His life wasn't always as easy as all-day dog naps and late-night stakeouts…
He was five weeks old when he was rescued by the California SPCA. The shelter felt cold and clinical, but his people there had warm smiles and good hearts, and they would scratch him behind his ears and pet him on his head and give him food and water and toys and love.
He was scared and shaky on the day he was taken from the shelter and his family. His mother and brothers and sisters watched from their cages as he was carried away, and he whimpered softly when he realized that they weren't coming with him.
The new person was nice enough, although she wasn't affectionate like some of his people at the shelter. But she gave him a home and a name, and the newly anointed Backup liked her just fine.
He didn't, however, like all of the exercises she made him do, or the way her voice would get low and scary when he didn't follow her directions. So he quickly learned to do as he was told, and he would bite the doll when she said, "Attack!" and he would let go when she said, "Release!" and he would wag his tail when she told him, "Good job!" and then gave him one of those yummy bacon treats he liked so much.
Months had passed and Backup was much bigger and his lady was talking to him differently. "Are you going to be a good boy and listen to everyone?" she asked him, uncharacteristically sweet as she crouched in front of him and scratched under his chin, his favorite spot. Backup tilted his head to the side and watched her anxiously. He didn't like her words and the way she said them, and he didn't like how his food bowl and chew toys were packed up in a box next to the door. No, he didn't like it at all.
"You're a good dog, Backup," she said. "You're going to do great things."
He felt anxious then, the air around him humming with change. He didn't want to go, didn't want to leave another good person who loved him and who he loved. What would happen next? Who would take care of him now, and who would he take care of?
And what if…what if this new person was like the mean man from before? Backup paced in front of the door with nervous energy. No, he didn't like this.
When he heard the knock, saw the shadow darkening their doorstop, Backup barked. His lady pulled at his leash then, moving him back so she could greet the stranger.
"How are you, Sheriff?"
Backup panted, his eyes darting between the two people as they talked back and forth. Scared and resigned to his fate, Backup lay down at his lady's feet and rested his chin on the hardwood floor.
"Hey there, buddy," the new man said, and Backup lifted his head to find the man kneeling in front of him. This man, this Sheriff person, then stuck out his hand for Backup to give a cursory sniff. Never one to be able to resist a new smell, Backup pushed his cold nose against the man's palm, and the man chuckled, his kind eyes as shiny and bright as the top of his head.
"You want to come work with me, big guy?" the man asked, and Backup's ears perked up at that, his tail wagging involuntarily.
When the man reached out and scratched his neck, hitting his favorite spot, Backup thought that maybe he could grow to like this after all.
The two years spent at the Balboa County Sheriff's Department had its ups and downs.
Backup didn't like:
-Car rides with that Sacks guy. He drove too slow and never put the window down so Backup could stick his head out and enjoy the weather.
-Visits to the elementary school. He liked little kids but too many scared him.
-The other police dogs, like Buster and Doyle. Backup didn't understand German Shepherds.
-Car rides with Keith. He'd even let Backup sit up front sometimes.
-Smelling the bright yellow lockers at the high school. He liked smelling things.
-Days when he didn't have to work with Deputy Lamb.
-Veronica, Keith's daughter. She would always sneak in to play and even Buster and Doyle adored her.
The day that Keith was leaving, wearing street clothes as he packed up his belongings in cardboard boxes, Backup was as nervous as he had ever been. He didn't want to stay if his person wasn't.
"Maybe you can take this fleabag with you," Lamb said, tugging harshly on Backup's leash as they entered the station.
Oh, Backup liked that idea! He panted happily as he looked up at a tired Keith, who smiled sadly back at him. "What do you say, boy? You want to come live with us?"
Backup barked enthusiastically, his tail wagging hard against the tile floor, and he knew that Keith had his answer.
"It's not like the mutt ever listened to me, anyway," Lamb said, handing over the leash.
It was the happiest day of Backup's life when he got to move in with the Mars family, but other things were happening, things that he couldn't understand, and it was a tense time for his people.
Veronica literally welcomed him with open arms and a big smile, but the light in her eyes was gone and Backup didn't know why.
Sometimes at night, while he lay curled beside her, she would cry.
The day the mom left, Backup wasn't sad. She never liked him…
"Do you really think we need a dog right now, Keith?"
…and so it was a relief to not have to worry about trying to stay out of her way. That was something that got harder to do when they moved out of the house and into the small apartment.
But Backup was worried about Veronica, and he watched her carefully to make sure she was okay.
She didn't cry anymore.
Spring turned into summer which turned into fall, and Veronica's hair changed from long to short, and her clothes from light to dark. She had a new friend now, too. Lots of things changed, and even Backup felt different.
Backup loved Veronica's new friend, Wallace. Wallace smelled like the beach the first time they met, and Backup loved the smell of the beach. Wallace was also nice to Veronica, and Backup loved anyone who was nice to Veronica.
It didn't hurt that Wallace sometimes snuck Backup human food, and Backup loved human food.
When Wallace spent the night on their couch, Backup slipped out of Veronica's bedroom and jumped on the sofa to snuggle against him. He stretched out, his long and heavy body taking up most of the space from Wallace, who never complained and just held him tighter.
Stakeouts were fun because it meant he got to go for a car ride, and there were few things that he enjoyed more than a car ride. But they could get boring, those long nights of sitting in the backseat for hours on end. Veronica usually studied while she waited. Backup usually napped.
The first time Backup met Weevil, he had the young man's best friend's arm in his mouth.
The second time Backup met Weevil, Veronica had broken into his apartment and brought Backup as backup.
The first time Backup met Weevil, Backup understood why Veronica wanted him to be ready to attack on command. But the second time Backup met Weevil, he…didn't.
They might have only met twice, but Backup considered himself a good judge of character. Chalk it up to animal instinct, but Backup knew that Weevil wouldn't ever hurt Veronica. Even if she wasn't so sure herself.
It was a chilly February night when Logan Echolls first came to their door for Veronica. Backup watched from the hallway as they talked briefly, his head tilting sideways as he studied the way Logan nervously pulled his jacket tighter against his body.
Logan didn't stay for long, and he hadn't even noticed Backup. After he left, Veronica went to her room and started work on her computer and, bored, Backup decided to take a nap in Keith's room.
It was warm and sunny the next time he saw Logan, and the boy's obvious change in demeanor confused him even though it matched the weather again.
"I just need to drop off some books in my room and then we can go," Veronica told him as Logan looked around the apartment, his hands in the front pockets of his jeans but his body language much less guarded.
"You got a dog?" Logan called out, grinning once he finally spotted Backup lounging on the sofa.
"Yeah," Veronica shouted back from her room. "His name's Backup."
"Hi, Backup," Logan kindly said, moving to approach him. Backup sat up on the couch, alert now, and Logan held out his hand for him to sniff, just as Keith Mars had done years before.
By the time Veronica had emerged from her room, her makeup fresh and hair brushed, Backup was nestled against Logan on the couch, resting blissfully as the young man scratched an area behind the dog's ears that felt even better than any of his previous sweet spots.
"It must be hell trying to squeeze him into a little Louis Vuitton shoulder bag," Logan told her as he continued to pet Backup.
"Yeah, but he loves it when I dress him up in tutus and tiaras."
"I am so sorry. I know now it wasn't you and I'm sorry I accused you."
"It's fine. You okay?"
"It's not fine. I'm really sorry."
"Veronica. All I care about is you, okay? Did you find something out?"
"Well, do you want to tell me about it? I mean, you-you don't have to, you don't have to tell me anything. I'm just here for whatever you need, okay?"
"I was drugged but I wasn't…"
"I was with Duncan."
Backup watched them from the hallway, his curiosity piqued. They were facing each other on the couch, Veronica's hands clasped in Logan's, his eyes watching her carefully. At her admission, Logan looked off to the side, his throat muscles straining as he swallowed thickly.
"Apparently we ended up in the guest room together and he was wasted and I was…out of it…and I guess our feelings and nature…"
"I'm just glad you're here."
She squeezed his hand then, and Backup could see that she seemed lighter, happier. She was much better than she was earlier, when she came home with tear-stained cheeks and locked herself in her room before calling Logan. And she wasn't angry with the boy like she was before, when she wouldn't even let him through the door, much to Backup's disappointment.
But Logan was different now, like whatever weight Veronica had been carrying was shifted onto him. Though he was clearly burdened by something, he tried to shake it off for Veronica's sake.
"Are you hungry?" he asked her, smiling shyly. They made plans for dinner at Logan's house, and on their way out, Logan reached down to once again pet Backup, who watched him with concern.
The next time he saw Logan it was even worse. The boy looked utterly destroyed, and even as Veronica pulled back on the leash, her sign to him to be on guard and ready to go, all Backup could think was that he needed to comfort his new friend.
He licked his face, tasted the salt against Logan's skin, and hoped that helped.
But as Keith ran toward them, shouting, and Logan walked away, confused and broken, Backup realized that there were some things even a kiss couldn't fix.
Backup was tired but proud as he rested at the foot of Veronica's bed. The mom was gone again, but Veronica was safe and she had assured him that Keith would be okay, and so he allowed himself to sleep.
He woke up at the sound of knocking and watched lazily as Veronica crawled out of bed to answer the door.
"I was hoping it would be you."
When Logan collapsed against Veronica, and she struggled to hold him up and get him to the couch, Backup jumped from the bed and dashed into the living room, alert as ever. But there was nothing he could do to help either of them, and so he observed them quietly as Veronica wiped away Logan's blood while he wept, and then he watched helplessly as the Leo guy took Logan away in handcuffs.
Veronica cried herself back to sleep that night, and Backup didn't leave her side.
Veronica was finishing up her makeup when Keith alerted her of her gentleman caller. This boy who they called Duncan rarely came into their home, and when he did, he always ignored Backup.
One time, in a bid to outright demand attention, Backup stood firmly by Duncan's side and nuzzled the top of his leg, waiting expectantly for some sign of interest. But the boy just looked down at him and smiled tightly, his eyes melancholy.
Fed up, Backup walked away. Really, it was as if the guy had never had a dog to love before.
Duncan hadn't been around for awhile, and it wasn't like when Wallace went away but then came back (and oh how happy Backup was when Wallace came back). With the way Veronica was acting, Backup had a feeling that Duncan wouldn't return.
She was better now, though. Maybe kisses couldn't fix everything, but time seemed to do the trick.
Now if only time would help her and Keith. He didn't like it when his people fought…
Summer was Backup's favorite season; it meant Veronica was around more, and not only did that mean more beach walks, but it also meant that he'd get to see more of her friends, Wallace and Mac.
And Logan. Logan always seemed to be around for the summer. Backup loved that Logan was spending more time at their place now. He'd been so confused the night that Keith yelled at Logan and threw him out, and he'd wondered about Logan a lot since then.
But things were looking up for everyone again, and they had been ever since that night when Logan and Veronica came home and Backup wondered why they both seemed so upset.
That didn't matter now, though, because it was summer, and summer was Backup's favorite season.
"I'll be back on Monday," Keith announced as he finished packing up his suitcase. "The number for the hotel is on the fridge."
"Have a safe trip. I love you," Veronica told him, hugging him tightly before making her way to her bedroom.
At least Veronica would be staying home this time. Backup hated going to the kennel.
"You know the drill, boy," Keith said, crouching down to pet him. "Keep an eye on things. Keep Veronica safe." He reached into his pocket for something, and Backup wagged his tail excitedly when he caught a whiff of his favorite treat. "And if Logan tries to touch her anywhere but her hands, go for his throat."
Keith was gone a lot that summer, and while Backup missed him, he didn't mind getting the chance to spend more quality doggie-daughter time with Veronica.
Sometimes Logan would come over and they'd all watch movies together after eating pizza, and sometimes they'd even feed him the crusts. Backup loved that.
Then they would start kissing and soon Veronica would be pulling Logan to his feet and to her room, and just as Backup was following them, Logan would say, "Sorry, boy," and then he'd shut the door in his face. Backup hated that.
Sometimes they would go to Logan's, and Backup would get to ride in the elevator and they'd ignore the dirty looks from the people who worked at the fancy hotel. Then Logan would order room service and sometimes they'd even feed him leftover pieces of steak. Backup loved that.
Then they would start kissing and soon Logan would be pulling Veronica to her feet and to his room, and just as Backup was following them, Veronica would say, "Go sleep on the couch, boy," and she'd shut the door in his face. Backup hated that.
But he always knew they'd come out eventually, after all of the yelling and pounding sounds Backup didn't understand. It was a good thing he trusted Logan.
And, well, the treats Logan always gave him didn't hurt, either.
Fall was okay, too, but Backup usually got bored when Veronica was busy with school and cases.
But he loved when she'd take him along for protection. It reminded him of the good old days of late nights outside The Camelot or confrontations with scary drug smugglers. He always felt so proud and strong, strutting along in front of her, ready to pounce at any hint of danger. Logan would come along too, at times, and Backup appreciated the backup.
It always meant a lot to him when she would take him along now, because sometimes it felt like she didn't need him anymore.
Winter came and Logan was gone again. Backup just didn't understand.
"Wow…so…you have a pitbull." Backup's head cocked to the side as he regarded the nervous boy with shaggy hair.
"Yeah. This is Backup. Backup, this is Piz."
"I had no idea you had a…pitbull."
"You didn't meet him when you visited with Mac and Wallace? Huh, he must've been in my dad's room then."
"Is he, uh…friendly?"
"When I want him to be," Veronica said, grinning.
That didn't seem to do anything to reassure Piz, who was watching Backup with wide, scared eyes.
"Did I ever tell you the story about my neighbor Dave and his pitbull?" he asked her as he stood frozen in his spot by the door.
"No," she replied, her brow furrowed in confusion.
"So I never told you about Dave and his pitbull and how he had his pitbull chase me down the street because I stole his Nerf football?"
Backup's head tilted to the other side. He was confused, too. Piz seemed to take that as some sort of challenge, and he stumbled backwards, hitting the wall.
"I-I had to climb up a tree, Veronica," he stammered.
"You know what, I'll just put Backup in my room now, too," Keith said, finally breaking into the conversation. "C'mon, boy, let's go."
Piz came over quite a bit for awhile there. Backup knew this because he was forced to spend a lot of time in Keith's bedroom.
Summer was back, Piz seemed to be gone, and Backup was perfectly content. He still wondered about Logan, though.
Then one day while he was at the beach with Veronica, Backup spotted him sitting on a blanket a few yards away. He barked happily and took off, bounding toward his old friend with immeasurable glee.
"Hey, Backup! Hey!" he said, patting him on the head as Backup settled in beside him.
"Hi," Veronica told him awkwardly. "How've you been?"
Logan didn't seem to mind her discomfort, and he stared up at her with a wide smile. "Well, I'm still alive. How're you?"
"Fine. I'm okay," she said, nodding.
"Leaving for your internship soon?"
"Uh, no. It didn't work out."
Logan's smile fell away at that. "Oh. I'm sorry."
Veronica sighed, and, decided, moved to take a seat next to Backup. "Thanks."
"So…what happened? I mean, if you want to tell me-"
She smiled then, a genuine smile that actually reached her eyes, and interrupted him with her story. Backup half-listened to their words as he relaxed in the sun and watched the other beach-goers walk along the sand.
He didn't always understand what they were talking about, but he had a feeling he'd be seeing more of Logan again.
It was a big day for Veronica. Backup watched Keith as he fiddled with the camera and double-checked the batteries. "What time did you tell Logan and Wallace we'd meet them?" he yelled.
"Noon. But Mac's coming over first since she can't go out to dinner with us afterwards," Veronica called back from her bedroom.
"Are you sure we won't be late?"
"We're fine!" she yelled, and Backup could hear the sounds of her rummaging around in her room.
She appeared a few minutes later, dressed in her black graduation gown and cap. Keith's mouth dropped open when he saw her, and he gently placed the camera on the coffee table and turned to his daughter. "You look gorgeous, honey."
"Nobody looks gorgeous dressed like this," she replied with an eye roll.
"My little girl does," he grinned, his eyes bright with happiness and unshed tears. "I'm so proud of you, Veronica."
Backup watched as they hugged, both surreptitiously wiping their eyes as they pulled away.
"Let's get started on the pictures. I've got two memory cards ready to go."
Veronica knew better than to argue, so she plopped down on the couch and hugged Backup to her. "Get one of us," she smiled, removing her cap and propping it on Backup's head.
The camera flashed, forever capturing the moment.
The pain wasn't bad now. The sharp burning in his side had slowly receded, and now all he felt was sleepiness.
But it hurt to see Veronica crying. That had always hurt.
This room was cold and clinical too, but he didn't mind as long as she was next to him. "You're gonna be okay," she kept repeating, her hand stroking his paw, careful to not bump the IV needle. "You're going to be okay, Backup."
He desperately wanted to close his eyes and sleep, but he was worried about Veronica. He knew she was safe now, but why was she crying?
"Veronica?" Logan asked quietly as he entered the room, his hand on the door frame.
She turned to look at him, the tears still trailing down her face. "Could you get a hold of him?"
Logan stared sadly at Backup as he nodded. "But he's still in Phoenix, and he won't be able to get back until the morning. He…he said that Backup shouldn't suffer."
Veronica's small body shook with sobs, and Logan hurried to comfort her. That made him feel better, to know that Logan would still be there for Veronica. She was Backup's favorite person, and he wouldn't hesitate to jump in front of another bullet for her.
Backup had been getting older, and Veronica rarely took him on stakeouts anymore. Maybe it was fate that made her decide to take him tonight while she did surveillance on the Fitzpatricks. Maybe it was fate because a long time ago he was told that he would do great things, and Backup couldn't think of anything greater than keeping Veronica safe.
"You're such a good boy," Logan told him as he gently rubbed Backup's head. Logan's own voice was rough with tears, and Backup knew that he was desperately trying to keep it together for Veronica. Poor Logan. He hadn't gotten the chance to be there when it all went down. He missed so much action tonight.
"Are you ready to say goodbye?" the veterinarian asked them, and Veronica wiped at her eyes before she nodded.
As the doctor administered the drugs into Backup's IV, Veronica held his paw in her hand and smiled down at him. There were still tears in her eyes and Backup didn't want to go until he knew she would be all right.
"Go to sleep, Backup," she whispered, squeezing his paw gently as Logan continued to stroke his head. "You can go to sleep now. I love you."
Veronica was the only one he had always listened to…
Backup was happy to find out that in dog heaven, it's forever summer…