Gunnar paced through the small house. He had been in Maggie’s room, the one with the big bed next to his. It was his favorite when Maggie was gone. It was his favorite because it was strong with her scent. The clothes she had carelessly discarded on the chair and floor, the bedding she usually fail to straighten after getting up. But mostly the clothes she left behind. Sometimes, Maggie would come home to find some of her clothes mysteriously on Gunnar’s bed. It wasn’t mysterious at all to Gunnar. Although Maggie would sometimes wonder aloud how she had managed to drop any of her clothes there and even apologize to him for messing his bed, Gunnar knew very well it hadn’t been her at all but that he had gently picked the item up in his mouth, placed it on his bed, and curled up so his nose would be close to it. Her scent. When he felt lonely while she was away, her scent was all he needed. It seemed to him that the smallest of her clothes held the most scent and those were the ones that usually found their way to his bed.

Gunnar was pacing, though. It happened all the time. His concept of days wasn’t the same as Maggie’s. He didn’t really understand work days and weekends or holidays. He just understood that most days Maggie left for a long time and came back. The weekends and holidays, though, were indeed special. He didn’t understand why but Maggie didn’t leave in the morning and was more relaxed, happier, and gave him more attentions.

Gunnar’s understanding was very basic. Maggie safe and happy; pack safe and happy. Maggie was his pack. Maggie and Gunnar. The longer Maggie was away the more Gunnar became restless and paced, sniffing the air at any slight cracks in windows and door, cocking his head to detect sounds that might tell him something. When Maggie wasn’t there with him, Gunnar couldn’t protect her. When he couldn’t protect her, he didn’t know she was safe. If Maggie wasn’t safe, the pack wasn’t safe, and that uncertainty was stressful for Gunnar.

Gunnar was a large German Shepherd. Nearly a hundred pounds the Vet had told Maggie. Maggie had asked if that was normal, might he have some other breed in him, too? No, the Vet had said, he’s all German Shepherd and a magnificent specimen he is. That had caused Maggie to hug him around the neck. Whatever was said, he was happy. Maggie happy. Pack happy. Maggie had come to him (or him to her, as she saw it) from the city shelter. He had grown so large the young family he was with became nervous with their little c***dren. Gunnar hadn’t understood why his first pack had been taken away from him but he was even more determined to protect his new pack. Maggie was different, too. The other female in the other pack … she … well, Maggie was different and it made their pack stronger.