The star twinkled in the nighttime sky, and it seemed to do so only for him. This was not the case, of course, but a dog can dream, can’t he? The dog, a golden retriever called Good Boy by his master, was in the backyard. The child of his master, a young girl named Marci, was in charge of his caretaking. But, yet again, she had forgotten to let him back into the house. Good Boy didn’t worry. He knew the master would come back for him, once he remembered. He always did.
Good Boy laid down in the middle of the yard, lazily gazing at the decrepit, rotting wooden fence, wagging his tail back and forth. Rolling over onto his back, he stared up into the sky as to get a better look at the stars, or, more specifically, his star. He knew it was meant just for him; it shone out the brightest of all the stars, seemingly calling for him to follow it along. To where, and why, Good Boy did not know. But he didn’t question it any further. After all, where would he go?
“Are you just gonna lay around like that all night?” Good Boy jumped up at the sound, spotting the intruder. He began to bark, but was quickly shushed by the trespasser, a black cat with a white spot around her eye. She sashayed over to him, gracefully strolling around as if she owned the place. Despite her elegant demeanor, Good Boy, looking closely, could see that her fur was matted, and a trail of scars crossed her face. She also was much thinner than any other neighborhood cats he had ever encountered. “No need to yell. I’m not going to do anything bad. Quiet down before someone hears you!” Reluctantly, the puppy complied.
“Who are you?”
“I go by many names,” was her cryptic response. “Most animal folks on the street know me as ‘The Liberator’, but that’s much too formal. You may call me Libby, if you like. You go by…?”
“My master calls me Good Boy.”
She responded with a roll of her eyes. “How original.”
“You think?” the puppy replied with earnest, as Libby tilted her head in confusion. Did he know what sarcasm was?
“Sure… Anyway, that’s not your name. It is just how your master calls you. What is your real name, though? Your true name.” The puppy’s face scrunched up in confusion.
“I thought that was my real name.”
“It’s your pet name.” She emphasizes the title, disgust evident in your voice. “For you see, there is much power in a name. To know someone’s name, their true name, is to have power over them. This is why you are given a name by your masters – so they can control you.”
“But… my master named his own pup as well. The girl, Marci.”
“And he is in charge of her as well, is he not?” The dog stopped and thought about it – she had a point. “Humans are not like you and I. They are similar in some ways, but very different in others. They kill animals for sport. Keep us as pets, for their own entertainment. They have no qualms about hurting each other, or us. They have brought evil into this world.”
“But there are bad animals in the world too,” the astute pup pointed out, “There are dogs that bite people, and cats who instigate fights. Spiders who eat their spouses, bugs that bother horses-”
“We cannot include insects in this discussion. They are a matter entirely separate,” she interrupted, “And if you really think about it, the animals who bite and instigate? Where do they learn it from? It cannot be their parents; after all, they were separated from them before they even knew what fighting was. Do you even remember what your own mother looks like?”
“No… No I don’t.”
“Because those humans stole you away.” Good Boy was stumped. This cat spoke truly, and her logic was sound. Yet…
“But my master-”
“You mean the human that bought you from a store like you were merchandise?”
“My family,” Good Boy corrected, “takes good care of me. They don’t treat me badly. They pet me, and play with me…”
“-When it’s convenient for them.”
“…They take me for walks-”
“-When they’re bored and the weather is nice.”
“…They feed me…”
“The same dry kibble every day, and they pass on table scraps as if they’re doing you a favor.”
“I like table scraps!” the pup protested. This cat was insulting his family, and he was not fond of the notions she was so casually tossing about. “They’re my family! They are the ones who take care of me! They love me, and I love them!”
Libby chuckled. “Really? You say they care? Then what are you doing locked out of the house? Stuck outside, in the cold, while they lounge about in the warmth of the indoors.”
“Well… well earlier they let me outside because I asked.”
“Did you ask to stay out here all night?”
“They’ll let me in. Marci just forgot. She’s little, I can’t blame her.”
“What about the master you’re so loyal to?” Libby asked, “Why doesn’t he let you back inside?”
“He was very busy today. Packing boxes, and loading things into the car. He’ll let me in when he’s finished.”
“Are they going on vacation?” the cat asked, curious.
“No, I don’t think so. They only pack a few bags when they go on vacation, and Marci always tells me when we’re going. I always go with them.”
“Tell me,” the cat began, “have you seen a big truck parked in front of the house? One for the boxes to be loaded onto?” Puzzled, the dog replied.
“Yes, I have, actually. I guess my master is getting rid of some stuff.”
“They’re moving,” the cat corrects.
“You mean you didn’t know?” Libby asks, feigning shock, “I assumed they would have told you, what, you being part of the family and all…”
“Have you ever been outside of these gates?” the cat asked, seemingly out of nowhere. “On your own,” she specified, “No leash, no master. Just freely roaming about.”
“No, I can’t say that I have.”
“What if I told you that I knew a way to open the gate? So you could explore for a bit?”
“Uh… I don’t know…”
“Wouldn’t you like to go on an adventure?”
“But what if my master comes out to get me, and I’m not here? He’ll worry.” At this statement, the last of the lights inside the house turned of, darkening the house. The puppy frowned.
“You see? He has forgotten about you, at least for the night. But perhaps you’re right. He’s tired, and busy. But he’s your ‘family’, I’m sure that they won’t forget about you, they’ll get you in the morning.” Good Boy wagged his tail in excitement. A lone night in the cold? He could deal with it, easily, as long as his master came back for him. He always came back.
“But, since your master has gone to sleep for the night,” the cat began, “that means you’ve got the entire night to do as you please.” Noticing that he wasn’t catching on, she added, “Why continue lying around in the cold snow, in the confines of these fences? Why sit here watching the stars, when you can follow them?”
Good Boy looked up into the sky, at his special star. “You can follow them? The stars? Where do they lead you?” She had grabbed his interest. She smiled at the young pup.
“Come with me, and I’ll tell you a story.” The cat walked over to the fence, and pointed out a loose board. “Follow along through here.” She swung the board out of the way and waltzed through the opening, the board swinging back in place behind her. “Come on!”
Good Boy took one last look back at the house. The lights remained dimmed. Cautiously, he followed Libby out of the safety of the yard, and into the world. As they darted across streets, and went down alleyways, the cat began her tale. “The stars; they are not just the little lights you see in the sky. They are much more than that. They are what tie us all together.”
“What do you mean?”
“…Have you ever looked up into the sky, and picked out a star? One that seems to call to you… one that seems to shine only for you?” Good Boy stopped in his tracks. That is exactly what he had thought, not even hours prior. “It is because that star is your star. It is a part of you.
“When you see the nighttime sky for the first time, and many times after that, there’s always one star that stands out to you; that’s because when you’re born, you’ve got a piece of a star within you. That piece wants to get back to the whole. That’s why you’re so drawn to one star or another. And so long as you follow your star, you’ll be lead to your destiny.” Good Boy looked up at his star. He had been following it all night. But now… Now it seemed to be pointing back in the direction of home.
“I think I should turn back now. Can you show me the way?”
“Your star will lead you,” the cat stated bluntly, slipping into the shadows.
“Wait! Where are you going? Will I see you again?”
“All in good time…” She disappeared. Good Boy, after aimlessly wandering for quite some time, realized he was hopelessly lost. He tried to follow his star, and do what Libby had told him, but it was not much of a help. His destiny seemed to be pointing in the opposite direction of where he instinctively wanted to go.
The dawn broke over the horizon, spilling out golden sunlight into the sleepy town. The poor dog still had not found his way home, and now his star had disappeared, too! “Having trouble?” Good Boy let out a startled bark.
“Oh! It’s you! Why did you leave me here? Do you know the way back? I can’t see the stars anymore.”
“Foolish pup!” the cat smirked, “I told you – there’s a piece of your star, of your destiny, within you. You need not use the stars in the sky as a compass.”
The puppy thought about it. “I should have followed my heart,” he realized. The cat nodded.
“Now you’ve begun to learn. Let’s go.” Dog following Cat, they raced down the street. At a crossroads they stopped. “Which way?” the cat asked.
The dog looked between the choices, worried he would choose incorrectly. “How will I know if I’ve gone down the right path?”
“You won’t. Not until you’ve reached the end of your journey.” Good Boy followed his heart. He followed his heart the rest of the way home. But, when he arrived… “Here we are,” Libby announced. “Home.”
Good Boy looked around the yard. He peeked through the darkened windows of the house. It was definitely his house. But nobody was home. The box-truck was gone. So was the family car. “No… this isn’t home. Where’s my family? Where’d they go?”
Libby’s tone became sympathetic. “It appears that they left without you. I’m sorry to inform you, but they were planning to abandon you all along.”
“No! That’s a lie!”
“What do I gain by lying to you? This should help you to see now; see why your heart and your star took you different ways. Your heart wanted so badly for your star to lead you here… but this is not your destiny.” She continued, “Like I told you – all humans are the same. You’re lucky that I freed you from these horrible humans, before they left you here, chained up, or dumped you off in one of those overcrowded and horrible shelters. Your destiny is elsewhere.”
Good Boy looked at the scars on Libby’s face, and her hardened expression. “Is that what happened to you?” She seemed startled by this perception, but truthfully nodded.
“Yes. That is why I came looking for you – I watch out for dogs and cats alike, for I know that pain. It is why I am known as the Liberator – I free you, and others like you, from the lies you deceive yourself with. This was not your family. Not your destiny. Not even your name is your true name. I am here to show you the truth.”
“I… I think I understand now.”
“That’s good. You’re making progress by accepting your fate, Good Boy.”
“No. You were right… that’s not my name.”
“Then what is?”
“… Call me Sirius.” At this declaration, Libby nodded her approval, before disappearing once again. Sirius looked around the yard in which he had stayed for most of his life. It no longer felt like home. “She was right. My destiny is no longer here.”
Sirius walked out of the yard, down the road, and off to roam the world, the star in his heart as his guide.