The story of a little ginger puppy girl named Suri

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Chapter 1. An Unusual Puppy

It was a warm April day when four red puppies were born. They were born in a den carefully dug by their dad under an old concrete pipe. The den was deep, and the sunlight barely entered into it. But even its faint rays were enough to see that one puppy was different from the rest. Three puppy boys looked like dad — large, with short, dark red hair. But the fourth puppy, a girl, was light red and with a soft fur, more like a fluff.

An old, red-haired dog, Granny Pea, looked into the den to greet her grandchildren and congratulate her daughter on the birth of such sweet and wonderful children.

“They are lovely!” Granny Pea said, with a gentle whisper. “And this little one here is just a miracle,” she pointed at the puppy girl.

“It’s a girl,” the mother said.

“A girl, and so much like you!” Granny Pea bent down and carefully licked the baby. “Let her name be Suri! Such a wonderful baby must have a wonderful name.”

“Mom, don’t…” The mother was embarrassed. “You know, it is not customary in the pack to give the children human names.”

Granny Pea wrinkled her nose a little in frustration, but replied:

“You can refuse to give names to yourself and the puppies, but this baby must have a name! I feel like Suri has an unusual fate!”

Granny Pea again tenderly licked each puppy and crawled out of the den.

Suri did not see or hear anything that happened. She had just been born, and her eyes and ears were tightly closed, just like all newborn puppies. All she felt was the delicious milk from her mother and warmth from her brothers. Suri was sleeping peacefully, clinging to her mother’s furry side, and did not even realize that now she had a name and a destiny.

Chapter 2. First Impressions

Two weeks passed. Suri and her brothers grew up, got stronger, and their eyes and ears had already opened. The first sound Suri heard was a measured snorting sound. She crawled, her still weak paws feeling the way, and buried her nose into the warm flank of her brother. She already knew her whole family by smell. The brothers had a warm, soft scent. Mom smelled delicious, like sweet milk. Dad always smelled differently. He did not often appear in the den but each time he did, he brought a new smell with him: a coolness which tickled your nose, or a sharp fragrance which made you want to sneeze; and a stranger one still, which was not quite like the smell of milk but which also made you hungry.

But most of all, Suri liked the smell of her grandmother. Just like mom, she smelled delicious, but not like milk. Grandma’s aroma was something mysterious and incomprehensible. Suri still had nothing to compare her grandmother’s scent with, because she had not yet known anything like it, but when Granny Pea appeared in the den, Suri immediately crawled towards her and rolled over her endlessly, inhaling and exploring this unusual smell.

Suri liked the sounds as much as the smells. After a while, she came to know that the squeaking, grunting, and smacking sounds were made by her brothers. Rustling meant that someone had entered the den. Tapping meant that dad had come — mom was happy and wagged her tail. Suri was even hit more than once by that excited, wagging tail. The sensations were strange — at first something hit her on the head, and then she was covered in fluffy hair that became extremely ticklish and made her want to sneeze. Suri definitely loved her mother’s tail. It was lovely and soft and warm to lie on, and when her legs grew stronger, playing catch-up with it was great fun. Suri also loved the sound of her grandmother’s steps: soft, barely audible. Granny Pea always entered the den very carefully, and sometimes Suri detected her presence even before grandmother began to gently lick her snout, as if kissing.

The most interesting part started when Suri’s eyes opened. At first, she saw everything very dimly, distinguishing only dark and light areas. It followed then, that the first thing she saw was the exit from the den through which the sunlight made its way. This bright spot interested Suri very much and she immediately went to investigate it, tottering along on paws which were still somewhat fragile. But mom, of course, didn’t like it, for it was far too early for the little puppy to crawl out of the den and explore the outside world. So, mother carefully took hold of Suri in her mouth and carried her back to the depths of the den, where the rest of the puppies were happily swarming around.

The second thing Suri saw was pink and soft; it quickly approached her face and walked over her, leaving a warm wet trail. It turned out to be mother’s tongue. Suri really liked the sensations, and she stuck her tongue out too and tried to lick her mother’s nose. But the nose was too high. Suri tried to stand on her hind legs to reach her mother’s nose. She tried her best — she so wanted to kiss her mother! But her hind legs trembled and buckled and Suri fell, hitting her nose smartly on the floor.

“Ouch, it hurts!” She squeaked in pain.

“Be careful, baby,” said mom as she bent over her and licked her bruised nose with a soft warm tongue. “It’s too early for you to jump. Wait a bit.”

Mom’s kiss almost made Suri’s nose stop hurting, but the frustration remained. Suri decided to wash it down with warm milk and staggered towards her mother’s belly.

When her eyes were completely open, the world around Suri became so big and so interesting that Suri was overwhelmed and sometimes had a hard time recognizing and understanding everything. Since the den was always dark, Suri could not see exactly what her family looked like. Her brothers and dad were dark and smooth, while mom and Granny Pea were light and soft. As the walls of the earthen hole were a dull gray-brown, Suri’s initial thought was that the whole world looked just the same.

Chapter 3. The Outside World

Another week passed. Suri and her brothers were almost a month old.

“Well, the kids are old enough,” dad announced one day. “It’s time to take them out.”

Suri noticed her mother shrink a little, as if the thought scared her. Dad noticed it too and said:

“Don’t worry. It’s warm enough and it will be good for the little ones.

“You know I’m worried about something else,” mom said quietly, with a sideways look at the children.

“I know,” dad replied and headed for the exit of the den, “but you shouldn’t worry about that either. People have not come here for a long time.”

When he disappeared into the passage, mother sighed and said:

“Well kids, it’s time for you to learn to live outside. Follow me.”

The boys followed their mother. Suri was the last to go, lost in thought.

“People?” she thought. “What are people? Something scary? Why don’t mom and dad like people?”

Suri was so lost in thought, that she did not notice as she walked towards the exit that the light was getting brighter and brighter.

When she crossed the threshold and left the den, all thoughts immediately flew out of her head. Suri forgot about people, about her mother’s anxiety. She forgot about everything. Because something big, bright, and noisy enveloped her. It hammered into her eyes and ears, tickled her paws and stomach, and coolly ruffled her fur.

Suri screwed her eyes shut with all her strength and crouched down, hugging the ground closely and hardly aware of her mother’s whereabouts among such a flood of sensations.

“Mom! Mom!” She called. “Mom, what is this?”

“This is our world, my little girl,” mom replied and licked Suri’s ear soothingly.

“World? And what’s that ticklish stuff?” Suri squirmed on her belly.

“It’s grass. It’s very soft now and great to run on.”

“And what are those sounds? What’s that whistling and cracking?” Suri raised her head and, still tightly shutting her eyes, began to listen.

“Those are birds. They fly and chirp.”

“Birds? Fly? Chirp?” Suri didn’t understand anything at all.

“Open your eyes, do not be afraid,” her mother encouraged her. “And see everything by yourself.”

Suri nodded and cautiously opened one eye. The light got brighter and Suri felt as if it completely filled her head. She waited a little, opened her other eye and, squinting, began to look around. Gradually, the light stopped blinding her and she finally saw what was around her. The world her parents talked about had really turned out to be huge. Suri was used to her den, to being enclosed within its walls. But now all the walls were gone and wherever she looked as her eyes got used to it, there was something to see and Suri began to distinguish objects.

“Mom, what are those big and noisy things?”

“Those are trees. They are green at the moment, and they protect us from the wind and the hot sun.”

“And what is wind?”

“Do you feel the coolness that ruffles your fur? That is the wind.” Mother smiled.

“What’s so bright?” Suri lifted her muzzle up. “It hurts my eyes!”

“That is the sun. It keeps us warm. But you shouldn’t look at it because it can hurt your eyes,” and as she said this, her mother covered Suri’s eyes with her paw.

Suri suddenly remembered what she wanted to look at first: her mother. In the den, Suri could not see her mother completely, so now she began to examine her with enthusiastic curiosity. Mom had fluffy light red hair, a neat muzzle, large black eyes, and slender, graceful legs.

“Mommy! You’re so beautiful!” squeaked Suri and snuggled up to her mother.

Somewhere nearby there was a groaning, which then turned into a funny first growl. Suri’s older brothers were frolicking and wrestling on the grass. One of the puppies, a large and dark brown one, knocked another of the brothers down on the grass and, standing over him, nipped at his ear. He made an angry and even scary sight, posing as a massive adult dog who had just defeated an opponent. But in fact, his teeth had barely come through and he could not in any way damage the ear with a bite. In any case, the growl sounded more like a rumbling stomach. The brother was lying on his back on the soft grass, happily waving all four paws in the air. He tried his best to bare his teeth, as adults do, but all that showed through was his smile, as he exposed his muzzle to the sun.

“Go play with them,” mom said with a smile, and Suri, shrieking, rushed towards them. She suddenly jumped up to her brothers like a swift, red, ball of fluff, which threw everyone onto the grass, and began to scamper around.

“Let’s play catch-up! You go!” she slapped her closest brother on the nose with her paw and dashed off. The brothers jumped up as quickly as they could onto legs which were still short but already getting stronger, and with joyful squeals rushed to catch up with her.

Chapter 4. The Pack

Gradually, the puppies began to explore their home. Mom told them that they lived with other dogs — a pack, at a construction site which had been abandoned by humans. There were many large stones and pipes around, which were overgrown with ivy and grass. Dog families or loners lived in almost every pipe or crevice among the stones. Gray, brown, spotted, large- to medium-sized, fluffy or smooth. Suri did not know how to count so did not know how many neighbors she had, but she understood that the group was quite large. It took her several days to gradually get to know everyone.

She especially liked Big White Dog. He lived under a large, flat, overhanging stone and always walked alone. Once, Suri even cautiously crawled towards him when he was lying in the sun. Shyly stepping over on her skinny legs and wagging her tail, she bent her head and was about to speak to him, but then her mother came. Grunting something under her breath, mom took Suri by the scruff of the neck with her teeth and dragged her back to the den. The Big White Dog followed them with a slightly surprised look and again stretched out in the sun.

It turned out to be easier to make friends with the puppies living in the next pipe. However, Suri always took a battering when playing their games because the puppies were slightly older and larger. Of course, Suri’s brothers, being stronger than her, easily withstood their mutual playful attacks and rough horseplay. But for Suri, with her long, lean legs and smaller muzzle, it was harder.

“Watch out!” a black puppy raced next to Suri, running away from a pursuing gang. His shoulder brushed lightly against her and Suri jumped away with a yelp. She did not want to fall under the onslaught of the puppies rushing onwards in excitement. This time, the struggle was for a piece of the sole from an old boot. In general, they had a lot of toys, like twigs, cones, old rags, or pieces of rubber. Everything was highly valued and interesting. Suri even had a favorite toy; an old walnut, and it was a lot of fun to roll it around with her nose and paws, or to bury it among the fallen leaves or in the ground. And then, pretending to have forgotten where she hid it, to hunt for the treasure and dig it up.

The den where the puppies were born gradually became too small for their games. As they grew up, even the space for sleeping in their original house became more and more cramped. Mom and dad took everyone into a pipe, under which a hole was dug for a new house. This new place made it easy to run straight out into the clearing, where friends were waiting for them every morning. And of course, in the new house, especially in the farthest part of it, it was easy to hide nuts. Suri had already accumulated a decent collection — big and small, round and long, all of these treasures were carefully hidden in a pile of old leaves.

Suri noticed that most of the dogs from the pack disappeared somewhere during the day, together with her dad and mom. Mom came back during the day to feed them milk, but dad did not return until the evening.

When mother was not looking after the kids, Granny Pea took over. She was Suri’s grandmother, but she also took care of the rest of the puppies whose parents left during the day.

“Grandma, where do dad and the rest of the dogs go?” Suri once asked Granny Pea.

“They go to town to find food,” grandma replied.

“Foooood?” slowly repeated Suri. “Don’t we eat milk?”

Granny Pea laughed:

“Silly girl! Only small puppies eat milk. Adult dogs eat adult food.”

“And what is it — adult food?” Curious, Suri tilted her head to the side, her soft ears dangling.

“Dad will bring some in the evening, and you can try,” grandma winked.

Suri had been looking forward to her father’s return all day. At first she decided to wait for him at the entrance to their house. She lay down on the grass, evenly folding her paws in front of her, stretched her neck, raised her head high and pricked up her ears. Suri decided that this was the most appropriate position in which to wait for the newest, most delicious food. Two minutes passed. Suri lay motionless and tried not to blink. Then another five minutes went by. Suri’s neck became numb and her ears began to tilt to the sides.

“Give it back! It’s mine!” Suddenly, there was a shrill growl, “I’ll catch up with you, and then you’ll get it!” And a crowd of her friends and brothers swept past Suri with joyful screams, jokingly fighting for a huge, bristling cone.

Suri’s hind legs trembled impatiently, and an excited bark, although it was more like a squeak, escaped from her throat. Forgetting about her wait for the new food, she rushed to catch up with the puppies. All in all, Suri was still very young and, like all small children, she did not have enough patience for a long wait.

They played all day, interrupted only by the occasional sleep and gathering around their mother for to drink warm milk.

It was late at night when dad appeared. The puppies were already dozing, curled up in one big ball on a pile of leaves at the far end of the pipe. Hearing dad’s steps and slightly hoarse breathing, Suri and the brothers immediately jumped up and ran to meet him. Squealing, they circled their father and jumped up, trying to lick him on the nose or cheek but instead fell on their backs and offered their pink tummies to dad’s wet nose. Dad sniffed and licked everyone, then tilted his head and lifted something off the floor. It was a large bone with leftover meat.

“Fresh food!” Suri squealed happily, and all the puppies rushed to the treat. They began to sniff, touch with their paws and, of course, try to gnaw on the long-awaited adult food.

“Fo wummy!” Suri’s mouth was full, and speaking with a busy mouth is, as you know, most uncomfortable, not to say difficult. Therefore, Suri decided to save all her surprise and gratitude for later. Moreover, the tussle for the best place near the bone and the most delicious pieces was serious! The puppies snarled at each other, snorted and waved their paws, all in the name of protecting their spot.

Suri was so carried away by gnawing at her prey that she did not notice dad drawing his eyebrows into a frown and mom’s slightly worried look.

“They grow up so fast — they’ll need more food soon,” said dad, not taking his eyes off the puppies for a moment. “It’s just getting harder and harder to get it. Everywhere we go, they chase us away.”

“It’s fine, we can handle it,” mom said encouragingly and pressed her head against dad’s shoulder. “The world of humans is big enough for us to find our place and our food as well.”

Suri heard their conversation but did not understand anything. She continued to chew and lick her part of the bone. Her first adult meal.

Chapter 5. Granny Pea

Suri always believed that she had been blessed with the best family. A beautiful mom, a big, strong dad, and brothers that she loved very much, despite the rough and tumble of their boyish games.

But most of all, Suri loved her grandmother. Granny Pea was very different from the rest of the dogs in their big pack. She was short, with thick, long golden hair, neatly pointed ears, and a very proud posture. Granny Pea always walked with her head held high and her long, slender legs taking graceful steps. Some might have thought her arrogant, but no, far from it. She had no airs and graces, did not turn up her nose at others and did not think she was better than anyone else. Granny Pea was very kind; she always helped everyone with either advice or deed. For example, she looked after all the puppies very well and told amazing stories. All the puppies loved Granny Pea, and every adult dog respected her. But Suri had a special love for her.

Suri had always been a most curious puppy. Every day she tried to learn something new for herself. Explore a new location. Taste a new puddle. Find the largest or most unusual walnut for her collection. But most of all, Suri loved to lay down with Granny Pea in the shade of a tree and listen to her treasure trove of old stories and fairy tales. Grandma knew a lot of fairy tales. Fairy tales, in particular, because while mom and dad also told the puppies stories about where they had been and what they had seen, Granny Pea always told magical, incredible tales — that were not known by a single dog in the pack. In these fairy tales, there were large houses, soft carpets, and warm couches. There were fireplaces — such strange things in which a dangerous and terrible fire burned. But within the fireplace, the fire was tame and warm, and you could lie near and bask in it. The most fabulous things of all were the bowls which overflowed with delicious food: meat, bones, and even milk. They were incredible stories, all right.

“How do you come up with such tales?” Suri once asked her grandmother.

“I’m not making it up,” grandma replied. “I really saw it all.”

“And you slept in a warm bed?”


“And you ate meat from a bowl?” Suri’s stomach grumbled, and she was drooling at the thought.

“I did,” her grandmother smiled.

“Where did you do all this?” Suri tried hard to imagine a pipe or a hole in which there could be a soft bed and a bowl of meat. But even Suri’s rich imagination could not summon up such miraculous things.

“All this was at the house of my friend — my human,” grandmother sighed and looked sadly into the distance.

“HUMAN?” Suri shouted in amazement.

Dad and mom had told them about people. After all, it was always around people that they found food for themselves and their children. But there was always danger and anxiety attached to these stories.

“Remember, children,” dad had once said, “you must never get close to people. If you come across them unexpectedly, hide or run for it.”

“Are they really that scary?” the puppies asked, wiggling their ears in fright.

“They are unpredictable. They could scream right out, kick you, or throw stones at you. They don’t like us taking the food that they throw away.”

“Are they so greedy?” asked the cowering puppies.

“Yes. They are greedy. They won’t even give us what they don’t want or need,” Dad said with a frown. “People think we are dangerous and so they chase us away.”

“Are all people like that?” Suri asked timidly. For some reason, she did not want to believe in such scary stories at all.

Dad looked at her closely.

“No, baby, not all people are like that. They say there are good and kind humans,” for some reason, while saying this, dad turned to look at Granny Pea, who was sleeping nearby. “But this is not something you can know by just looking at them, and you should never try to check because it is too dangerous. A person can sound friendly when it calls you, but when you come closer… WHAM!”

The puppies loved their dad so much and, of course, believed him and perceived grandmother’s stories as fairy tales. They believed in her, certainly, but she was always at home; dad was the one who used to go out to get food and he was the one who saw people, which meant that dad’s stories had to be true.

However, Suri still could not fully believe her dad. Something inside her, in her little heart, said that her grandmother was also right, and what she was telling were not fairy tales; there could be such people too!

So, every day Suri and her grandmother lay down ever more comfortably in the shade and talked.

Suri once asked:

“Granny Pea, how come all other dogs have no names — even mom and dad and my brothers — but you and I have? And only you call me by name — well, sometimes mom does too.”

“Because, my little Suri, the rest of the dogs chose to have no name. More precisely, to have no human name. They have seen too much bad and too little good from people. I kept my name, and I gave you your name.”

And, in fact, the dogs in the pack did not really call each other by name. If a dog was black, then it was called so — Black. Big White Dog was hence called exactly that. Everyone called Suri’s dad Red, and her mom was called Fluffy.

In the whole pack, only Suri’s grandmother had an actual name: Busya.

“Grandma, what does your name mean?” Suri asked. “And where did it come from?”

“A human gave it to me,” answered Granny Pea. “Or rather, I always had it, and my human just said it out loud.”

“Always had it? How’s that?” Suri was very confused.

Grandma looked carefully at her granddaughter.

“Well, it’s time for you to know this, since you’re asking.” She moved closer to Suri. “Every dog… Remember this, Suri… Every single dog has its own name. It does not describe it just like Black or White. It may not mean anything, it just is.

And in the life of each dog, a special person can appear who will call it by name. Only that person will know it, and that person will be the first to call a dog by name. And when a person names that dog, they will forever be friends and will be together.”

“Did your human say your name?” A strange sensation crept into Suri’s throat, which made it difficult to breathe.

“Yes, my little Suri. My human found me and gave me my name,” Granny Pea answered quietly.

“How? When?” Suri was barely able to find her voice.

“It was a long time ago. I was still living with my mom and her human. I had brothers and sisters; a big friendly family. And each of us had our own name. My name was Pearl.

“Pearl?” Suri pricked up her ears in surprise. “Isn’t your name Pea?”

“I became Pea here, in the flock. Dogs really didn’t like my human name. They called me Small because I was the smallest. But then they agreed to Pea.

Grandma smiled a little sadly.

“So, Suri, I lived with my mother. When my brothers and sisters and I grew up, different people began to come to our house. They played with us, told us how cute we were, and then someone would suddenly called one of the puppies by name. It was wonderful to suddenly realize that this was your human! And that puppy, whose name was spoken, left with the human to go and live in their house. This is how my human appeared. One day, a very nice lady in a beautiful dress and with a glamorous hairstyle came to see us. She took me in her arms and brought me closer to her face. She smelled of flowers and of something warm. It was such a lovely aroma that I could not resist, and I licked her right on the nose!”

Suri giggled, and Granny Pea laughed:

“Imagine, I licked such a beautiful lady on the nose!” Granny Pea stared dreamily into the distance.

“And what did the lady do?” Suri asked.

“She laughed and said ‘Oh, you are my Pearl!’ And she kissed me back. So I realized that it was she who was my human.”

“And you began to live with her? What about yourmom? Didn’t you miss her?” Suri felt sad for some reason. She could not imagine her own mother not being there. Or her dad. Or her brothers.

“Of course I missed them at first. Out of habit, I whimpered and cried. But my lady was extremely kind. When I cried, she always took me in her arms, consoled me, and gave me a tasty treat. And at night she put my bed next to hers and caressed me until I fell asleep. This is how our world works — when we grow up, we leave our parents and go to live with the one who is our destiny.”

Grandma, a pensive look on her face, fell silent and Suri was also deep in thought. For a while they just lay there, each turning things over in their minds.

Suri tried to imagine what a bed was like. Is it as soft as grass? Did it also tickle the paws and tummy? And if it was similar, then how could it be moved somewhere else? Because grass always grew in the same place. And what did a person look like? Grandmother said that people walked on their hind legs, and with their front legs — rather, what she called their arms — they touched and did everything, even carrying different things with them. Suri once tried to walk like a human, but it was very uncomfortable. Her paws were all a’quiver, and she fell over constantly.

Suri also tried to imagine what it would be like to be “taken in a person’s arms” and “stroked on the head.” Was it like how mom and dad used to carry them with their teeth to move them from place to place? Did humans also lick one’s face with their warm tongues?

Suri dreamed so much about this, that at some point she even saw Grandma’s beautiful lady. She was standing in the shade of a tree, guarding a large bone in between her front paws, and wagging her fluffy tail. And next to her was Granny Pea.

Suri woke up and shook her head in confusion. What a strange vision! After all, people don’t have tails!

“Grandma, where did your lady go?” asked Suri, staring at her grandmother.

In turn, grandma gazed dreamily into the distance, and it was clear that she was a little sad. Suri’s question brought her out of her reverie. She looked at her granddaughter and said:

“It was not the lady who left, my dear. It was I who left. It so happened that I ran away and could not come back.”

“Why did you run away?” asked Suri, in surprise. “Did you have a hard life with her? Did the lady mistreat you, like all people do?”

“Of course not!” Granny Pea answered, indignantly. “My lady was always very kind to everyone. Like all the other people who lived next to us. She would never hurt me!”

“Sorry, grandma, I didn’t mean to upset you.” Suri’s ears were flushed with embarrassment.

“It’s fine, Suri, I’m not angry,” Granny Pea smiled. “I didn’t deliberately run away from my lady. We lived happily together as friends for many years. We walked, played, went on visits. Once we went to see her friends in the city. There was some kind of holiday, and in the evening we went for a walk. My lady put my favorite collar and leash on me. I never walked where there were a lot of people without my collar and leash. And this time, there was indeed a great crowd of people. We had a nice walk, and as it was already dark we went home. But that was when the nightmare began. The earth began to rumble, for some reason people shouted joyfully, and very bright lights appeared in the sky. There were so many of them, and they exploded so loudly that I almost went deaf and saw almost nothing but dazzling sparks. I jerked to the side, trying to hide from this nightmare. The collar slipped from me and I ran away. I forgot that my lady would protect me if I stayed close to her. I just ran for cover, and the lights continued to explode over my head.

Grandma fell silent.

“What a terrifying ordeal!” Suri felt that her grandmother was trembling a little, and pressed against her to calm her down.

“Yes, it was scary,” grandmother continued with a sigh. “But I was even more scared when I realized that I was lost. That my lady was not around, that I was in an unfamiliar place and completely alone! I had never walked alone and had no idea what to do. At first I decided to follow my tracks back, but they were overwhelmed by all the other smells. It was already night, so I hid in a box. I stayed in it until the morning, and then went out searching for my lady, for my home. It turned out that I had ran to some sort of park. I wandered for a long, long time, but did not find my lady. Several days passed like that. I was very tired and hungry. And then I met your grandfather.”

Suri pricked up her ears in delight. She loved the story of her grandparents so much. Suri never met her grandfather, as he disappeared long before her birth, but her grandmother spoke about him so often and so vividly that Suri loved him as if she had known him all her life.

“You know the rest of the story,” Granny Pea continued. “I still missed my lady. But then your mother was born, and I understood that everything was happening for the best. At some point, your grandfather left, and we started wandering again, and then I met the pack. Now we live here, and that’s that.”

“Would you still like to find your lady? Do you think she still remembers you?” Suri looked into her grandmother’s sad eyes and almost welled up with tears of her own as she wished for grandma’s happiness.

“Of course she remembers me! I’m sure my lady is still looking for me. But it is probably not our destiny.” Granny Pea looked affectionately at Suri. “And I have your mother, after all, as well as my grandchildren. And I have you, my beloved little Suri. I am very, very happy with you.”

Grandma pulled Suri towards her and hugged her with her front paws. Suri licked her grandmother’s little black nose, and both of them, happy and peaceful, continued to lie in the shade on the soft grass. Life is great when there are loved ones around!

Chapter 6. Autumn

Summer passed, almost imperceptibly, and autumn came. Suri had grown up. From a small ball of fur, she had turned into a long-legged, slender teenager. Her fur remained as soft, but now it stuck out in strange bunches, which Suri was not keen on. She had hoped with all her heart that she would resemble her mother and grandmother! Their hair was long, fluffy, and exceptionally beautiful, especially on the chest and neck. But most beautiful of all was grandma’s tail! The coat there was long, almost white, and fluttered like a cloud when Granny Pea happily wagged her tail.

Suri’s tail looked more like a shaggy twig; what’s more, her neck was thin and the fur there grew in uneven bunches — sometimes long, sometimes fluffy. Suri was highly disappointed.

“Mom!” Once, it all got to be too much for Suri, and she ran to complain to her mother. “Mom! This is very unfair!”

“What is unfair, my baby?” Mom looked at her daughter in surprise.

“It’s not fair that I am like this!” Suri cried.

“Like what?” Mom was completely at a loss.

“Well, this… ugly.” Suri lowered her head so that her mother would not see her tears, but a trembling voice betrayed her. “You and grandma are so beautiful! And I thought I would be like you! Dad is also handsome, and my brothers take after him. But I…” Suri buried her nose in her mother’s neck. “I don’t look like anyone. I’m like some kind of shaggy branch.”

“My silly thing,” mom gently pressed her muzzle to Suri. “What a fool you are! You are exceptionally beautiful!”

“Not true,” Suri sniffed, but she still looked at her mother with hope.

“It is the truth! So beautiful! And you will become even more beautiful,” mom winked.

“How do you know?” Suri narrowed her eyes.

“Because I myself was a ‘shaggy branch’ at your age,” mom laughed. “That’s right, and I too, would run to complain to my mother, Granny Pea!”

“Really?” Suri brushed away the remnants of her tears and her eyes sparkled with joy. “So, I will soon become as beautiful as you and grandma?”

“Well, I can’t say it will be soon, but in a year you definitely will!”

“A year is a long time!” Suri pretended to be outraged, but in fact she was ecstatic.

The world around Suri also began to change. The nights were longer and cooler. The grass was no longer as soft as at the beginning of summer — it turned yellow and became tough. Thorns and thistles appeared everywhere, which clung to the fur, burrowed deep into it, and stuck fast. One had to constantly pull them out with the teeth. Suri found it terribly annoying. She even tried rolling and writhing around on the grass, thinking that by doing this the thorns would fall off faster, but all she succeeded in doing was sticking them to herself even more firmly.

The worst thing was when thorns clung to her fur. Smooth-haired dad and her brothers had no idea how troublesome this was. Mom and grandmother walked very carefully and tried not to go near the tall grass and bushes. But Suri’s curiosity often got the better of her, and she was constantly forgetting about the thorns as she ran through the bushes with joy, catching lizards and grasshoppers. She paid the price afterwards, though, laying down in front of her mother or grandmother and enduring the tedious process of them pulling all of the nasty invaders out of her fur.

It is worth relaying a couple of stories about grasshoppers. By the end of the summer, Suri discovered that she, too, could hunt and forage. Of course, mom and dad brought food, but the puppies had grown so much that there was not enough of it for everyone. One day Suri noticed something small, something jumping. It leaped so swiftly and so far that none of the puppies could catch it. They all would run after the little jumpers, snapping their jaws loudly, but nothing came of it. The grasshoppers dodged them deftly and hid in the dry grass.

Then Suri decided to try another method. She moved away from the noisy flock of puppies and began to look closely at an especially large grasshopper that jumped on a nearby blade of grass. Suri froze, then approached it, ever so quietly, so that the grasshopper did not notice her. Suddenly, she jumped on it. Crushing it with her front paws and sticking up her behind and wagging tail in a comical fashion. It turned out to be very effective! Suri was quick to bury her nose between her paws and munch on her prey. The grasshopper was delicious!

If Suri had not been so hungry, she probably would not have eaten them, but instead just played with the jumping creatures, trying to catch up with them and outsmart them. But a fast-growing puppy needs a lot of food, and although mom and dad always shared the booty with everyone, the portions turned out to be small. So Suri was happy to run and jump this way and that, all across the clearing, catching grasshoppers with her little paws. Finally, she had plenty to eat!

Of course, she shared her hunting secret with the other puppies. However, none of them had Suri’s skill, and the grasshoppers would still escape from them. Suri began to catch them for her brothers and friends. How grateful they were to her! For the puppies, grasshoppers were probably as much of a delicacy as ripe berries are for children. Everyone began to call Suri a hunter. Suri herself was very proud that she, the smallest one in the pack, could help and feed others just like an adult dog.

As the nights grew colder, the trees around them began to change.

“Grandma, what happened to the leaves?” Suri looked in amazement at her and her grandmother’s beloved tree. “They’ve become kind of strange!”

“They’ve just turned yellow. That’s what happens in the fall,” Grandma replied. “Then they will begin to tumble from the trees and spin ever so beautifully to the ground. You can run after them and try to catch them before they land!”

“Will the trees be completely bare?” Suri was not the least bit keen on this prospect. “And how are we going to lie down together in the shade?”

Granny Pea sighed.

“Suri, you don’t need shade in winter. It will be cold, and we will need to seek out every ray of sunshine to keep warm. But don’t think about that now,” said Granny Pea, noticing that Suri was looking increasingly puzzled. “Winter is not yet here, and it is not too cold to go play with your brothers!”

Suri nodded happily and rushed off to enjoy more of her still carefree childhood.

Chapter 7. Humans

So far in her short life, Suri had never seen a person. Both her parents and other dogs had occasionally talked about people. Especially when they returned with food in the evening and rested near their homes. The stories were different — sometimes scary, sometimes funny, about danger and about courage, about greed and sometimes about generosity. Of course, Granny Pea also talked about humans. Suri often imagined people — how they looked, how they walked, what their talk was like, what they smelled like. And, despite the terrible stories and warnings of adults, she really wanted to meet and get to know a person. But Suri could not have imagined that such a meeting would happen like this…

One morning, when mom and dad had just woken up and Granny Pea and the puppies were still dozing, an alarmed neighbour, Big White Dog, dropped in to see them.

“Come out quickly! Some people are here!” said Big White Dog almost growling.

“People?” Suri awoke instantly, jumped up, and ran towards the exit.

“Get back!” A loud order from dad made her stop abruptly and snuggle to the floor.

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