Time being a fluid thing here, Hugo had no idea how long it had been since he left his people, and Kaydon. He didn’t mind it so much except that he wondered what they were doing. He still felt Kevin’s sadness, though less frequently now. And while he missed the connection it gave him to Kevin, he was glad that Kevin wasn’t as sad anymore. He felt it from Simon a little bit, just every now and then though it was different, shorter, a momentary remembrance that created a cloud of melancholy that gently floated on by. Until now, he hadn’t felt anything from Kaydon.
Lately, he was feeling a new, unfamiliar sensation. Something like anticipation, something was about to change, something was missing. It mixed with fleeting bursts of anxiety and fear. It wasn’t coming from Kevin, or Simon. It wasn’t a human emotion; he recognized them now when he felt something out of the ordinary. It was a dog feeling. He was sure that it was from Kaydon. He needed to ask Zippy about it.
He described to Zippy what he’d been feeling, who listened quietly with his eyes closed as the breeze blew the golden fronds of Mexican feather grass against his sides, gently tickling him. This was his favorite way to listen and think.
“Our bond is with that one person back there who we want to hang out with for the rest of forever. Even so, it doesn’t exclude us feeling emotions from others, as you have with Simon. Or like what I felt when I sensed you were getting ready to arrive, even though I’d never met you. Something intense is going on with Kaydon, and it’s made its way to you.”
Hugo thought about this. He had been quite the serious one
back there. He had lots of fun but he thought about things a lot; noticed
things and reacted to them; worried. Kaydon, on the other hand, went from day
to day without thinking or worrying about anything at all. Every day was just
the same – always happy, always barking at something, always… fine.
“I can smell him. I hear that annoying bark when he wants out,” Hugo said. “I have this urge to charge at him with a frisbee. At any moment, I think he’s going to come up behind me and swat me on the rear with his paw like he used to love doing. I haven’t thought about any of that since I came here. But now, I know he’s not fine and it bothers me more than I expected.”
“Do you remember before when I told you there was something else you could do about Kevin’s sadness but you weren’t ready?”
Hugo had forgot about that conversation, now that he wasn’t feeling those intense emotions from Kevin as much as he used to. But his curiosity was renewed as the conversation came back to him.
“Well,” Zippy took a deep breath before continuing. “You can talk to Kaydon while he’s sleeping and find out what’s going on.”
This must have been what Zippy was talking about before, when he could have gone to visit Kevin!
“You still aren’t ready to visit a human,” Zippy said, anticipating what Hugo was thinking. After all this time, they knew each other well. “A pet-pal is easier. We didn’t talk to pet-pals back there like we do here, or any other dogs, but we lived with them, or loved the same people even if at different times in their lives. We understood each other without needing to talk because we shared that physical bond or love of the same person. That’s why it’s easier.”
“Have you ever done that?” Hugo wanted to know.
Zippy again hesitated. “Yes, I have. I spoke with you.”
“When? I don’t remember talking to you. I didn’t even know you.”
“You were hurting and I felt it. I felt it because of our connection to Kevin. I didn’t recognize it at first. I had felt it for a while. I needed to talk to you, to reassure you that it was going to be better soon.
“I spoke with Trudy about what I was feeling and like what we’re talking about, she told me what was probably going on, and what I could do.”
As Zippy spoke, a slow-drifting memory floated along the edges of Hugo’s mind. Not wanting to eat anymore. Kevin trying desperately to feed him. To give him all his favorite foods to encourage him, failing. Kevin crying in grief and frustration, and Hugo feeling bad for not wanting to eat, not being able to please Kevin. He was easing in and out of awareness by then. He had faded off somewhere for a little while when he felt a calm reassurance. At first it was a mild sensation, like a change in sound in a quiet room, that grew into an emotion. He didn’t remember when it became an actual voice, Zippy’s voice, though the sadness he was feeling for Kevin had receded into a soothing sense of serenity. And they talked.
It continued to crystallize and clarify in Hugo’s memory, until he remembered it all.
“That was you!” the realization popping out in surprise and wonder.
“Yes, Hugo, that was me.
“You made me feel so much better and I didn’t even remember it. I only remember a feeling of being ready whenever the time came, of not being afraid to go anymore. And that was you…”
“I’m happy it helped you Hugo, So, what do you think. Feel like giving it a go to help Kaydon?”
Hugo remembered now how much better he felt after he and Zippy talked back there. It didn’t even register as a conversation. Until now, he figured it was the way things worked when you were about to cross over. You just sort of figured your time was wrapping up at some point, and you prepared by getting calm. Now that he knew, he wanted Kaydon to feel better too.
“Very much so, yes,” Hugo said without hesitation. “What do we do?”