“Look, Aussie, I got an email from Wisdom Panel. They’re the people who studied your DNA a few years ago, that’s how I heard you were half German Shepherd.”

“Am not. I’m a pacifist.”

“This email asks me if you want to meet your siblings or parents: Ready to Give Your Dog a Family Reunion? What do you think of that? We’re now not only being invited to reunite with very distant DNA relatives around the world, now you, canine Aussie, are being invited to get together with your DNA family, too.”

“What’s that word you use about ten times a day? Meshuga?”

“I laughed for a long time over that email, Aussie. But then I thought about it again.”

“Big mistake.”

“It’s interesting how far away we get from our birth families. You know, people and dogs used to live together in big families years ago. It was a different way of life, see? Everyone had a role to play in helping the family grow and prosper. When I spent more time with Palestinians years ago, one of their biggest complaints was not getting permits to enlarge their homes when someone got married. One friend told me that he wanted to add another floor to his house on the Mt. of Olives because his son was going to get married and the plan was for each of the men to marry and live in the same house, only each on his own floor. Kids weren’t supposed to move away from home.”

“I can hardly wait to get away from you.”

“Why, Aussie?”

“Because I have to fulfill my destiny.”

“What destiny, Auss?”

“How should I know? Once I run away, I’ll find it and let you know.”

“That’s a very individualistic way of looking at things, Aussie, maybe even a very American way: To find out who I am, I have to leave my family and home and go far, far away.”

“You did that.”

“Right. And you know who else did that? Our ancestor, Abraham.”

“The Wisdom Panel told you that I have an ancestor called Abraham?”

“The Bible told me I have an ancestor called Abraham, and God commanded him to leave his family and country and go forth to where God leads him.”

“Exactly. I’m being called forth to discover my destiny. In order to do that, I got to get the hell out of here. By the way, what’s God?”

“Aussie, there’s a price to be paid when you leave your family behind.”

“Name one.”

“Not seeing me day by day. Maybe never, Auss.”

“I’ll live.”

“Not seeing Henry day by day.”

“Party party party.”

“Not seeing Leeann, your favorite human in the whole wide world.”

“I’ll send her a Christmas card.”

“No Paul Newman Peanut Butter treats, Auss.”

“I think I’ll make it. With any luck I’ll find a Big Mac someone threw out along the way.”

“No Buddy Biscuits Assorted Flavors, including grilled meat, roast chicken and bacon.”

“Not even bacon?”

“Aussie, there’s a price for everything. You want to take a journey and discover a new frontier, go right ahead, but you may be leaving important things behind.”

“Like what?”

“Love. A sense of belonging. A sense of being cared for.”

“If I send you an address, could you send me a care package every month? Let’s see: Buddy Bacon Biscuits, Organic Crunchy Duck Treats With Blueberries leave out the blueberries, Killer Chicken—”

“Forget about it, Aussie.”

“You know what? I don’t care. I’m leaving home to discover my destiny and live my life. California, here I come.”

“Aussie, there are big thunderstorms in California nowadays.”

“How big?”

“And don’t forget, when you go west, young dog, you’ll pass The House.”

“The House? You mean—you mean—the one with the two big German shepherds?”

“The very one, Aussie.”

“Can you walk me to the corner on leash?”

“They’re always indoors, Auss, they don’t bother you.”

“I can smell them. They’re waiting in the woods to jump me and—and—and—I changed my mind. Destiny can wait.”

“Why are you giving up so quickly?”

“First rule of survival: You see two big German Shepherds lurking in the forest, head for home.”

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