picked Esther up and carried her up to their room. She loved when Caleb carried her. Caleb put Esther on their bed and said, “I’m so glad to see you. I was afraid you might be hurt, Esther.”
“It was scary,” Esther said. “People got mad at me just because I tried to play the rope game with a lady. And a sketchy guy tried to take me to his house. And I couldn’t find the way home for a long time.”
“Please promise me you won’t go off by yourself again, Esther.”
“I promise,” Esther said, whining happily and licking Caleb all over the face. “Next time I go on an adventure, I’ll take you with me.”