Title: Bump in the Road

Authors: Everstar and Niamh St. George

Summary: Sometimes Fate intervenes in mysterious ways. For example, on four wheels.

Rating: Violence, implied sexual situations

Note: The universe is neither anime nor manga, specifically, but a little bit of both. Characters not mentioned in the anime are mentioned here, but, by and large, events follow the anime. We have decided to acknowledge certain manga spoilers, having to do with specific characters (namely Akito).

A Bump in the Road
Prologue

I am not a dog.

First and foremost, I'm a man. I operate in society like a man. I think like a man. I live, day to day, like a man.

Or, I should say, I do... most of the time.

While I'm not a dog, I am the Dog.

Other dogs recognize it -- I am the Alpha male of an unfathomably large pack, and while I admit I feel a certain, instinctive... pull at times, I know that I do not belong with them. Unfortunately, I don't really belong around most people, either, which is a shame, really, since I rather like people. If I'm around them, it's to fulfill a purpose -- to achieve what I require.

What's even more unfortunate is that if I were a dog (and not a man), I know in the darkest part of my soul that I would be no loving, loyal family pet. I am not canis familiaris, no matter what most of my family may think. Oh, I might've been at one time, maybe. But that's a child's voice, drowned out forever.

A dog -- a true canis familiaris -- is loyal. The only person I'm loyal to is myself. I lie. I cheat. I have made an art of deception and duplicity. I use people, like the stray takes advantage of sympathy, empathy, and generosity.

It's not that I don't want to be loyal. It's that I can't. The one I call Master is not my master. She wants to be. She pretends to be. But she's not. She's too dangerous to be anyone's master. But I let her think that she is. Call it my survival instinct.

I'm not even loyal to the ones with whom I have been entrusted. Again, I want to be -- I do, but it's an impossibility at this point. I have chosen my route, and I must stick to it, for better or worse. I try not to think about it too much; I leave that to those who are better at caring for others.

Out of idle curiosity, I read an article once about feral dogs. It was informative enough, in a completely unhelpful sort of way. Well, unhelpful for me.

The article advised keeping them away from anything valuable -- crops, poultry, or livestock. Put up fences. Lay down traps. The feral dog can't be trusted. It may look like someone's pet, and may even act like someone's pet if necessary, but it's not. It's not what it appears at all; people must protect themselves against the feral dog. Don't feed it; don't invite it in to your home, thinking it's only a stray that's lost its family. It doesn't have one.

It's good advice -- sound advice. But it didn't tell me what I really wanted to know.

How long does it take for a stray or abandoned dog to become feral?

Can it ever come back?