The limo was just about to enter Chicago.
That was when the old Saint Bernard, Ike, opened his eyes.
And took noticed of Charo for the first time.
"Well, what a surprise! I wake up and find a nice little stranger sitting in front of me."
"Ike, this is Charo. He's coming with us to Chicago."
"Is that so? Glad to meet you, Charo. So, have you ever been to Chicago before?"
"No. This is the first time."
"Why do you want to go there?"
"えっと... At the airport ... there was ... あの ... I met a bird ... and ..."
"Don't worry. You don't have to say a word."
"Everyone has their own worries. I would hate to know them and not be able to help. Then, I might as well not know anything so that I can enjoy the time with you."
Ike winked and smiled softly.
"You know, the place we are heading to ... they have a very strange rule. The dogs and cats live by ranks, according to how wealthy their owners are.
"I ... don't understand."
"The richer the owner is, the higher rank you are. You'll go there and you'll understand. There will always be a top dog, and a top cat. Very peculiar."
Just then, Aunt Charlotte cut in joyfully.
"All right, my dears. We're almost there. Look, my brother's place. Gregory will just love to see you all."
"For example, Mr. Gregory Spencer owns a big business. And from generation to generation, the family dogs have always been at the top. At the moment, it's Joseph. We call him Sir Joseph. I've known his family since his grandfather's generation."
The limo passed the gate and entered the woods.
It was hard to imagine that all of this belonged to one single person.
Charo was so surprised.
"This is Chris's uncle's?"
"Yes, and where Chris's father was born."
"Your owner family is rich."
Just then, the limo made a stop.
The big and heavy doors of the mansion opened, and two servants came out as if to guard each side.
An old man with an eyeglass appeared.
"Is that Uncle Gregory?"
"No you silly. That's a butler. The master of the house is usually the very last person to show up."
At that moment, a big white beautiful shepherd appeared in the doorway.
He was no doubt Sir Joseph.
You could instantly see that from his dignified manners.
"Welcome, Ike. I was waiting for your arrival."
"Sir Joseph. Thank you for greeting us."
"And how was your trip?"
"Very pleasant. Of course, I was sleeping all the way. Oh, let me
introduce my young friends. This is Candy. She is Chris's wonderful companion."
"Yes, I've heard of you. How is Chris doing?"
"He will be having surgery soon."
"You must be worried, then. Please relax and make yourself at home during your stay here. It should be good for you."
"Thank you, Sir Joseph."
Then, Sir Joseph looked at Charo.
All the other dogs had wonderful pedigrees and among them Charo was a bit ... well, different.
"This is Charo, Candy's best friend."
"Glad to meet you, Mr. Charo."
"Glad to meet you Mr... じゃなくて Sir Joseph. Please call me Charo."
"Are you from New York, too?"
"I'm from Japan."
Sir Joseph gave a sharp glance.
Charo was overwhelmed but excited, too.
This was a world that was different from what he had known, a world completely different from New York or Tokyo.
And this time Charo seemed ready for it.