Have I been good?

I had a week off recently which was filled with tasty food, reading, games, and general relaxation. One of the activities I carried out was playing ‘Have I Been Good? ’ a live action roleplaying game (LARP) you play with your dog. I am not one who had ever really taken to LARP, but I was intrigued enough by the idea that I gave it a read and found it to basically be a writing exercise. The game came as part of the itch Black Lives Matter bundle and is designed by user jeeyonshim.

During the course of a day and the following morning you cast a spell that allows you to better communicate with your dog, making notes on their behaviours and writing letters. Two of these letters are from you to your dog, and one is from your dog to you. The letter from your dog to you is written at the apex of the spell as you let their thoughts flow through you. What follows is the 3 letters I was tasked with writing during the spell. These were written to my dog Gypsy an 11ish year old lurcher we adopted 7 years ago. I really enjoyed the experience and would recommend you pick it up if you would like a new way to communicate with your dog.

Headshot of Gypsy
Meet Gypsy everyone.

To Gypsy

It was a sunny day when you chose me. We had lost our greyhound Whisper a couple of months before and we came to see you in Lauder. You bonded with us straight away, especially me. We came to get you a few days later, the new fur baby.

The flat was a bit noisy for you, so we moved to Dalkeith and got your sister Maddie. You haven’t always gotten along, but now you are pretty inseparable. You check in on here when she is unwell or been to the vets. You love exploring the countryside together.

We’ve had loads of adventures together and you love taking me for walks, playing with your ball and pentapus (it’s an Octopus with 5 arms, what else would I call it?). You love to bork at invisible murderers which drives me a bit mad sometimes, especially when I am trying to write. I know you are doing it to protect us, but I wish you could tone it down a bit.

As you’ve become older, you don’t like long walks as much and you are less agile. You still greet your friends, let’s face it they come to see you more than me, like an idiot puppy. You don’t like it when I go to work, but are always happy to see me when I get home. Snuggling you after work is always a stress reliever (saying that you are barking as I write this).

You are a pest, a gooseberry, but your love for me and you mama is obvious. You want to protect us and look after us. You are a good dog.

Gypsy in her favourite spot doing a snooze

Dear Dada, have I been good?

When I was just a puppy I did not know if I was good. I saw many homes and my families did not seem to like me. I too remember the sunny day when you and mama came to see me.

We had a walk and I leaned against you both and you cuddled me. I felt safe. When you went away I was afraid you wouldn’t come back so I fixed you with my prettiest face. It worked! You came to get me and bring me home.

I loved my new home. It had lots of soft things for me to chew and play with. Mama and you taught me new tricks, how to behave better, and I made lots of new friends. I loved them and they loved me. We travelled to meet your parents and my Uncle Spot. I loved them all and it was reflected back to me. I felt safe.

We visited mama’s parents as well, and they didn’t have a doggy of their own. They treated me like one of the family. Uncle Davey visits often and I get very excited when he comes to see me and Maddie. We do snugs on the sofa and he plays with me.

I’ve never had a sister before! Maddie is bigger than me and I wasn’t sure about her at first. I liked playing with her on our first walk together and then she came to live with me when we moved to the house with the garden. I like patrolling my garden, sniffing all the flowers and borking to make sure my family is safe just as they make me feel safe.

I try to help where I can. I help with cleaning, exercise, and of course defending the house from invisible murderers. I think I help most when you and mama are sad. I don’t understand why we don’t see mama’s parents anymore, but she was very sad sometime ago and I think I helped comfort her. Humans are weird sometimes.

I’m older now. I’ve been to so many new and wonderful places. I love going on walks with you and mama. When we get home we always have marvellous treats and then I can curl up in one of the many soft places and have a snooze. When I cuddle on the sofa I love you stroking my tummy or doing behind my ears, you call them nurdles. I have toys, food, warmth, and love.

I am older. I’m not as fast as I used to be and I like to sleep more. I know I will not be here for the rest of your life, and that is only right. Mama and you love doggies so much that it would be selfish of me not to wish you long lives. The chance to look after other dogs like my sister Whisper, who I never met. You will not forget me I know. You will feel sad when it is my time. Your love will never leave me.

I love you both.

You are good.

Gypsy snuggling up to her sister Maddie

To Gypsy/Pickle/Borkatron ultra

The spell is complete, our day at an end. Magic does not stop there. Like energy it cannot be destroyed. It stays with us. Stories are like this, they are magical. They transport us, comfort us, bring us joy and sadness. Stories are real.

The story of your life is changing all the time. This spell, this story, has allowed me to connect to you in a different way. I can hear your voice in my head. I will always hear it, even when you are no longer here. You will protect me, teach me to be kinder and make me better as long as you are.

Dogs are magical beings. Loving to a fault, instinctively comforting, without judgement. Those are qualities I will strive for more. I will let you teach me. I will carry you with me wherever I go.

You are loved, and you are good.

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Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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