So, I wrote a character sheet for Valerio's fic introducing Elsa and Amar to the special forces team for Project Prometheus. Elsa's past involves a German Shepherd named Heinz, and I wrote an outline of his back story in preparation for writing Elsa's. This made me interested in his story, so I began writing it. I'm a fair ways through it now, so I'm going to start sharing it here.
This means I have achieved Fic-ception!
It seems my entire life had been laid out for me at birth – February 20, 1989 in Viernheim, Germany as the son of two pedigree German Shepherds: Frei, a dog of note in the Federal Border Guard, loyal and strong, and Fina, a great show dog and shining example of her breed, coming even in 5th at the German Championships in 1986. Beyond their deeds, they were passionate and driven individuals. They always strived to be all that they could be, to leave no regrets. Even tempered, but strong-willed, they were the perfect choice, it seemed, to bring a special pup into the world. The male heir of parents such as these clearly was destined for a life of greatness. Everyone who saw me in those first few days looked on with eager smiles, waiting to see what I would become; and yet, despite the high hopes of those kennel breeders for whom I was sired, fate had conspired to give them me.
I was born Heinz, a name strong and simple, playfully referring to my red-hued fur. Though I was never told how the name was decided upon or who chose it; I have always been rather certain that it, like every other decision about me, was researched, scrutinized, and thoroughly deliberated on. It reflected well the vision of my handlers, and I could see that vision from the earliest of ages that I can remember. It was a reflection of my parents. It spoke of my father’s great character and my mother’s joyous spirit. Impressed upon me from birth was the knowledge that I was to grow to fill this name and make it my own.
Immediately I was moved into obedience school to begin my journey to fulfilling my destiny. Though I had never met my parents, I was told so much about them I could have written their biography for the annals of history.
My father, Frei, once saved the life of his human partner. What seemed like the routine disarming of a bomb somehow went awry. As the bomb readied itself, it let out a soft, high-pitched tone that gave my father just enough warning. With great courage and astounding alacrity, he snatched the jacket of his partner and dragged him just clear of the kill zone as the explosion rang out. They both were hospitalized for a week and the man lost a leg, but it was much better than the alternative. My father carries the shrapnel and a medal for his service.
My mother, Fina, was vastly intelligent even at a young age. She began reading well before her peers. The instructors were always impressed with her ability to carry out all instructions when most others were so distracted they ended up chasing their tails halfway through. Her dedication to achieving every goal set before her was second to none. They even started on training with the agility course well before the usual age. Though my mother’s athleticism never made competition levels, her determination to advance and improve at such a young age spoke volumes.
At the age of two I knew more about my parents than I did myself. They were to be my inspiration, my guiding light. Their blood was mine. I was to proudly bear their name through my life and pass it lovingly on to my progeny. My children would hold my name in awe as I did for the names of my parents. All these things I was told from the earliest day of my life.
Still, I am me: Heinz. The glory of my parents must have blinded me, and their blood must have overwhelmed me. For even from those earliest of days I can remember one thing very clearly: the looming shadow of doubt. I have no recollection of a time without it, settled deep like a stone in my gut. It was like a cloud in my mind rumbling lowly in the background, whispering quietly. My determination was born not of a desire to succeed but of a fear to fail.
I remember that fear. Every move I made, I felt the scrutiny of the people, always present, always watchful. Every step I took, I felt their judgment. Over and over again I weighed my every decision carefully, meticulously, painstakingly. Somehow, it was never enough. Again and again I scoured the pages of my memories for clues on what to do and what not to do. I was always determined to find the correct course of action in every circumstance.
It was never so simple.
With every new situation come new variables and new paths and new opportunities. I never saw them as opportunities to succeed: always I saw failure. Always I failed.
Honestly, thinking back on those days is almost like watching a cliché movie where you just want to shout the painfully simple solution to the main character and see him magically get over his problems. Pups, however, are still trying to figure things out, and I just got myself locked down too tightly to see my problems from the outside. It’s almost tragically comical in a way.
To be honest it wasn’t entirely one big failure of a life. At the time I only remembered the failures which were the source of that vicious cycle keeping me down. Though there were successes, they felt minor and insignificant in the face of my inadequacies.
It all started with books. In hindsight it’s patently obvious that leaving out books for a couple-month-old pup was designed to stimulate an early interest – clearly in memory of my mother. Within a few weeks it became clear to me that these were important items, and that I was supposed to do something with
them. Figuring out what
became the real issue.
What was so magical about them? I could not have told you. What was the elusive “thing” necessary to properly use them? I spent long periods of time pondering this. Opening the books always brought praise, especially when I looked at the little pictures and squiggle marks and turned the pages every so often. Even still, something was missing. I could sense it. Some unconscious body language or facial expressions must have tipped me off. It brought the feeling of disappointment, of failure and judgment, which never left from then on.
Eventually I was taught to read along with everyone else in my peer group, but the failure had already begun. Already its seed had been planted in me. Already it had taken root. Though I was indeed reading with everyone else I wasn’t sure if it was good enough. I was aware that reading was the solution to the great mystery by that point, but I could no longer go back to the past to perform it, despite my prayers for such a chance to please my trainers. However earnestly I asked and pleaded, the past remained past.
A mistake, once made, cannot be undone. Having learned this, I resolved to make no more mistakes. Great is the naïveté of a pup. Such was my desire. Such would be my failure.