You know how exciting it is when you have a new place to live? First, there’s all the anticipation of finding just the right spot; then there’s the logistics of packing—much in the way of discarding things that won’t do in the new place. Your soundtrack is the sound of tape stretching over boxes, and even though it can be a weary exercise, there is an element of excitement in the air. I wonder what the family dog thinks about all of it. Surely he’s noticed the great clearing out and the cardboard and permanent marker smells, and the grating sound of each box being taped shut. He’s put up with the tone of distraction from his humans and wondered, spending quite a lot of time with his head on his paws pondering what it all means. Something’s afoot and the family dog knows it.

One would think the dog wouldn’t mind at all. Why should he care one way or the other if his humans want to go silly in the head stacking boxes in the basement? But when his favorite toy—the one with the missing squeaker and the chewed-off head—goes in the trash, he minds. When walking energy has been used up in the effort of packing, he can’t help but feel deprioritized. He doesn’t have the words, of course, but he feels it just the same. Even his napping spot—that lovely space where the sunshine casts squares of warmth onto the rug—is somehow affected. Ever since this business with the cardboard and tape, the family dog finds himself underfoot. Just when he settles in for a snooze, he’s rousted from his spot, sometimes even by that dreaded contraption his humans call a vacuum. His very own bed gets an extra washing—and the result is that it loses it’s comfy familiar scent of the backyard paw leavings, and the little bits of dog cookie that he occasionally finds in the creases disappear. Overall, the upset is… well, upsetting.

“There’s something wonderful about knowing that another dog called this place home and looked after its humans.”

And just when he gets used to this new normal, there’s a flurry of ramped-up activity when all the furniture gets hauled outside and the boxes, too. His bed is swooped up and put in the backseat of the car, but no one invites him for a car ride. It’s all very confusing. He gets underfoot just a couple times and then he gets shut into the bathroom where he can’t see what’s going on. There’s not even a rug on the floor. This feels like punishment, plain and simple. After what seems like hours, his people finally open the door and invite him to join them in the living room. The house is so empty that his every footstep echoes eerily. The family is sitting on the bare floor having what they call a picnic. Feels like a happy time with laughter and music. There’s a big flat box on the floor, too, where they pull out cheesy flat pieces to eat with their hands. It has never happened on the floor before, but the smell is familiar. From the comfy lap of the mom, he licks his chops, knowing what’s coming. When the family finishes, they give him what they call ‘pizza bones’—bits of chewy crust full of cheesy goodness. And with every delicious bite that warms his belly, he knows that whatever caused him to be banished to the bathroom is forgiven.

Then, the dog whose world has been turned upside down is invited for a car ride. Although initially exciting, it turns out to be the longest car ride he’s ever been on, with many stops along the way. For the most part, it’s a boring time filled with naps in less than comfortable positions. At least his humans stay close by. The upside is that whenever the car stops, he gets to explore the varied scents left behind by visitors just like him. He sniffs every tree and bush and greenbelt available, adding his own messages along the way, and that is very interesting indeed. But then it’s back to long stretches in the car with only the mystery of the disembodied scents he’s picked up to occupy his mind.

Soon, the family pulls up to a neighborhood and uses the words the dog has longed to hear. “We’re home!” They tumble out of the car and instantly he knows he is not the only dog in the area. He hears a few happy barks to his left and more to his right, and smells visitors the minute he jumps onto the grass in the front yard. He is suddenly very busy trailing the scent of a frequent trespasser, getting the sense the owner is close by. He picks up on a deeper, layered scent and wonders if the dog that left it still lives there. A gate is held open and the dog happily runs through and is kept very busy getting to know every corner, digging area, and sunny napping spot that was occupied by the dog before. He does not get the sense that the dog—a female—is there, but he certainly gets a thorough understanding of how she spent her days when she was. After the long car ride, it’s comforting to have something to do that is so interesting.

So busy, he doesn’t pay attention to the activity of his humans for hours. When, finally, he pokes his head into the house, the furniture he is used to is inside, bringing a familiarity of home. The same rugs are rolled out and even his dog bed has found a spot in its own corner of the dining room. His rope basket is there, too, and he is elated to discover that not only are most of his toys inside, but new ones have joined them. The whole experience has turned around for the better.

Humans. First, they go completely mad and unpredictable, and here they are filling this new place with familiar scents and treating him to new toys. He takes it upon himself to explore the house, trotting upstairs and down, watching his humans bustle past with boxes. He gives the indoors the same scrutiny as he did outside in the yard, learning everywhere humans and dogs alike have traveled. There’s something wonderful about knowing that another dog called this place home and looked after its humans. The scent is strongly one of contentment and good health, which cheers the dog greatly. Finally, exhaustion overtakes him, and he seeks out his bed, curls up nose-to-tail and sighs loudly before falling fast asleep, the day’s sights and scents running through his mind. In the morning, he awakens to lovely breakfast sounds and smells coming from the kitchen. As he heads in to greet his humans, he crosses the floor and discovers that the sun is shining through the window, casting a big golden square onto the rug. He feels the warmth under his paws and sighs, filled with the knowledge that this new doghouse will do just fine.