Today is the day I have waited for for 12 years. This is the release day for A Dog of War. This book has been my heart and soul for so long, it is almost surreal that I am holding it in my hands. I’m posting the first chapter for you and I hope you’ll want to read the rest.

My Own

1934 Poland

Finally, she was able to have some milk and a little space to herself. It was almost impossible for a puppy to have a quiet meal with her brothers and sisters climbing all over her. She loved them and there was nothing better than all of them sleeping together in a big pile when they were done eating. It was just that sometimes she wished things were different. She was missing something and she finally realized what it was; she needed her own person.

Her Momma had her own lady, Chava, and they loved each other very much. Chava was so kind to Momma. She fed her, brushed her, and bathed her. She even helped Momma care for the puppies. Momma worshiped Chava. Momma loved her just as much as she loved them. It would soon be time for the puppies to leave, but Momma would stay with Chava. She’d never leave her person. The puppy wanted someone she could love and adore like that.

A shadow fell over the box blotting out the sun. A bearded man looked down at her. Next a woman, her hair pulled tightly back, looked them over.

“Hmm, look at all those strange faces. I wonder if I’ll find my person today.” The puppy blinked up at the faces peering at her.

The man smiled as her brothers and sisters clambered over each other to reach the strangers. They yipped, hoping to catch the new people’s attention.

“Aren’t you just the most darling little…” strange hands reached for her.

“No, don’t touch me. I don’t want you to be my person. Don’t you touch me either; you’re not the right one. That’s it; take my brother and you take my sister. They’re perfect for you, but none of you are perfect for me.” She shuffled back to the furthest corner of the box.   While these new people looked friendly and smelled like good people, nothing about them called to her heart.


So many people had stopped by the box that day but none had been the right one. She didn’t think she would ever find her person. She would never be happy. Gloom and despair settled heavily in her heart. She sat in her corner and cried, a high-pitched, pitiful, pained whine.

“I want my perfect person.”

“Why are you crying? Come on up here.” A boy reached into the box to pick her up.

“Oh, hello. You have the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen, and your voice warms me from the inside. You smell perfect, like love, goodness, and sweet bread. Keep holding me. I could spend forever being held by you.

“I think I love you. No, I know I love you. Yes, I do. Will you be my person? I don’t think I could live another day if you weren’t my boy.” She barked excitedly.

“You have the cutest little bark. I’m going to take you. What do you think? Do you want to come home with me and be my dog?” The boy held her up so they could look into each other’s eyes. His were dancing, filled with happiness, lifting the despair from her heart.

“Yes, I want to be with you forever.”

“Look at that tail wag. I’ve got to think up a name for you. You need a name that is as pretty as you. Hmm, I know. Tierza. You look like a Tierza. Come on, Sweet Girl. Let’s go home.” He pulled her close, tucking her against him.

“I’ve never felt as safe as I do wrapped in your arms, nestled against your chest. I can feel your heartbeat, just like I used to feel Momma’s. Don’t tell her, but I like your heartbeat better. Yes, I do.

“Goodbye, Momma, I’m going home with my boy. I have a boy of my own.”

“Our cart is over here. This is Big Horse. He pulls the cart and the plow when it’s time to work the fields. He’s a good boy.” He patted the horse’s nose, placing a small kiss on it.

“I hope my boy will pat and kiss me like that.”

“Big Horse was born on our farm six years ago. He’s a draft horse. I like his hooves; they’re huge. See?” The boy tilted her down towards the ground.

“Wow, those are huge. I hope he doesn’t step on me.” A tremor of fear rippled through the puppy.

The boy continued stroking Big Horse’s nose. The horse made strange wuffling sounds as he pressed his nose into the boy’s hand.

“Big Horse must be very happy being my boy’s horse.”

“His mama was a nice old girl. She used to be our plow horse. She died two years ago. I miss her.” He sighed, giving Big Horse one last pat then stepping back. “Tierza, Big Horse. Big Horse, Tierza,” the boy said, holding the two nose to nose.

Alarmed at being too close, she cringed deeper into the boy’s cupped hands. “Why are you holding me so close to this thing? Big Horse is awfully big, my boy. I don’t… he won’t hurt me, will he? He’s still making those strange wuffling sounds. His warm breath is blowing over me. Well, if you like him, I’ll try to like him. He does have very soft gentle eyes and the more he makes those strange sounds, the more I like them.

“You’re very pretty, Big Horse. Your name fits you perfectly. I bet my boy picked your name. He picked mine. We’re going to be such good friends. I can just tell.” Tierza’s tail wagged.

Giving a quick glance and seeing no one around, the boy slipped his hand into his pocket then handed something to Big Horse. “Shh, sugar cubes – don’t tell anyone I give them to him,” he whispered to Tierza. “Up we go.” He climbed on the cart seat with one hand, holding Tierza tight with the other. With his puppy settled on his lap, the boy idly scratched her ears.

“You can see so much more from the cart. Oh, this is going to be fun. This is the greatest day of my life. I like how you scratch behind my ears. You could do that forever and I’d be so happy.”

“I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted a dog of my own. Since it’s my birthday, my parents said I could get one. Now I have you. I’m Aaron and that’s my father.” The boy pointed to the large man sitting next to him.

“Aaron! What a perfect name for my boy. His father seems like a nice man, too.”

“So, you’re the family dog? Little bit of thing, aren’t you. Still, if you can keep the hares out of the garden and Aaron out of trouble, you’ll be fine.” Father smiled as he reached his huge hand out. Tierza stiffened, waiting to feel if Father’s hands would be rough or heavy.

“Tickling! You’re tickling my belly, Father. Stop. Hee hee hee. No fair. Aaron, you’re holding me so I can’t wiggle away. Father, that tickles.” Finally, he stopped. She could hardly catch her breath. Tongue lolling to the side, Tierza happily wagged her tail. “Your hands are strong, Father. I was a bit worried for a moment there, I was, but your hands are as gentle as my Aaron’s. Oh, now you’re giving me a soft pat on the head. What a perfect way to end a ticklefest. Thank you, Father. I like you.”

“We’re going to be best friends, Tierza, and we’ll be together forever.” Aaron gave her ears a playful squeeze.

With a snap of the reins, Father urged Big Horse into a trot.

“I can look all around. I’m going to sit on your lap… or stand… standing is better. I see another horse. Aaron, there is a horse over there! There is something else… I don’t know what they are, but they are different animals than Big Horse. There are so many birds are flying by. I know what birds are!”

An old beat-up truck backfired, spewing black smoke as it barreled past them. Terrified, Tierza cowered against her boy, whining. “What’s that, Aaron? It’s loud and so fast. There’s no horse pulling that thing. I don’t like it. It’s too fast and gives off a bad smell.”

“Don’t cry, Tierza. Did that truck scare you? Don’t worry. I won’t let it near you. I’ve got you. What a stupid truck, scaring my sweet little girl.” He pulled her closer to him, rubbing his chin on her head. Her fear melted away.

Big Horse turned into a wide area then stopped. There was a small building in front, another long building further to the back. Large tracts of land stretched to the side and behind the buildings. Different animals were eating grass in one of the fenced area.

“We’re home. Here’s our farm. I hope you like it.” Aaron climbed down from the cart, holding Tierza tight and safe.

Father took off the gear Big Horse was wearing then opened the fence to one of the fields. Big Horse trotted out to the field and rolled in the grass. He wuffled and snorted as his huge hooves flailed in the air. Father called to him and clapped his hands. Big Horse returned and pressed his nose into Father’s waiting hands.

“It’s not a big farm but we’re very proud of it.” Her boy’s voice drew Tierza’s attention back to him. “My family has owned this farm for four generations, each son inheriting it from his father. Someday I’ll inherit it, but that won’t happen for a long time.”

Aaron walked to the fence and held Tierza up so she could see her new home.

“There is so much to see and smell here. Everywhere I look, there is something new. Well, everything is new to me. This amazing farm is my new home. It’s the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I’ll grow up here with my boy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. This is the most perfect farm ever.”

“I love this farm. By the way your tail is wagging, I think you love it as much as I do. See the house? My great-great-grandfather built that house with his own hands.” Aaron pointed toward the small building.

“He did! My new house was built by someone in your family. Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier here, you tell me that. It’s the most perfect house ever. Yes, it is.” Tierza’s whole body wiggled in time with her tail.

“Over here are the fields where we plant potatoes. Our cows are in this field over here.” Aaron waved his arm toward the well kept fields.

They stretched as far as Tierza could see. “Everything belongs to us? Look at how big the potato fields are. They have so much growing in them. Father must be a great farmer. Aaron, what’s a potato?”

The big animals Aaron called cows intrigued Tierza. They were wider than Big Horse but not as tall. They were still big though, a lot bigger than she was and they made nice sounds.

“This is the chicken coop. Ever meet a chicken?” A mischievous twinkle shined in his eyes.

“No, I never have. What’s a chicken?”

“Go get them.” He opened the pen door and placed her inside.

Enthusiastically, Tierza ran after the big fat birds. They ran, making funny sounds as she followed close behind, yipping. “I’m going to get you. You can’t run from me. I’m faster, I’m… hey, what are you doing? Don’t chase me! No, stop! Ouch! You’re jabbing me. Stop!” Tail between her legs, she scuttled away.

“Come up here, you.” Aaron snatched her away from the chicken.

“Oh, Aaron, you saved me. That chicken is horrible. Horrible!”

“Did that mean old chicken peck at you, Little Girl? We’ll just have to wait until you’re bigger, then you can chase them.” He nuzzled her head with his chin, humming against her.

“Yes, it did. It was awful. I’m just going to snuggle under your chin and forget the whole thing. I could stay snuggled up with you forever and ever. Yes, I could.” A deep contented sigh escaped her.

“Well, have you learned your lesson about chasing chickens?” Aaron’s father asked, reaching out to scratch the puppy again. Knowing those large hands could never be anything but gentle, she happily leaned into his touch. His fingers grazed lightly over her ears.

“Yes, Father. Thank you.”

“So, you’re the new bundle of trouble?” A woman ap-proached them.

“I am?” Tierza’s ears perked up as she titled her head.

“Tierza, this is Mother.” Aaron turned the puppy to face her.

She looked like Aaron and wasn’t much taller than him. Her eyes were filled with laughter and happiness, as Aaron’s were. “Oh, you are a cute thing. You’re going to be full of mischief and with that sweet face, I think you’ll get away with most of it.”

Aaron’s mother reached for the little bundle. He didn’t hesitate to hand the puppy over.

“I always wanted a dog when I was Aaron’s age. My parents didn’t like dogs. Can you imagine anyone not liking dogs?” Mother rubbed her back, kissing the puppy.

“No, I can’t imagine anyone not liking dogs. You have very soft hands, Mother. You’re a wonderful woman, so gentle and kind. How lucky Aaron is to have you both for parents.” Tierza’s tail wagged as her eyes drooped.

“Aaron’s been talking about a dog for the longest time. When I heard that Chava’s dog had puppies, we knew we had to get one. You are the perfect birthday present. By the looks of you, we got the best of the bunch. I have waited so long for you, but you are worth the wait. Welcome home…” Mother turned to Aaron.

“Tierza. Her name is Tierza.” There was such pride in his voice as he said her name.

“Tierza.” She handed the pup to Aaron. “Dinner will be in a little while. You two stay out of trouble.” Mother turned toward the house. Father walked up behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist. She leaned into him. He said something and she laughed.

There were so many wonderful sights, sounds, so many amazing new scents for her to learn. Wait! She knew that scent. It was food. Mother must be cooking something and it smelled delicious. Tierza hoped she’d get to eat some of it. Along with her sibling, she had been eating food as well as Momma’s milk before her boy chose her. Chava was a good cook, but nothing she made ever smelled this good.

“I know I am the luckiest dog ever. Yes, I am.”

“My Tierza. My sweet little girl.” Aaron sighed happily, rubbing his cheek on her head. He snuggled Tierza close to his chest again, and gave her kisses.

“That’s it, my beloved Aaron. Rest your head on mine.”

“We’re going to be best friends forever.”

“Yes, we are. You are my boy, my perfect, beautiful, beloved boy. Yes, you are.”