Whimpers emerged from a shallow box, and I realized that the sound was coming from me. It had been over a day since I had last eaten, which was far too long for a three-week-old puppy to go without food. I had been left a small tin of milk and had eaten it the day before, now I had nothing left. The dark street was illuminated unnaturally by several sets of neon lights. My eyes had opened two days ago, just in time for me to see the eyes of the monster- that I now know to have been the taillights of a car, drive away. The sounds were all strange, the smells made me sick, and the light hurt my eyes, but they were gone, and no one cared, or so I thought. God saw me being dumped like unwanted refuge in a dank alleyway near West Edmonton Mall. He heard me whimper as cold and fear settled in. I had been fighting to get out of my box, my body barely squirmed when I told it to run or jump. I whined and grunted as I fought to be stronger than the weak creature I was at that moment. I finally managed to break the side of the box down enough with my constant barrage of scraping and climbing that I could poke my head over the side and see straight across the litter coated alleyway to the road beyond. Before all I could see were the top halves of tall things that walked and part of the monsters that were called cars as they drove by, if I looked the other way, I could see what I now know to be fire escapes and the shine off of windows as the small fragments of sun caused them to reflect like square stars. If anyone in those windows had noticed me, they hadn't cared enough to help. Past that was nothing but walls. But now I could see the bottom halves of the walking trees, which of course were people, and the shrieking feet of the cars. I whimpered some more as I tried to climb over the side of the box, suddenly the edge gave way completely and my bum tumbled over my head and exited the box before the rest of me. I braced for pain as I landed, but found none, instead my back lay against softness and string as I looked up into a pair of eyes that were the greenest green, I had ever known. Blonde fur flopped over the eyes, and something showed gentleness on the face of this strange creature. He bent down and cupped his hands under me, lifting me up off of his shoes. "Oops, you almost landed an intense wipeout didn't you kid?" At the time I didn't understand his words because I hadn't been around people much, but somehow, I knew they meant me no harm. He took me into one hand and my whole body fit there snugly as he stroked me with a finger. Suddenly my body did something completely foreign to me, it began to wag my tail, I had never wagged my tail before that I could remember, it felt as though my heart had hold of it and was sliding it back and forth, causing it to brush the man's hand. Then he made a sound that took away all of my fear and sadness, he laughed. Then he tucked me gently under one side of his coat and I could feel his heartbeat, it made me sleepy like my mom's heartbeat used to before I was taken away from her. His warmth eased its way into my bones, and I fell asleep in his cupped hand. The next time I woke up I was in a basket, covered with blankets. The man saw I was awake and came over to me. He smiled and touched my ears gently before going and getting a funny thing with a another funny thing on the end, he poked the funny thing at my mouth and I whined, he poked again and I turned my head away, then he put some of what was in the funny thing on his finger and put it against my lips, I licked it to make it go away and then realized that it was milk! I licked all of it off of the man's finger and then took the end of the funny thing in my mouth, for some reason it reminded me of my mom=, and I cried as I ate my fill of the milk. The man stroked me with his finger again and I knew he was trying to make me feel better. I finished eating and a knock sounded at the door. The man opened it and a woman walked in. She smelled odd, like rotten milk or something, she touched me gently too and the way she rubbed my neck made me happy, so I decided to like her. The way she spoke to the man sounded like they were close to each other. Then she did something I will never forget! She lifted me up, turned me around, and stuck something in my bum! The horror and indignity! If someone my age could have pride, I would say for certain it had been bruised. Then she rubbed my back and put me down and showed the stick she had used to disrespect me with to the man, he smiled and looked relieved, then she gave him some things I didn't recognize, hugged him, and left. He lied down on the floor next to me and rubbed my tiny ear between his thumb and forefinger. "You're going to be okay kid; Tenshi says that you don't have a fever and that with some love you will grow into a healthy dog."
I still didn't understand a word of what he said, but he made me feel better when he spoke. Actually, that isn't true, I did understand one word - love. He said that one often and I took from his tone that it meant something nice, so I wagged my tail whenever I heard him say it. In the stuff she had given him was a small animal, it was not real, but the man put it in the basket next to me and I slept cuddled against it, it’s presence made me feel safe.
I know that the time he took away from work to care for me must have been hard on him, but he never complained. As I got bigger more and more people came over to the man's (whose name I learned was Jamie) house. I met all sorts of kind faces and was picked up to the point that I decided I didn't like it. Two men came over often and I realized they must be Jamie's littermates, or siblings as humans call them. They were always very kind to me. Another man came over often too, he was very, very nice to me, and yet I found myself afraid when he was around. Later I would learn that it was because of what type of work he did for the government that I found him unsettling. Many women came over and they squealed over me softly. One woman I learned was Jamie’s adoptive mom, she decided I should be named Dahlia. One woman came over more often than the others, she was the one who had taken my temperature, Jamie called her Tenshi. I felt he was closer to her than the others. Then I met the loud man who made kissy faces- Cass. I didn't like him at all! Probably because he kept bugging Jamie to buy a new dog, I don't know if he wanted me replaced or simply wanted Jamie to have two pets, but either way it made me not like him. Jamie on the other hand would scold him and take me in his arms and tell Cass that I was the only dog for him. Then, after I turned one and my floppy, awkward stage was almost gone, instead of Jamie disappearing for long periods of time and leaving me with Tenshi or one of his friends he started taking me with him, and suddenly I was in a new world. A world of obstacle courses and other dogs and people and now I couldn't have a snack without it being in a tube or container of some kind. I learned different smells and how to find them, what was dangerous and what was not, then I learned how to identify people by their scent. I was always good at telling if people were telling the truth or not and Jamie worked with me at learning to signal him if I knew someone was lying, once he realized then I could do it. The work was hard, but everyday I got to be with Jamie, so I was happy. Eventually I graduated, whatever that means, and I become the first ever Spy Hunter Jack Russell Terrier.
My name is Dahlia, and my master is a Spy Hunter. As the name suggests, we hunt spies. Insurgents who flee to other countries to avoid prosecution are our prey. We work for the government, though you would never find any documentation on us. Dangerous and difficult, yet thrilling and fantastic; our job takes us all over the world with many different identities and many different targets, but Jamie and I are always ready for...