There once was a city of dogs. In this city of dogs was born a very cute puppy named Nitro. His doggy mom always told him the story that many generations ago they had a human master. This master taught them how to fetch, and how to sit, and how not to beg. He cleaned them regularly and basically made them worthy to live in his house some day.
Eventually the master had to leave so he could go and build a house big enough for all of his dogs. He let the dogs wander around in the wild but he said he wanted them to remember everything he had taught them and to teach all of it to their little puppies when they were born so that they would all be ready when he came back for them.
But as Nitro grew up he noticed that none of the other dogs did what they were supposed to be doing. They fought and rolled in the dirt and ate dog poo- none of the things that would make them ready to live in the master’s house.
Nitro saw them playing, and stealing food from each other, and rolling in the mud, and eating poo. And he wanted to be liked by them so he started doing those things too.
He became dirty, and smelly, and stickers and spurs got stuck in his fur. He became unruly and totally forgot how to follow instructions. He knew it made his mom really sad but everyone was doing it so he kept on doing it too.
Then one day his friends and he were playing by a set of cliffs. He knew it was dangerous but it was exciting too. When his mom found out where they were she ran out to tell Nitro to come home. Nitro was trying to jump down to a lower cliff just as his mom showed up. All the other puppies where egging him on to jump down because it was really far and dangerous.
His mom arrive just in time to see him jump over the cliff. She didn’t know that he was jumping to a lower ledge so she yelped in fear. All the other dogs laughed. . . until they saw that little Nitro had partially missed the ledge below! He was hanging by the tips of his paws on the edge of the lower cliff, which was hundreds of feet above the ground below. They all suddenly froze. . . all of them except for his mom. Without hesitation she leapt down to the lower cliff and put her paws on her Nitro’s so they wouldn’t slip.
Nitro scrambled and slowly started to pull himself onto the ledge. But his mom knew that there wasn’t enough room for two dogs on the little ledge and before Nitro had fully gotten onto the little ledge (without realizing they both wouldn’t be able to fit) his mom said to him. “My dear little Nitro. I love you so much. Just do me one favor. Be ready for the master when he comes.”
Nitro heard her but didn’t respond because he already felt embarrassed in front of his friends. But as he pulled himself finally onto the ledge, he realized that his mom had scooted almost all the way off of the cliff to make room for him. And just as he pulled himself all the way up, he realized what was happening, saw her slip and lose her grip on the ledge and scramble and slip and fall, and disappear into the distance below as she yelled back to him, “I love you, Nitro! Be ready for the master!”
Nitro cried for days. The other dogs didn’t try very hard to help him. Finally when Nitro stopped crying for a little bit he would go and watch his old friends. He wouldn’t do what they were doing but he would watch from a distance. Suddenly everything that they did seemed so dumb. They were dirty and mean and they fought all the time. He didn’t really want to be friends with any of them.
And he felt lonely.
Then one day as he looked down from the top of a hill at the dogs jumping around in a garbage heap below, he heard a human voice. Nitro jumped to his feet and looked around. It was merely a young boy.
Nitro barked, “Are you the master?”
The boy responded, “No, my father is the master. But he sent me back to make you guys ready to go back with me to his house when it’s time.”
Nitro’s ears perked up. He looked the boy up and down. He was young, but he looked nice. Then Nitro looked down at the messy, dirty pack of dogs and thought, “I don’t think i want that type of life any more.”
Nitro looked back at the boy and barked, “Ok, so what do i have to do to be ready?”
The boy smiled and knelt down. “If you stick with me I’ll train you. And i will groom you and clean you. It won’t always be fun for you, but i promise that if you believe me, and follow me, I will bring you to my father’s home some day.”
Nitro slowly got closer to the boy. The boy reached out took little nitro in his arms.
It felt so good to Nitro. He had never been pet before. He felt like he was made to love and be loved by a human master.
There were times when it was difficult for Nitro to obey. The boy had to scold him when Nitro begged for extra treats or tried to run and jump in mud puddles like he used to do, or when Nitro felt the urge to eat poop. But sometimes when he looked down at himself, He saw his soft flowing fur that the boy had washed and brushed and he saw how he sat straight up like his master had taught him and when he saw how good of a watchdog he was becoming, he realized that he was becoming a much better dog than the angrily sloppy mess he used to be.
One day, as Nitro was walking by himself, before the boy was awake he saw his old friends running free through the woods. They were dirty and unorganized but they were having fun. When the boy woke up Nitro asked him, “How much could i go play with the dogs and still be ready to go to the master’s house when it was ready.”
The boy looked sadly at him and said, “Do you really want to go back to being that type of dog? Don’t you want to be with me?”
“I do,” said Nitro, “but i also want to go play with them sometimes too.”
“I guess you can go and do it if you want but what if you’re not here or not clean when the master comes back?”
Nitro thought a lot about that. He thought, “The master hasn’t been back in years. What are the chances he would come when i am gone.”
[[brainstorm here what would happen if Nitro went and played with the dogs. What would the boy feel like?]]
And though Nitro knew it was risky, late one night he ran away and found his old dog friends. He remembered how dirty and cruel they were, in fact they had gotten worse, but for once, Nitro got to roll in mud puddles and chew on poo and run through all the messy bushes again. One of the dogs started making fun of him for being so clean and walking in such a proper way and acting so alert like a watchdog. This got Nitro mad and they got into a fight. Nitro was stronger because the boy had been feeding and training him well, but the other dog still bit Nitro’s foot really hard once and by the end of the night Nitro had to limp home.
When he got close he found the boy running out to meet him.
“Nitro!” he yelled. I’m so glad you came home. I was so scared something had happened to you. I was scared my dad would come home and you wouldn’t be here.” He looked at Nitro, dirty, limping, his fur full of stickers and he said, “You know how much work it will take to clean you, and to nurse your foot back to health. Why did you do this after all this work we’ve done together to help you get over that old life.”
Nitro looked at the ground and whimpered, “I’m sorry.”
The boy took Nitro into his arms and hugged him, as dirty as he was and Nitro started to cry. He remembered how much he loved the boy and he never wanted to hurt the boy again.
The boy spent days washing, grooming, and nursing Nitro back to health. Luckily the master didn’t come back in that time.
And Nitro grew with the boy and they became best friends. When Nitro was tempted to go run with the pack of dogs and roll in mud puddles. He went to the boy, licked him, and cuddled up to him and remembered how thankful he was that he had someone to love and someone that loved him.
And then the day came that the master came back. He hugged his son and said, “Is this the only dog that is ready to come with us to our new house?”
The boy said, “Well, let’s try to find the others and see.” He called and called for the other dogs. Most of them never even came, because they didn’t recognize his voice, but the ones that did, were too dirty and messy and didn’t understand what to do when the master called to them. And they definitely didn’t want the boy to try to tear all those burrs out of their fur. But then he turned to Nitro and said, “Come here, Nitro. I remember your mother. She was a very good dog.” Nitro walked gracefully, powerfully up to the master and looked up at him. “Sit, Nitro.”
Nitro sat at the master’s feet and waited for the next command. The master said, “My son has cleaned you well, and trained you well. You will make a good dog to live in my house. Let’s go home. We will be your master, and you will be our beloved dog."
Nitro walked at the master’s side, between the boy and the father. He felt the love that the father had for his son, and saw how it overflowed to him. He felt like he was walking away from everything he knew, except for his master. And he felt like he had never been so at home.