Life In The Eyes Of A Dog

Fiction On Odyssey: "A Life In The Eyes Of A Dog"

A story from the perspective of a dog.

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Squirming and crawling through a narrow corridor. Fighting for space, fighting for air. I just wanted to get out.

And then suddenly, I was there. With seven others that appeared to be making the same whimpering and whining sounds like me. I couldn't open my eyes yet.

I didn't know why I was here, or what I was supposed to do here, but I sure liked drinking milk from my mom and napping in the sun.

When I could open my eyes, I realized that I was a girl and finding new creatures to chase and chasing my brothers and sisters were my favorite things to do. I also loved chewing up grass and digging holes.

The humans would take care of us- feed us and pet us but they wouldn't play with us. I didn't know why. Were we not fun enough for them?

Day by day we were getting bigger. And faster.

And then one day, some humans came and awwed at me and my siblings.

A little boy picked up one of my brothers and didn't put him back. He never came back. He went away with the nice humans.

The same thing happened over the next couple of days. My brothers and sisters were being picked up by nice humans and never came back. I was the only one left. Was anyone going to take me, or was I special enough to be able to stay with my mother forever?

Then, one day, some humans came and looked at me. They "awwed so cute" when they looked at me. A lot of humans spoke these words in the past, but this family really seemed enthusiastic. There was a little boy, a little girl, and a woman and a man. The little boy seemed to admire me the most.

Soon, one of the caretakers scooped me up and gave me over to the little boy. I immediately started licking his face because it smelled like pine. He giggled and giggled until he firmly spoke something towards me, so I stopped. We kept moving farther and farther away from the place where my mom was. I realized that I probably wouldn't be coming back because my brothers and sisters hadn't come back. I was going to miss my mother, but that place was getting awfully boring.

I was very excited. I panted very heavily during the whole car ride. I was also scared. I didn't know what to expect. What if things didn't turn out well?

Then, we got to a building. It was beautiful. There were so many trees surrounding it, and a huge field of grass too. The building was made of brick, with white pillars and frames. The woman and the man got out of the car. The little boy picked me up and put me down on the ground. He put something around my neck and hooked something to it, that he held and guided me towards the building.

We stepped inside, and the little boy took off his coat. The man, woman, and little girl were in another room smiling at me. This seemed to be their home and now mine as well. I was so excited; my heart was beating so fast. I thought that it was skipping beats.

The days went by so fast, because everything was so exciting, being in a new home.

Everyone thought I was so cute. I was taught tricks by the little boy, and everyone else in the family would learn it too. It seemed that I was the little boy's dog mostly. They kept saying "Sam" when they looked at me, so I assumed that's what they decided to call me from now on. The little boy pointed at himself and said "Roland", so I assumed that's what he called himself.

Sometimes I was punished for doing things like relieving myself in the house or chewing things like books or the legs of the desks, tables, and chairs. I was put in a thing called a crate and wasn't let out for a period of time. Soon, I learned to stop chewing on the humans' things and to not relieve myself. Every day, I would walk the boy to the end of the street and wait with him for a big machine that had a bunch of other kids on it. The first day this happened, I was really confused and really upset. Roland left with a bag on his shoulders, walking out the front door with his little sister. I didn't understand, so I panicked and tried to get out the door. Roland's mother dragged me back by the collar. Roland heard my whining, turned around, and asked his mother if I could come with him.

She seemed to trust me somewhat, so she let me go with him. Then the machine with the kids on it came and he and his little sister went on it. I tried to go with him, but he wouldn't let me, and the machine started going away. I started to run after the boxy machine, but it was too fast for me. I stopped, panting and panting, confused as to why he was going away. He didn't seem to be mad at me. Maybe he had other things he needed to do?

This became a thing every day; I learned eventually that Roland and his little sister came home every late afternoon and went back again the next morning. I was still his best friend, he still played with me when he was home, and he still loved me. When he petted me, I would give him kisses by licking his face lightly. He giggled when I did this.

So, when he went to where the boxy machine took him, I went with him and waited for it to take him away. When it left with him, I would walk back to the house.

When we would play, he would throw a ball and I would catch it with my mouth or go get it and bring it back. This was my favorite game. We did this until both of were panting so hard, we couldn't catch our breath. Sometimes, the mom and dad would call us inside for dinner. I would have mine on the floor, and they would eat theirs at a table. I understood this because they were providing a home for me and were kind to me. It made sense that I was at the bottom of the pack.

When it was a rainy day, the boy and I would cuddle together on the couch. If he wasn't home, the mom and I would cuddle on the couch. They would stroke my head while I drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of other dogs and biscuits.

I think my favorite time of year was when it was cool but not cold. I didn't like the heat as much, but when it was hot, the boy was home every day. He didn't go on the boxy machine that took him away with his sister. So, I did like the hot time of year for that reason- because that's when we had more time together.

Year by year, the boy was getting larger and so was I. Then we both seemed to stop.

I began to get feelings between my legs and would grind myself against things. I didn't know what was going on with me. One day, I was taken to a building that had a lot of other dogs in it. I was scared because some of the dogs seemed to be whining. Then, I started to whine too because I was so nervous. I had never been here before. What was going to happen?

I was taken into the room by Roland on a leash, and I was dragging my feet so much. I did NOT want to be here.

A man and a woman in long coats came in, smiling, looking down at me. They seemed to pity me, and they seemed friendly. They bent down and petted me. One of them gave me a biscuit and I ate it. Then the other one put a needle in me.

I apparently had fallen asleep, because I woke sometime after that. Roland was standing over me, petting me. I couldn't feel anything between my legs. Why couldn't I feel anything between my legs?

I looked down and saw bandages wrapped around my penis and waist. I did not like this. I started to bite it off, but Roland stopped me and said "no". I knew what "no" meant because it was always said with a serious tone, which meant I was not allowed to do whatever I wanted to do at that time.

I whimpered but gave up my helpless battle.

Soon, that area healed, and I could feel the area between my legs again. The bandages were taken off.

Later I noticed I didn't want to grind up against things or want to hump female dogs anymore. It was sort of a burden, to be honest.

One day, Roland and I went to a grassy area with lots of people and dogs. There was lots of food and fun games.

Roland seemed to stop and stare at one girl who was playing a game with fake ducks. Pfft, fake ducks, I thought. What's the point of that?

Roland started to smell different. He smelled sweaty and I could hear his heart beating fast. Was it the girl playing the duck game that was causing this?

I couldn't take it anymore. What was Roland waiting for? I ran and sprinted towards the girl. I nuzzled her in the legs, and she turned around. Roland apologized. They started talking and laughing. There we go. He seemed to be happy, and I wanted him to be happy. Always. Or at least as much as I could.

When the sun was setting, we departed from the girl. I was sad about this because she seemed to like me so much, and I liked her too. She was very pretty. And she made my Roland happy.

A couple days later, he took me to the park, and we saw the pretty girl. I was so happy! I wasn't sure if we were going to ever see her again.

She played the game with me where Roland would throw a ball and I would go catch it. I had so much fun, and Roland took turns. When I was tired, Roland and the girl would throw the ball to each other.

When the sun went down again, Roland started to smell sweaty again. He held the girl's hand and they touched mouths. Roland's heart was beating very fast.

We saw the girl a lot, and Roland seemed to become happier and happier every time he saw her. I did too.

Day by day, I seemed to be walking slower, running slower, and sleeping more. I didn't eat as much as I used to. Sometimes when I woke up from sleeping, my body ached.

Roland would take me to the building with the dogs and the people with long coats and biscuits. I kept hearing the words "he's old, has only a small amount of time left". What did this mean? Was I going back to that place where my mom was?

But then there came a day when I woke up in the morning, but I didn't want to get up from my bed. The bones and limbs in my body wouldn't move. But like I said, I also didn't want to move. I was tired and achy. More than I had ever been.

Roland and his family took me to the building with the long coats and dogs again. The family had never come before, really.

There was water coming down from their eyes. This meant something bad usually.

The people with the long coats inserted something in me. Soon, the pain drifted away, and I felt like the happiest I had ever been. Roland was hugging me so hard and the water from his eyes was pouring onto me. I was sad, but I was happy that I had made my goal of making Roland happy and meeting that girl. Then, I fell asleep, and here I am.

I look down on Roland and the girl from heaven every day. They seem to be the happiest humans I have ever seen. Maybe God will give me my wings soon.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.
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With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Poetry On Odyssey: Gardner

'I could smell her all over you / and once I even saw the juices / dripping from your lips"

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I knew it all along,

that the flowers in her garden

were laced with the sweetest nectar,

that flow from her hands to her hips.


The same scent that used to cling to you,

I could smell her all over you,

and once I even saw the juices

dripping from your lips.


But that garden has long since been set ablaze

Because things always get in the way.

And I guess that now you long to venture back,

to see if another seed has taken root.


And it's alright, I suppose,

My garden is far less vibrant.

It's been weeded too often, clipped too far

But hers is still so young, so fresh and full of life.


So you still water my plants,

and pretend to be in her field of flowers.

And you wonder to yourself,

because you don't know if you ever truly liked the taste

of bitter deceit swimming through your veins.

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