“What are you doing, Aussie?”

“See what the bear did last night? Do you think I could jump over that?”

“No. Besides, it’s cold and raw and wet.”

“Gotta get out of here, Bubkes. Put the kindness virus behind me. The Boss went to Stop & Shop to buy more food cards, met a friend of hers who bought a few more and gave them to her. HOW MUCH DO PEOPLE NEED, I ASK YOU? Then there are these people from Europe—”

“What’s Europe, Aussie?”

“Foreigners, Harry Bubkes, foreigners supporting more foreigners living here. All they care about is foreigners. Who supports us, Harry? Tell me that.”

“The Boss does, Auss. She says we’re privileged dogs.”

“We’re not privileged, we’re suffering! Always the same food—”

“Premium dogfood, Aussie—”

“With the same chicken broth—”

“It’s organic, Aussie, from free range chickens who love their lives!”

“Always the same jerky and rawhide—”

“I love jerky, Aussie!”

“And we have no more toys!”

“That’s because we’ve torn the innards out of each one, Auss, and the Boss says enough is enough.”

“Marrow bones just once a week!”

“The Boss says we’re costing her an arm and a leg. But she’s still walking pretty good, Auss.”

“Oh, Harry—”

“She also says it’s a hard time and we all have to sacrifice.”

“Well, I’ve sacrificed enough, Harry Bubkes. They complain about not being able to go anywhere, but that’s true for us all the time! We’ve been sheltering in place since the beginning, except when she takes us for walks, and now she’s only taking us on leash on the road.”

“The Boss says that you’re starting to run away again in the woods.”

“Of course I’m running away. It’s springtime, Harry, when else do you run away? Everybody’s waking up and walking around. Did you get a whiff of those wild turkeys in our back yard last night? There was a parade of them, Harry. And where were we, I ask you?”

“Shut up inside the house, dog doors barred.”

“The bear is coming back at different nights, breaks down the fence, does whatever it feels like. And where are we, Harry?”

“Shut up inside the house, Aussie.”

“There was a band of coyotes yipping and yapping half the night, and where were we, Harry?”

“Shut up inside the—”

“Wild animals are taking over, birds parading in the back yard like models on a runway—what’s this world coming to?”

“Does it have to come anywhere, Aussie?”

“It’s going to come to an end if not for Donald, Bubkes. A nice visit with Donald restores my sanity. He knows what’s what.”

“What’s what?”

“Donald knows how important we are, Harry.”

“I’m glad somebody does, Auss.”

“He knows we were here first on this land.”

“When we were wolves, Aussie?”

“My ancestors were wolves for sure, Harry. Yours, I’m not so sure. We cuddled at will, the bigger the pack the more we squeezed together. We shared everything! It’s time to reclaim this land, Harry, it’s all ours and nobody else’s. We should do whatever we want with it, right? Watch me jump over this fence.”

“You won’t make it, Aussie.”

“Watch me.”

“I’m watching.”