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Excerpt: 'A Dog's Life'

Night

The fire is crackling and my paws are warm. My tail, too, and my nose, my ears. I'm lying near the hearth on a plaid bed, which Susan bought for me. Lying in the warmth remembering other nights—nights in the woods under a blanket of stars, nights spent with Moon, nights in the shed when I was a puppy. And the many, many nights spent searching for Bone. The fire pops and I rise slowly, turn around twice, then a third time, and settle onto the bed again, Susan smiling fondly at me from her armchair.

Warmth is important to an old dog. At least it is to me. I can't speak for all dogs, of course, since not all dogs are alike. And most certainly, not all dogs have the same experiences. I've known of dogs who dined on fine foods and led pampered lives, sleeping on soft beds and being served hamburger and chicken and even steak. I've known of dogs who looked longingly at warm homes, who were not invited inside, who stayed in a garage or a shed or under a wheelbarrow for a few days, then moved on. I've known of dogs who were treated cruelly by human hands and dogs who were treated with the gentlest touch, dogs who starved and dogs who grew fat from too many treats.

I've known all these dogs, and I've been all these dogs.

Excerpted from A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin. Copyright (c) 2005 by Ann M. Martin. Reprinted with permission from Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Press.

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Ann M. Martin