Wherein a friend and cohort is introduced

What people don't understand about dogs is that for them there is nothing interesting at eye level. Everything worth investigating is either on the floor below them or on a table above them. Dogs are naturally inclined to investigate since they are forced to spend their whole day looking around.

Bandit the Dog was no different. Bandit is a good dog who was born on a farm in Iowa. He had a fun puppyhood because he could run around and eat stuff and wag his tail wherever he wanted.

Bandit would explore the fields around his house all the time. One time he saw Willie Nelson walking around.

Bandit had a lot of brothers and sisters and he loved them all. The man who owned the farm Bandit lived on was named Warren. Warren was old but very nice and he worked hard all day and enjoyed taking breaks occasionally to pet all the dogs. Warren loved all his pets but had a special affection for Bandit. He did not know why that was. Maybe it was because Bandit was so spirited. He reminded Warren of his own youth, except Bandit could jump higher.

Warren had trouble keeping the farm afloat. He had had a sad life because his wife and boy had both passed away. Warren was all alone. He had very little money and there was so much work to be done on the farm every day it was hard to keep up.

One evening Warren was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee and looking over his finances. Things looked pretty bad. Plus he was getting arthritis in his right hand which was the hand he did most of his stuff with. His hand was really hurting bad today and so his coffee drinking and accounting was taking extra long cause he had to do both with his left hand. His right hand was resting on his thigh and just looking at it made Warren awful sad. He had never really thought much about his hand, but now that it was having trouble he realized how much he liked it and appreciated it. That hand had done a lot for him over the years, and it was very sad to see it sick. He patted his right hand with his left and then looked out the window. All the dogs were on the lawn sniffing each other and telling their tales about their day. Warren loved his dogs as much as his hand.

The next morning everyone got in Warren's old pick-up truck. All the dogs were in the back. They had been back there before and so they knew to brace themselves when Warren shifted gears. They drove though the countryside. It was warm and pretty and sunny and a little moist because it was very early and the sun was bringing all the water on the ground up into the air. It made everything look fancy, especially when you looked into the distance. Pretty and hazy and soft and everything smelled good.

The dogs were very excited to be going on a trip. Maybe they were going to the store! The store was great because it was owned by Warren's friend Daniel. Daniel loved Warren like a brother and he also loved all the dogs very much. In his store Daniel had a big barrel full of pickles and when the dogs visited he would give all the dogs pickles to eat and Daniel and Warren would smile and laugh as the dogs ate the pickles because it made them feel good to see the dogs so happy. Plus, pickle-eating dogs are hilarious!

Warren did not stop in town though. He went to a different farm. The dogs remembered this farm because they had been there before, but they did not know much about it. Two other dogs came out from the tool shed and up to the pickup truck. They were nice and their tails were wagging. Everyone in the pickup was happy to see other dogs and their tails wagged too.

A woman and man came out of the house. They were younger than Warren and were smiling. Warren talked to the couple as the dogs wagged their tails. The couple walked to the back of the pick up and started petting and talking to all the dogs. The dogs all thought that was super cool! Warren stood on the other side of the truck and watched. Eventually the couple took two of Bandits brothers and sisters out of the truck. They smelled and ran around with the other two dogs. Warren watched them play for a bit then waved to the couple and got back in his truck. Bandit's brothers and sisters stopped playing when they heard the pickup start. They watched the truck pull out in the dust and disappear.

In the back of the pickup the other dogs got quiet and still. They sat and laid down and sometimes looked at each other and sometimes didn't. Bandit felt very scared all of a sudden and rolled up in the corner of the truck bed. The metal beneath him was getting warm from the sun but he still felt cold deep inside himself. Bandit's mother walked over - it was hard with the truck bouncing so much but she made it - and lay down next to Bandit. Their sides were touching and that made that part of them warm. Bandit still felt very sad but he wasn't scared anymore. Bandit's mother laid her nose down next to Bandits. They touched. Bandit's father looked away and stared at the fields whizzing by.

By the end of the day Bandit was the only dog left in the truck. He was sitting up front now next to Warren. It was getting to be dusk. The window was open and Bandit could see zillions of bugs bouncing around over the fields. They were dark spots on the gray sky. Sometimes the bugs flew in the window and buzzed around and then got sucked back out. The air was cool coming in through the window. The truck was bouncing a lot.

Bandit had been to a lot of farms that day and seen a lot of smiling people. They all pet all the dogs. Sometimes when they talked with Warren their smile went away but they always looked kind in their eyes. Bandit met a lot of fun dogs on the farms. He watched both his parents and all his brothers and sisters jump down from the back of the pickup. The truck bed would be a little higher off the ground every time one of Bandit's family went away. It was very sad. He was alone except for Warren who while he drove kept his right hand on Bandit's back.

Bandit doesn't like to think back on what happened that day or the next two weeks. Warren took him to a town Bandit had never seen. It was bigger than the town they normally went to. He and Warren were on the sidewalk in front of a building on a busy block. People were everywhere. Warren was kneeling in front of Bandit and petting him and talking to him. Then Bandit was inside and there were a bunch of nice ladies petting him and talking to him. They were giving him a bath and he could see out the window and there was Warren sitting in his truck watching. The nice ladies washed Bandits head and face and Warren was gone. Bandit was wet so he shook and shook and shook.

Bandit lay in a cage and the floor was cement and cold. He would drink water and it would slop everywhere but then dry away. There were a lot of other dogs but for a long time Bandit didn't want to make friends with them. He wasn't very hungry and the ladies would pet him and talk to him and scratch his ears. People would walk by and talk to him and to the other dogs. Sometimes a dog left with a person.

As the week wore on Bandit made friends. Some of the dogs were very nice but some were snooty. Bandit kept being Bandit. He liked his friends and he liked the nice ladies but he felt lonely sometimes and did not like sleeping alone. He wanted to cuddle up with someone else and feel the warm spots. He wanted to wake up before other dogs and be able to walk over to them and wake them up too then go a play and eat with everyone. He wanted to do stuff then come back and tell the other dogs what he had done and also learn what they did. But there was nothing to learn or to tell.

As the days went by some of Bandit's friends left with people. Bandit thought maybe he could not become too good a friend with anyone because its too sad when they leave. But, this was against his nature. He wanted to be good friends with everybody even if it meant he would be very sad later! Bandit was still lonely and began to watch the people who came by more closely. He hoped maybe one of the people would like him as much as he was sure he would like them.

One night it was very quiet because there were not many dogs in the room. Bandit lay on his concrete and wondered what Warren was doing. He hoped he was ok. Bandit fell asleep. He did not know this, but that whole night his paws and nose never moved. Usually when he sleeps he dreams about stuff and he gets excited and his paws and nose move around a bit. That night they did not and he just breathed.

When Bandit woke up there was a couple of people crouching before his cage. It was a pretty lady and a strong nice looking man. They were smiling really wide at Bandit even though he wasn't doing anything. Bandit was just sitting there and they were smiling to him! That made Bandit happy all of a sudden so he stood up and walked toward them. The man put this finger through the cage. Usually people don't do that. Bandit smelled the finger and liked what he smelled. He licked it and both the man and woman smiled more. Bandit felt even happier so he kept licking. The finger tasted salty and good. Bandit felt very very happy and man was his tail going!

Bandit left with the people! They went outside and the sun was hot on his back while they walked round. It felt terrific. Bandit jumped as much as he walked and the couple laughed all the time. They were so great! They all got in a car and boy was it hot in that car but they started driving and they rolled down the windows a bit and the air blasted in cool and sweet smelling and Bandit stuck his head out the window and the air flopped his ears around like crazy and his tail was going bats. He couldn't believe how happy he was! The fields whipped by and he thought about his family and he thought about Warren and he knew he missed them but for the first time his sadness was outweighed by a good feeling. He felt good for his parents and he felt good for his brothers and sisters because he knew they were all outside with friendly dogs and they had friendly people to watch after them. Just like Bandit! He loved them all so much he wanted to lick and kiss Warren and to jump on him and see Warren smiling but he knew Warren knew that's what Bandit wanted to do and he also knew Warren knew how happy he was and he knew that made Warren happy. And Warren was happy. He was back on the farm at that very second and he was thinking about the dogs and he felt happy about them because he knew that were running in the sun and people loving.

The car drove for a long long time. Bandit was nowhere he knew but he felt good because he was with the nice couple. They were a family and they were driving to a new world! Wag wag wag wag wag!