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20. To my daughter Maisie, Happy Birthday.







  My life together with a golden hair is full of happiness. If you have such a little friend, remember to give it a name that it likes very much. So, Maisie, happy birthday.

  ****

  Everyone who comes to my house and pushes open the door will always shout with their eyes glowing, “where is Maisie, where is Maisie?”

  Then, a little figure with fluffy golden hair, more excited than they are, will burst out in front them. Jump and bark wildly as if welcoming them.

  Her dog hair will fly everywhere as she rolled on the floor.

  

  Maisie was never taught any commands, but she slowly learned on her own. She would blink her eyes while trying to discern what you were saying.

  She even learned to refuse food on her own. When food is placed in the bowl, she would look at me pitifully, and only when I touch her head would she start to eat with her head down. If I didn’t touch her head, she will always follow me wherever I go, sit next to me if I sit down while desperately tucking her head in my hand.

  One day, I was in a hurry so I forgot to touch her head after putting her food in the bowl. I quickly went to the supermarket to buy something. When I came back home after half an hour later, I heard a munching sound. I opened the door and saw that Maisie was eating the food on her bowl. It seemed she was too hungry and couldn’t win the temptation of the food and began to eat.

  I coughed, she immediately turned around and was stunned seeing me standing on the door. She stared at me dumbfoundedly for a while before twisting her dog head and spitting the food from her mouth.

  Before I could say anything, she reached out her front paw and pulled the dog food that fell on the ground and plucked it far away!

  She probably meant: I didn’t eat them…… I couldn’t help but laughed so hard that the plastic bag in my hand came off. I rubbed her head as I said, “Eat, eat, I have no rules that you have to be touched by me before eating.”

  She loved to eat and I also liked to feed her. If she didn’t like a brand of dog food after eating for a while, I would immediately change the brand. Sometimes I will buy bone stew, and boil beef in water for her to eat.

  One winter, I was bored watching TV. I was very cold so on a whim, I held Maisie’s paw pad for warmth.

  Maisie’s whole body shook at my cold hand touching her and carefully looked at me. When it found that I didn’t want to let her paw go, she sighed and let me hold her paws. She didn’t even move for a moment all the while I was holding her paws.

  As a result, when I fell asleep, I felt something scratching me. I opened my eyes to look around and saw that Maisie was tapping me with her paws. When I let her paws go, she lifted my foot and changed her positions, rolled over comfortably on its side, and then looked at me, meaning I can can put my foot down now.

  I put my foot down, and she went back to sleep contentedly.

  The phrase that golden retrievers are a devil before one year old and angel after one year is really true.

  ****

  At the beginning of 2012, the weather was cold. Late at night I sat on the steps of the garden with empty beer bottles all around me and looking at the moon in daze.

  In a place that no one knew, at a time when no one could hear, I cried my eyes out.

  Maisie sat quietly next to me, her head pressed against my knee. She gently rubbed her head over my hand, her big eyes looking up at me, making little “cooing” noises from time to time.

  A long time ago before that, I once found in the Internet that this “cooing” noise is actually the cry of the golden retrievers.

  Maisie kept crying beside me, my tears fell more with her cries.

  Maisie don’t cry.

  Don’t cry. She’s not coming back. But I won’t leave you.

 **** 


Once, Maisie had a serious illness.

  I was far away from home in Beijing when she got sick. I suddenly got a call from the girl who was taking care of Maisie, she said with a sobbing voice that Maisie was ill.

  The cell phone’s signal was poor, because it was raining heavily at that time. But I still rushed outside to go to my Maisie.

  I put the phone down and couldn’t help but pray, rain, please stop falling. Let me go to my puppy.

  After she got well, I led her home. One man and one dog was walking home while jumping in joy.

  Suddenly, a white SUV drove past.

  Maisie instantly froze.

  Then she turned around, ripped herself off from the rope, and ran wildly after the car. She didn’t turn back no matter how much I shouted.

  The driver saw it in the rearview mirror and stopped car at the side of the road. The he rolled down the window, poked his head out and asked with a smile, “Hey there puppy, why are you chasing me?”

  Maisie didn’t look at him, just stared intently at the car. Her gaze was stuck at the door of the car, as if waiting for it to open so that she could jump in.

  I caught up to her and hugged her while saying to the driver, “Excuse me. She was just curious.”

  The driver smiled and said it was fine before driving away.

  As he drove away, Maisie struggled wildly in my arms.

  I suddenly fell down on the side of the street with tears in my eyes.

  Maisie also calmed down and started making that “coo coo” sound. I knew why she had been chasing that car, after all the white car looked so similar to the one in her memory, where she used to jump in when I went on a drive with her.

  She hadn’t sat in the seat where it was familiar with for a long time.

  She likes to take a ride in the car. When I would drive, she would poke her head out, blowing the wind on her golden hair and her ears as she stuck her tongue out in joy.

  I carried Maisie home.

  She cried in my arms all the way to the home. My tears also kept falling, as if accompanying her painful cries.


  Maisie don’t cry.

  Maisie, it’s okay that we don’t have a car. Papa will buy you another one. Then we will ride on it together.

  ****

I could still remember the day when Maisie first came to my life.

  It was early June of 2010 when Maisie arrived at my house.

  When I brought her home, Maisie was just a puppy with a round head and big ears, when she sat with her head tilted, her ears almost fell to the ground.

  The first few days, she was pretty rebellious. She would pick up my socks, tear my clothes, chew books that I kept in my study and gnaw at the coffee table. She was like a storm, destroying everything in sight.

  The most incomprehensible thing to me was that when I call her name. She would run wildly along the wall, run around the house round and round and didn’t sit still until she was exhausted.

  The trouble was, she didn’t take long time to replenish her energy.

  When she became a little older, probably one year old or so, she became a dragon and turned my home a big battlefield, naturally, her enemy was my everyday useable things. In order to save my everyday necessities, I changed the first floor of my house into a playground for her.

  One day, I came home and suddenly found that Maisie had disappeared. She wasn’t at home, neither in the yard!

  I looked for her all day and found that the innermost side of the yard hade a dog hole. She probably left the house with this hole.

  I was desperately looking for her. I searched the whole neighborhood, the park and also in the road where I used to take her on a walk. My voice turned hoarse for shouting her name all day.

Night fell, but still there was no sign of her.  

  I went home and sat on the sofa in a depressed state and lost in thought. I had a feeling that she maybe was hiding in a corner of the house. She was always around me, when I would write, she would play under my desk, when I sleep, she would gnaw on the kennel or drag it towards the bedside. And when I eat she would always cling to my leg. I almost she’d tears while reminiscing in the memories and thinking that I may never see her again.


  At one o’clock of the night, I heard a knock on the balcony. I went over and pulled open the glass door, and saw Maisie standing there with a big grin on her face and wagging her tail frantically! Her whole body was covered in mud, who knew where she went to fool around. I didn’t think where she could go and rushed outside to pick her up while shedding tears of joy. I took her to the bathroom and rinsed off all the mud from her body before giving her all the delicious foods she likes. After that, I sat by her side and watched as she gobbled them up.

  I thought that she wouldn’t go anywhere after that day. But she may have thought that she got reward for disappearing a whole day.

  So the next afternoon, she was gone again.

  This time I didn’t look for her, I just calmly watched TV and waited for her. By 1:00 pm, she appeared right outside the glass door of the balcony and knocked again.

  Holy shit! This time without any hesitation, I beat her up!

  Maisie bawled her eyes out but I was merciless.

  From then on, whether I blocked the dog hole or not, she never went through there.

  ****

  The sign that Maisie had grown up was that from that day onwards, she would die rather than pee or poop in the house. She would rather prefer to hold it in until she cried out in pain.

  Once, I went out for an important work, I thought I would be home soon, but the work was dragged and so I had to return home at dusk.

  I pulled out the keys and was about to open the door when the neighbor pushed open the door of their house and exclaimed.

  ”Zhang Jiajia ah, your dog is very clever!”

  I couldn’t figure it out what happened so asked, “What’s wrong?”

  The older woman excitedly said, “When you weren’t home, Maisie was sunbathing in the yard. I watched her turn around in the yard for a place to poop and thought about how to help her. After a while, I saw her leaping over the fence, ran into my yard, and took a poop! Then she leapt again, rolled and crawled back over the fence, and went back to your own yard!”

  I was dumbfounded …… Before going to bed, Maisie would always run to the bedroom, knock on the door, and lie down on the edge of the bed. Only when I would fall asleep would she leave and walk reassuringly back to sleep in her litter.

  ****

  Maisie, Papa said he would buy you a pickup truck and drove away on a farthest place with you.

  You will sit on the passenger seat, your dog head poking out the window, wind snapping your ears and tongue, while you will be jumping in joy.

  The carriage will be filled with goodies that you like to eat.

  We’ll drive down all the scenic roads, go to your favourite places while leaving all those shadows of the past behid. We will watch the calm lake, snow topped mountains, fragrant flower fields and the sun setting over the horizon

We will go to a faraway place, where mountains and roads will be our home.

  When I first brought you, I thought you were just a poor puppy and couldn’t leave me. Turns out, it’s I who can’t leave you.

  

  Maisie was born on May 18, 2010.

  So, Maisie, my daughter, happy birthday.

  Papa loves you.








T/N: This chapter….left me surprised. When I translated the previous chapters, there was a line like “I had a daughter and I love her a lot”. I’m not sure about the line but when I read it, I thought the author really had a daughter. Only after translating this chapter did I realized that it’s actually a dog. It’s not that I’m looking down on dogs or something, I’m just surprised. And also the way he described the dog, Maisie’s interaction with him, she seemed no way less clever than a human.

Anyway, this chapter was very hard to translate so it was delayed. Please leave a good review on NU if you like my work.


Happy reading ❤️❤️


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