25. DogThe Man had been gone for days. Luke got up and patrolled the house again, making the same circuit that he always did: kitchen, bedroom, kitchen, living room, kitchen, back door, kitchen, and back to the front door. How many times had he walked that path since The Man had left? Luke had no way of knowing.

Luke sniffed at the door again. He could smell Outside, and wished that, if The Man had left for good, he would have at least let him go Outside. Inside always smelled the same, unless The Man brought a kill home to share. For someone so slow, Luke had to admit The Man was an excellent hunter. He rarely left their den without returning with something to eat. The Man took most of the food, but Luke knew his place in the pack. It was good. He had never gone too hungry.

Luke sighed, and laid on his side, stretching his legs before relaxing. A nap might make The Man return faster. Sometimes that worked.

Just then, though, he saw the smaller house come closer and pull up next to the big house. One of the walls opened, and The Man stepped out.

Luke’s heart exploded with joy. He hoped his tail showed how happy he was. The pack was whole again! He greeted The Man by trying to get in his face and smell if he had eaten.

“Luke, calm down, boy,” The Man said. “I’ve only been gone 20 minutes, dude.”