Protector of the Hearth

by NekoLLX
Published: Apr 15th, 2007

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Woman to Dog. Story written by NekoLLX and rewritten by Umgestalten.

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Protector of the Hearth
Writen by NekoLLX
Rewrite by Umgestalten

Based on a photomanip at http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/42279452/

Protector of the Hearth, Part 1

The place was a warm suburban landscape. A place considered the safest and also the most dangerous place in America. While a person may sleep soundly in their bed protected by the police and neighborhood watch they also, at the same time, let their guard down against those that are determined to take what is theirs.

This story began in a house not unlike many others, a house with two children. A seven-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl, and two parents. The mother, also a housewife and a fit and athletic little minx with long blonde hair by the name of Anne. The father and her husband, John, a Production Engineer was at work and not expected home until morning. It was Anne's time. It was one of those rare moments that she had all to herself. The children were asleep in their beds, the house was clean, and all of her other numerous chores were done. The moon outside shone as a thin silvery crescent in the night sky.

Anne felt safe as she stepped out of the shower clad only in a bath towel wrapped tightly around her body that glistened with moisture. The serenity of the moment was soon broken when, as she crossed the living room, the faintest of sounds made her pause and shiver. She stood and listened intently, but nothing, 'Just my imagination,' she thought.

She moved slowly toward the master bedroom located on the other side of the living room when another noise made her jump. It was a metal jingling noise. She paused again and moved toward the noise. As the back kitchen door came into view she drew in a sharp breath. The knob was turning violently from one side to another.

'Burglers!' snapped into her mind. 'Damn it John! I told you we needed an alarm or at least a guard dog. What should I do?'

Anne trembled as she moved cautiously heading for the phone. She was now paranoid of every sound she made. She lifted the receiver. Nothing. She hit the reset a few times but still no dial tone. 'They cut the line,' she thought as a shiver of fear coursed through her. The towel she had wrapped around her slipped from her trembling grip and hit the floor with a light sound leaving her standing naked and exposed in the living room.

There was a snapping sound and the rending of wood as the door creaked open. Anne bolted off to the side and crouched out of direct view.

"Are you sure they don't have a dog?" an unfamiliar voice said.

"Positive," came the answer.

"Yeah, right! You said that about the last 3 houses."

Anne swore silently, 'If only we had a dog to scare them off,' she thought. 'If only we had a…' and her mind froze. 'No the idea is silly,' she thought as her gaze drifted up toward the kid's room then back to the shattered doorframe and the sound of approaching footsteps. She pushed away the fear and gathered up all of her courage. Her mouth was slow to open as her fear-tightened throat squeaked out a small, "Arf!"

The footsteps stopped, "What was that?" she heard a voice ask.

"Sounded like a mouse. Maybe a neighbor's dog."

A low rumble of anger arose from deep in Anne's throat. It gained in volume and lowered to a base range. Anne barked again but this time she put all of her anger and maternal instincts to protect her children behind it, "Rrrrrrroooofff! Rufff! Rrrrrrrrrr, rrrrufff!"

The robbers stepped back audibly, "What the hell was that? You said there was no dog!"

Anne rose up slowly onto her hunches. She moved slowly on her hands and knees and she barked again and continued with a deep resounding growl. In the back of her mind she felt a pricking sensation run over her body but dismissed it as goose flesh or pins and needles. They were uncomfortable but only slightly distracting and she pushed it out of her mind.

She became single minded as she barked again and again. Her lips twisted and pulled back bearing her blunt human teeth threateningly to the menace that was just beyond her sight. Anne was getting so deeply into her part that she never noticed the strands of golden hair that pushed through the skin of her arms and back.

The posturing as a dog was becoming easier and she shifted from her knees to her feet. It felt more natural to stand on all fours as her shoulder blades and pelvis reformed and she found it easier to move and take a more aggressive stance. She never noticed that the length of her legs had become the same as her arms or that she was standing on the balls of her feet and that her fingers had curled under her hands.

Her mind was so concentrated on the threat to her offspring that she neither felt, nor noticed as her face pushed out and began to form a muzzle. She didn't know that her nose had darkened to black and the skin of it roughened but she did noticed the scents of the intruders as they assailed her more sensitive olfactory nerves and instinct told her it was the enemy. Her lips again twisted and pulled back again but now they revealed four lengthening pointed canine teeth, sharp incisors and foamy saliva that was expelled with every guttural growl she made.

Her curled fingers receded into her hands and formed into toe like structures. Her fingernails darkened and curled under from the sides until they were dark curved claws. Her thumb shrank until it became almost nonexistent leaving only a dark curved dewclaw. Her feet and toes were undergoing a similar metamorphosis as her hands and feet formed into four paws making every step and movement easier and easier to make.

As her back arched the end of her spine shifted position, curled upwards, and then extended slowly. As it became longer, the golden hairs that now covered her back, arms and legs moved up the length of her growing tail. At the same time, the other end of her spine also extended giving her a much longer neck.

Emboldened by sensations of strength and a need to protect her territory she bounded out from her concealment. As Anne appeared in the doorway she let loose with a low guttural growl, her now large canines bared as her lips twisted and quivered. Her ears twitched and grew as they pushed through her hair and then flopped to the sides of her head.

Anne's back arched the stiff golden hairs rose along her spine. The muscles in her legs grew taut and her new claws dug into the carpet as she leapt into the kitchen and bounded towards the intruders.

"Shit! It's a monster!"

"Let's get the fuck out of here!" the men shouted as they turned and bolted for the door.

Anne gave chase. She could smell their fear as her fangs were nipping at the pants cuff of one of the pair, tearing the fabric even as they vanished out the door and into the night with Anne in close pursuit. The changes continued as she stood there on all four paws barking into the evening at the retreating burglars.

Once convinced that they were gone, Anne turned around and trotted contentedly toward the house. She had a sensation of accomplishment and victory and she wrapped herself in that feeling as she padded over to the couch in the center of the living room.

Hopping onto it, she turned around three times in a circle before settling into a tight ball on the plush surface with her elongated snout laying on her left hip. She took in a deep breath and let out a low contented "woof" before her dark eyes slowly closed.

As she slept the changes continued to progress over her body, shifting, changing until all that remained on the couch was a large female Golden Retriever.

* * * * *

Protector of the Hearth, Part 2

When John arrived home the kids heard his car pull into the driveway and met him at the door all excited. He had no idea what it was all about but went along with being dragged into the living room by a small hand pulling on each of his hands.

"We were very quiet and didn't wake her up, Daddy," His daughter, Evelyn said in an excited whisper.

"I was quiet too, Daddy," Nathan said quietly but proudly.

Just as they rounded the couch, John saw the large Golden Retriever curled up in a ball sleeping there.

"Daddy, can we please keep her!" Evelyn pleaded.

It was the familiar sound of her daughter's voice that roused Anne from her contented slumber. She opened her eyes and as her vision cleared, she stared in shock down her long muzzle and saw her hind legs, paws, rump and tail. Her body felt strange. She had no idea what had happened to her.

"Look you scared her," Nathan said.

She raised her head and turned toward her husband looking up into his concerned face as he spoke, "You know I don't want a dog in our house," he said sternly.

"But Daddy, Pleeeeease. Can't we please keep her?" Both children said in unison.

John sighed and looked defeated. 'He always was a big softie. That's what makes him such a good mate.' Anne thought. 'Mate? Where did that come from?' she wondered.

'He's more than just that. He's the father of my children,' she continued.

Then an aberrant thought crossed her mind and Anne cocked her head to one side while looking critically at John, 'Still, there may be better mates out there,' Anne quickly shook her head to clear out her adulterous thoughts.

"We'll let her stay for a couple weeks, if no one claims her in that time I'll think about it."

"Yea!" the children cheered.

John moved to a near phone and lifted the receiver, it was still dead. "Strange. The phone is dead. Wonder what's up with that?" he said to no one in particular.

Anne hopped down from couch, her paws landing her softly on the carpet. She stretched her body out with her fore paws way out in front of her, claws curled down drawing on the carpet, her head down and her rump thrust up in the air. She threw back her head and let out a long yawn and whine with her mouth wide open exposing her glistening white canines and long tongue.

Then she stood up, did an all-over shake and padded over to where John was standing. She was beginning to understand what ahd happened to her with each step. But she needed a mirror to confirm her thoughts.

John put down the phone and went into the kitchen. The back door was still wide open and as he looked around critically he saw the shattered door jamb and broken lock. The children and Anne followed behind him silently and watched as John bent down and picked up a scrap of cloth from the floor and then stepped outside. The children and Anne followed.

Anne paused catching her reflection in the glass. Or rather the reflection of a brown eyed golden haired retriever. She barked in surprise again.

Just outside the door, John stopped to pick up a discarded kitchen knife on the porch floor, "This isn't one of ours," He mumbled out loud.

He turned back to Anne, "Did you…" but he was cut off as Anne came over and rubbed up against his leg. John smiled as he ran his hand through her coat and scratched behind her ears, "Good girl!" he said and Anne's tail wagged excitedly.

Then John became serious and told the kids to stay in the house while he looked around outside. Anne followed him as he walked around the house. It wasn't long before he found the cut phone line on the side of the house and knew for sure there had been some big trouble the night before.

John took out his cell phone and dialed 911. A short time later there were several squad cars in his driveway and an unmarked car at the curb. For several hours it was like a scene from a television cop show. John and the kids were questioned, alibis and times were checked, fingerprints and photos were taken but in the end, Anne was still missing and there were no answers.

The detectives said it looked like a burglary and abduction and said they would do all that they could. They said there would be an investigation and they would follow any leads they found but John knew by their tone and body language that they didn't have much hope. Plus he knew that there were no fingerprints in the house or on the knife and the piece of cloth that Anne had torn off was the only hard evidence they had.

John was devastated but knew he had to put up a strong front for the kids sake. He thanked the police as they left him and the kids alone and headed for their cars. He turned to where the kids were standing with devastated faces on either side of Anne and said, "That's all we can do right now. They will find Mommy," he said trying to convince them and himself.

He moved back towards the kitchen and asked, "Are you kids hungry? You need to have some breakfast. How about you girl? Are you hungry? Want something to eat?" John said looking down at Anne.

Anne's stomach rumbled slightly at his words and she nodded her head. John looked at her and thought, 'Huh, it's like she understood what I said and was answering me. Weird.'

He searched around the cupboards and in the fridge and then stood and sighed. He turned to the kids "Ok guys, get washed up. It look's like I need to make something for our little hero and ourselves."

The kids ran off to get cleaned up while Anne sat looking up at her husband as he began to heat some water for oatmeal. He had a look of worry on his face. "Anne where are you?" he said, half under his breath.

John found a container of leftover beef stew in the fridge and got a bowl from the cupboard. After warming it slightly in the microwave he placed it on the floor and called Anne over, "Here girl. Here's some really good stew for you. Don't get used to it though. After I go shopping it's strictly dog food for you."

Anne moved quickly to the bowl and sniffed at it. 'That smells really good. I'm half starved," she was thinking as she tentatively stuck out her tongue and licked at the stew in the bowl. She tried several different approaches to the task of eating the stew from a bowl without a spoon or fork and soon found that the best way was to just open her mouth and grab some of it and then chew and swallow. She found that a lot of chewing wasn't all that necessary. It seemed that a few quick chomps of her new molars was enough to mash it down for swallowing. She also noticed that her dog throat could handle a lot larger pieces than she was used to.

In a matter of moments, Anne had licked the bowl clean and was licking the last of the stew from her muzzle. It came to her as a completely instinctual movement and she was amused that she could now lick the end of her nose and down under her chin. 'This is so weird but at the same time it feels so completely normal,' she thought. When she finished she looked up at John and wagged her tail. She felt the need to thank him so she gave out with a, "Woof, ruff, woof," and licked the back of his hand.

That afternoon, John called his boss to explain what was going on and ask for some time off. His boos told him he had just seen it on the news and to not worry about work. "I was going to call you," he said. "You have over a month of vacation time built up so take it. We'll survive and I know where to find you if I have any questions. You take care of things at home and let us know if we can help," his boss told him.

John thanked him and closed his cell phone. His next call was to a security company to have an alarm system installed as soon as possible. Then it was a quick trip to the grocery store for food that he could prepare and dog food for Anne. When they arrived home, he opened the door and called out, "Lucy, I'm home," and Anne came running to the door to greet them.

"Her name's not Lucy, it's Happy," Evelyn said.

"Is not," Nathan countered. "It's Woof!"

"No it's not. That's a stupid name. Her name is Happy!" Evelyn stated matter-of-factly.

"Ok, that's enough, kids. She came when I called Lucy so that's what her name will be. That's the end of the argument!" John stated parentally.

At dinner that first night, they had microwave TV dinners. John bought a lot of TV dinners when they went shopping. He wasn't helpless in the kitchen but was very close to it. At first, he tried to eat his dinner in the living room so he could watch TV but Anne was having none of that. She sat in the doorway blocking him and shook her head.

John just looked at her, retreated back into the kitchen and sat at the table with the kids. 'Having Lucy around is almost like Anne being here,' he thought as he remembered Anne's rules.

Over the next two weeks things settled into a sort of routine. Friends and neighbors did their best to help John out with the things that Anne usually took care of like his neighbor, Rose that made dinners for them so they could give the microwave a break.

John was thanking Rose for the 5th time as his cute red-haired neighbor handed him another casserole to feed the kids and him. The newly christened Lucy watched from the other side of the kitchen. It had been two weeks and she still hadn't shown any signs of changing back to Anne. 'Honestly John, I've never met a man so helpless in the kitchen,' Lucy was thinking as she watched him accept the most recent donation from Rose.

John was expressing his appreciation to Rose for her generosity when she said, "Any word on…" asked Rose, changing the subject.

"No, no sign of her at all. The police have called several times but never had a thing to report other than they may have a lead on who broke in but it hasn't gone anywhere yet. It's been two weeks and nothing at all. No sign of her," John sighed.

"Well thanks again," he said to her.

Rose hugged John before she turned and went out the door. John turned and saw Anne sitting by the kitchen door. Setting the covered Casserole dish down, he opened a cupboard door and pulled out a small bag as he called out for the kids to come into the kitchen. The kids came in from the next room and came up to John and Anne. John reached into the bag and pulled out a red collar. Dangling from it was a tag that jingled as he moved. It was a bone shaped gold colored tag with "Lucy" and their phone number engraved on it.

"Welcome to the family Lucy," John said smiling as he fastened the colar around Anne's neck. "Good girl."

After that, life for John, the kids and Lucy started to settle into a sort of routine. John made an appointment at the veterinarian's for a checkup and to get all of her shots. Lucy was not amused but figured that it was only to be expected given her current situation.

Bowls were purchased with "Lucy" printed on them and a place was set aside in the kitchen for her to eat. John bought a large dog bed mattress for her to sleep on and it was placed at the foot of his bed. It started out in the kitchen but she dragged it into the master bedroom every night until John just gave up.

* * * * *

Protector of the Hearth Part 3

Anne, who was now called Lucy, was keeping a crisp pace ahead of and to the left of John as they walked down the sidewalk for their after dinner walk. There was just enough tension to give the lead a firm line. Lucy had come to really enjoy their nightly walks around the neighborhood. She had no idea why but at some level, it was fun and oh so much more interesting to go for a walk now than it had been as Anne. There were smells in the air that she never noticed before. She could tell what everyone was having for dinner and she knew which houses had dogs and which had cats. Most of the time she could even tell if a neighbor was home or not just by the smell in the air.

Lucy glanced back over her shoulder at John and thought, 'He really is a wonderful man. I love these walks alone with him. I'm so lucky to have him for a master. Ahh, I mean owner. No, he's my husband… isn't he? Yes. He's my husband. But I'm a dog now. Can he still be my husband? Maybe he is my master now. No, he is my husband and I have to find out how to change back no matter how much I enjoy my life as it is now.'

Lucy settled back into a brisk walking pace and her mind was pulled back to the odors wafting through the evening air. She had just stopped and was squatting by the curb to relive herself when suddenly all thoughts of her status in life and situation were forgotten. She had detected a new scent and it was strong and had a strange effect on her. She looked around for the source but at first saw nothing. Then, just up ahead she spotted a beautiful Golden Retriever just rounding the corner on the other side of the street followed by his owner. Her instincts told her it was a male and she needed to go meet the newcomer to the neighborhood.

Her tail began to wag wildly and John was surprised at the normally docile canine's sudden firm tug on the lead. The combination of the suddenness and the hard pull on the lead caused it to slip from John's grip and Lucy bounded across the street. The other dog's owner was startled as Anne came running up to his dog and began to check him out.

The male dog immediately did the same to Lucy. They both met nose to nose first and established a level of compatibility and then he turned to sniff under Lucy's tail. She obligingly held it straight up stiff as a flagpole for him. At the same time she checked both his rear and underneath. She noticed that his penis was beginning to poke its way out of its furry sheath and felt a compulsion to give it a lick. She had just gotten started when John caught up to her, reclaimed the leash and gave it a firm tug. Lucy was not happy about being so forcefully pulled away but dropped her head and slouched as she sat next to John.

"Sorry, she's normally so well behaved, it caught me off guard!" John apologized.

"No harm done, your dog and Ben seem to be getting along just fine," The other man responded.

As John and the man introduced themselves and started a conversation of small talk, Lucy and Ben started their own interaction, "Your master must take good care of you, your in great shape," Ben barked, whined and low growled happily.

"Thanks!" Lucy responded. "But he's not my master, he's my husband, er… mate."

"Your mate is a human? How strange."

"Well, I was human…once," Lucy answered.

"We'll you're not anymore," Ben replied with obvious double meaning.

"Yeah, I know."

"You need a real mate, like me. One of your own kind. Don't you want to have a litter?"

Lucy let out a low growl, "I have a litter, I mean children, a boy and a girl."

"Humans?" Ben questioned incredulously.

"Yes, of course. What else?"

Just then, John pulled on Lucy's lead and broke up their conversation. "We're heading back home now girl. Come on Lucy," he said.

Ben looked back over his shoulder at Lucy and said, "When your time comes and you want a real litter, come find me. I'm just around the corner and up the block. You'll know my territory by my scent." Then he barked a final goodbye to the really fine looking bitch and her master as they walked off in the opposite direction.

Lucy barked an enthusiastic response, "I will!" before catching her own words and correcting herself, "I mean…I'm, I'm married!"

Lucy's mind was in a bit of a turmoil as they walked the several blocks home. 'What's happening to me? Every day that goes by I'm enjoying being a dog more and more and thinking less and less about returning to being Anne. I love John but it's a different kind of love than it was before. He's kind to me and takes good care of me and I love the time we spend together like these walks. I've even come to really enjoy playing fetch in the back yard with him and the kids. But then there's Ben… He's such a fine looking stud and he stirs a feeling in me that I've never felt before. It's something like I used to feel for John. Damn! I'm so confused,' she thought.

After they got home Lucy went to the kitchen and munched silently on the dry kibble in her bowl. She had mastered the art of eating without utensils over the last two weeks and now never gave a thought to the fact that she was eating and drinking from dog dishes on the kitchen floor. She also loved it when John or the kids would drop scraps on the floor and she woofed them down without Anne's usual concern for dirt and germs. She also caught herself sitting and begging at John's feet at the table or while he was preparing food. She felt she had mastered 'looking cute' in order to get a scrap of 'people food.'

When Lucy took the time to think about it, she was concerned that she seemed to be slipping more and more into the contented life of a dog. There were larger and larger gaps of time that went by where she never gave a thought to, or even considered, her previous human existence. She was a dog, all dog in not only body, but in her mind too. And that was what caused her the most concern. She had come to love her life as Lucy but couldn't cope with the thought of losing her human mind and memories. Yet, during those times when they were lost to her, she never noticed or missed them.

Lucy's thoughts wandered, 'So, if I did lose all of my human mind, I would still be happy and contented and never miss it. Would I just be a dog. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I imagine. The only mental turmoil I have is with my human mind and thoughts. Yes, I'm completely content as a dog. All I have to do is just let go. Quit fighting to retain something that I no longer seem to have a use for.' And so, Lucy let go for the moment and returned to her food. She didn't know why it tasted so good but it did and the canned dog food the master gave her for dinner every night was just fantastic. She found that she could consume an entire can of food in mere moments.

Meanwhile, after their walk, John had retreated to the master bedroom for a nap while the kids waited for Lucy to finish snacking on her kibble. Once done, they went out to the back yard and called to Lucy. She hastened to the doggy door that John had installed in the wall next to the kitchen door and ran out into the back yard where Nathan and Evelyn were playing with a worn out old baseball. Locking her gaze on it as he tossed it to Evelyn she playfully yipped and bounded first over to Evelyn and then back to Nathan as Evelyn tossed the ball back to him. Finally, Lucy caught the ball in mid air between them and took off with it.

Lucy teasingly played 'Keep Away' with the ball waving it temptingly by Nathan's hand and then running away when he reached for it. When the kids appeared to be getting frustrated with Lucy's game she would 'accidentally' drop the ball and they would recover it and the game began anew.

Back and forth they played for a good half-hour before the kids tired. As Evelyn and Nathan headed for the house, Lucy took a few minutes to make a pit stop before going inside again. She found the two kids watching TV in the living room and it was apparent that they would both be sound asleep at any moment.

With a soft bite, Lucy tugged on Nathan's sleeve and then did the same to Evelyn's. She guided them both up the stairs to their rooms and supervised their change into pajamas. She made sure Nathan was comfortable in bed and the covers were over him. Then with a gentle lick on the cheek she headed out the door. Standing on her hind legs she turned off the light and nudged the door to a partially open position.

After doing the same for Evelyn, Lucy padded down the stairs to the back door and nosed it shut, waiting to hear the click of the latch. She then stood on her hind legs again and with her nose, threw the dead bolt closed. She sat in front of the door for a few minutes and sighed, 'At least I can still do the things that are important to me,' she thought.

Lucy had noticed that the door to master bedroom was open a crack so, padding silently back upstairs she made her way to the room where her husband slept still fully clothed. With a soft nudge of her nose the door to his room opened and she carefully crawled up onto the bed.

"I truly do miss your warm body my mate," she woofed softly as she snuggled up carefully against his back and lay beside him. She felt a strange need, a longing for something and there was a gentle itch just below her tail. She took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh and fell asleep.

* * * * *

Protector of the Hearth Part 4

John rolled over in the bed early in the morning, his hand landing on the supple skin of a woman. His eye bolted wide open as he stared in shock and awe at the sleeping form of his wife lying naked beside him, Lucy's collar still around her neck.

"Anne! You're alive!" he shouted as he sat up in the bed.

Anne's eyes bolted wide open then and she looked up into John's eyes and then down at her own body as she shook with disbelief.

"Where were you? Why didn't you call? And why are you wearing Lucy's collar?" John shouted at her excitedly.

Anne blinked a few times as her brain slowly woke up and tried to adjust, "I, I'm human again?"

"What do you mean you're 'human again'? Where were you? I was so scared and worried. And the kids…"

Anne rolled close to John and laid an arm across his legs and held him tightly, "Calm down and I'll try to explain," she said softly as she laid her head in his lap.

And then she began to tell her story of the last two weeks. When she finished John was dead silent. He put his hand on her forehead with a concerned look, "You don't have a fever."

"It wasn't a hallucination. Damn it John, why can't you believe me. I've told you everything that happened for the last two weeks. Everything you and the kids did. How would I know that if I wasn't right here living in this house? Think about it," she said with frustration and anger in her voice.

"You must have been really traumatized. You should get some rest. You'll feel better after you get some food and rest," John said trying to appear calm.

A deep guttural canine growl rumbled up from Anne's throat, "I'm not crazy! God, that dog Ben was more accepting of me than you are!"

Rolling off John, she got to her hands and knees and hoped down from the bed, "You're supposed to be my husband, my mate. You should trust me. You should believe me," she said looking up at him from her position on hands and knees on the floor.

"But honey…" John cried as he choked back his tears and stared down at her. "Anne, please… Please, we can talk this out," he begged.

Anne turned her back to him and then looked over her shoulder and bared her teeth, her long curved canines exposed by her viciously curled lips. As John stared at her dumbfounded, her eyes shifted from green to brown and the whites almost disappeared.

John could only watch in horror and disbelief as her beautiful face pushed out into a muzzle and the golden hairs started to cover her body. He cringed as her ears moved to the top of her head, elongated and then flopped down to the side of her head.

Anne continued to shift into the now familiar form of Lucy, as her tail pushed out from the end of her spine and the long golden hairs covered it. He glanced down to see that her arms and hands had returned to being fore legs and paws and that her legs were now hindquarters.

She had changed from Anne into Lucy right before his eyes and now sat on her haunches at his feet, her long golden fur flowing over her body. John stared at her, knowing full well what he had just witnessed. The large Golden Retriever sitting at his feet was actually his wife Anne.

"My God Anne, it's true. Everything you said, it was all true!"

Anne, now back in the form of Lucy rose to all fours, growled and snarled at him with a viciousness that scared the hell out of him and then she bounded out of the room. He just sat there scared and trying to come to grips with the reality that his wife had just changed into a dog, a Golden Retriever, right before his eyes.

He rose up from the bed and hurried to follow after her but as he reached the bottom of the stairs he heard the sound of her doggy door swinging shut. John watched her vanish around the side of the house towards the front yard.

He gave chase calling both of her names, "Anne, Lucy, come back. I'm sorry. Please come back," he pleaded. As John reached the front yard, he was only able to catch the briefest glimpse of her as she ran full out down the street, bounding away fast on her four paws. He knew pursuit was hopeless and his shoulders slumped as he gave up, defeated and returned to the house. His only hope was that she would come back later.

Lucy stormed down the streets snarling and growling, 'I can't believe him! Ok I understand that a pet were dog is a bit hard to believe but I'm his wife. He should have at least given it a chance. But no, he just dismissed it, thought I was sick or crazy. He wouldn't even listen to me. Hell, he didn't even humor me. What a damn jerk!'

Winded, Lucy slowed to catch her breath and noticed a scent that wafted past her nose as she rested. Her mood changed, She alerted and her tail started waging. 'I know that scent. It's Ben. I must be near his territory.'

With her nose to the breeze she followed the scent as it grew stronger. When she was sure she had found the source she sniffed, nose to the ground, around the mailbox post and then a tree in the yard. The final proof came when she found a fly-covered pile near the front steps, "Yes! This is Ben's." she happily barked.

A moment later, Ben bounded around from the back of the house and came up to her. "Lucy, you found me." he said as he approached. "This is great. I was hoping I would see you again."

Ben began the standard dog greeting procedures and had just reached her rear when he suddenly stopped, sniffed and said to himself, 'Oh yes! This bitch is in heat. That's why she came looking for me. She needed a stud like me to satisfy her. Well no problem there. I can scratch that itch for her.'

At the same time, Lucy was also involved with her instinctual greeting of Ben when she noticed that there was more than just a bit of the tip of his penis showing this time. When she sniffed underneath him and gave it a lick she thought. 'Wow. He's really happy to see me.'

Ben gave a soft groan as she licked him and began to give her swollen nether regions a good tongue massage. Lucy felt the attention that Ben was giving her and her tail stiffened and rose quickly to allow him to continue uninterrupted.

'Oh damn that feels good,' she thought as her shoulders slumped and her pelvis rose higher. "Oh please don't stop," she whined as he pulled away momentarily.

Ben answered, "Oh I'm not even stopping, bitch," as he gave a small hop with his front end and landed square on her back and wrapped his front legs and paws around her chest.

She growled, bared her fangs and looked back at him as he bit down gently on the back of her neck. "What the hell are you doing?" she asked what was soon almost a rhetorical question as she felt his long stiff penis probing her rear end. "Oh! Oh shit! That's not why I came here. I didn't want this," she moaned as he penetrated her.

"Oh yes you did. Even if you didn't know it, this is why you are here and this is why you became so upset. Don't worry though, I'll make it better, you'll see,"

Lucy soon forgot all but the moment. She felt him penetrate her and then the rapid jackhammer movement of Ben's hips as he pounded into her faster, harder and deeper. Then she felt as if something else, something larger was trying to get inside and soon did. As the large bulge of his knot passed her opening and lodged deep inside her vagina she knew what it was.

Ben's speed increased and soon he spent himself, filling her vagina and uterus with his seed. Then he relaxed on her back and she knew he was done. She felt as if something she needed to do had just been accomplished. A mental and physical itch had been scratched.

As Ben recovered, he moved one leg over her back and slid his paws to the ground. They were still held together by the knot of his penis buried deeply in her vagina and now stood tail to tail locked in lust.

That's how Ben's master found them in his front yard. "Ben! What have you done?" he shouted, even though he knew very well what the answer was. Even if they hadn't been firmly locked together, the look of complete satisfaction on both their faces would have told him what had just transpired.

He ran to the house and returned with two leads that he hooked to their collars and then waited. Lucy looked over her shoulder at Ben and woofed, "I can't believe you just did that to me."

"It ain't over yet Lucy. Not until the fat knot shrinks," woof, woof, woof, he laughed.

After a few more minutes, Lucy felt an easing of the tightness inside her vagina and Ben slipped out. Ben moved around to face Lucy and licked her muzzle, "Sorry about that but when I smell a hot bitch like you I just lose all control."

"You behaved like an animal!" Lucy responded.

"I am an animal. And so are you, Lucy," he answered.

"Yes. I know I am now but I changed back into a human and my mate acted like I was crazy." She whined.

"Yeah, that's a human for you. They don't believe anything you tell them unless you beat them over the head with it." He said gruffly.

"I really missed him. I missed sleeping with him. I missed talking to him. And he acted like I was insane. I was so pissed and frustrated I just ran out of the house. That's how I wound up here."

"Any regrets?" Ben asked.

"No. Not now. None at all."

"So forget your human mate. He doesn't understand you, I do. I'm your mate now. He's just your owner and master, nothing more."

Lucy nipped playfully at Ben, "No. Don't be silly. I married him. He's my mate."

"When you were human, he was your mate. You're no longer human so he is no longer your mate. That life for you is gone now. You have a new and better life and I'm you mate now. You'll be much happier this way, believe me."

She shook her head but what Ben had just said and her feelings for him only grew stronger. She knew that he was right, she was no longer human, and it didn't bother her as she thought about it.

Lucy grunted and playfully nipped at him and he nipped back at her. 'Yes. He is my mate, at least for now,' she thought and then she sat down, twisted around and started to clean their mess from her rear end. 'Mmmm, now this is one big plus about being a dog,' she thought to herself as she licked.

* * * * *

Protector of the Hearth Part 5

As John came into the house, Ben's owner said, "There she is," indicating the two dogs cuddled up lying next to each other in the corner of the room. "I found the two of them knotted together out in my front yard for all the world to see," he said chuckling. "Aren't they cute together? A regular couple those two are."

John glared down at his dog/wife lying next to the neighbor's retriever. His was quite upset but kept it below the surface. He knew he'd only look the fool if he said anything in front of his neighbor. "Thanks. I really appreciate the phone call and you taking care of her for me. I hope she wasn't too much trouble."

"Not at all. I'm quite used to it. I used to breed Golden Retrievers but a year ago my female was killed in an accident. She ran into the street and was hit by a car two weeks ago. I noticed on her tag that you dog's name is Lucy. That's what I called my dog. Her registered name was Lucinda. Ben is from her last litter."

John listened to the story and then said, "I'm sorry to hear about your dog. That's really too bad. I'm glad Lucy didn't get hit when she ran away. I guess I better get her home now."

Approaching slowly, leash in hand, John tried to hook up Lucy. She was still angry with him and looked up, growled and bared her fangs. The Neighbor approached John and pulled him back, "Let me. Dogs tend to get really testy right after they mate."

John gritted his teeth and smiled, "Yeah, they sure do. You go ahead."

"Hey don't take it so personal."

"Not take it personal when my dog just got herself fucked by your dog in your front yard?" he almost shouted. "Sorry but it is very personal to me. Especially when she growls at me like that."

"That's what they do. You haven't had her fixed, have you?"

"No," John stammered. "I haven't had her that long. She just appeared one day and we kept her."

"Well then you can pretty much count on her having a litter of puppies in a few months. Ben is a pretty sure fire stud."

The thought suddenly occurred to John that his wife was most likely going to bear a litter of puppies. "Oh shit! That's all I need."

"I might be able to help you out, John. I have connections for registered Golden Retriever pups."

"But I don't have any papers on Lucy."

"Yes, but I have the papers on Lucinda. We can use them. Lucy is obviously a purebred Golden and has excellent conformation. Her pups should be real show dogs and would bring in a lot of money. I'll take pick of the litter for the stud fee."

John shook his head and paused for a moment. He couldn't believe he was standing there having a conversation with a neighbor about breeding his wife and selling her offspring. "Yeah. Well I'll have to think about it. I'm pretty upset right now."

"No problem. I understand. You take Lucy home and let her settle down a bit and you think about what I said."

John took a firm grip on his wife's lead and started to pull her away. Lucy growled a couple of times and struggled a bit against the leash but soon gave in and followed him out of the neighbor's house and back home again.

Once they were home John led his semi-resisting dog and/or wife into their room and secured the door. He took a deep breath and slowly started in, "What were you thinking? Running off like that, not listening to me when I told you to stop, and then… and then you get yourself fucked by the neighbor's dog out in his front yard where everyone we know was able to see you. On top of that, when I get there you're laying on the floor sleeping with another dog. Were married you bitch!"

Lucy bared her fangs growling back "Yeah that's right! I'm a bitch, I'm a female dog, and you couldn't accept that. Some fucking mate you turned out to be. God, how could I have been so blind about you."

John just shook his head as his wife barked, snarled and whined at him. "Speak English, damn it! I can't understand you but I know you're saying something."

Lucy snorted, "When I did you just disregarded anything I said."

The two just stared at each other for several moments.

John dropped to a sitting position on the bed, head in hands, "God, this is all my fault. I had my wife back and I acted like she was crazy. It's no wonder she'd rather be a dog," John sighed.

Lucy started to growl but stopped and tilted her head to the side as she heard what John said and thought, 'Oh John, what have we done? I don't know how I came back to you and then I think my anger at your reaction caused me to return to being a dog. Now I don't know how to get back to being your wife again. I'm so sorry. Now here we are, both of us blaming ourselves and neither of us knowing how any of this really happened. Where do we go from here?'

The voice of the kids filtered into both of their thoughts. Lucy stood on all fours and her tail began to wag when she heard them. She walked over to the bedroom door and whined. John looked up and smiled, "Guess we both need a break, don't we girl? Ok, you go play with the kids. We'll talk more civilly later," he said as he opened the door and let her out. "Go on girl, go play with the kids."

Lucy bounded out the door as he opened it and he could hear her claws clacking on the wooden steps as she ran down to the children. He sat back down on the bed and bemoaned, "Oh Anne, I'm afraid that I've lost you for good this time."

Lucy went down and played with the kids and John joined them later when he felt up to it.

* * * * *

Protector of the Hearth Part 6

Several more weeks passed and things began to settle into a routine. John was sitting in the living room one night after the kids went to bed and Lucy was sleeping at his feet. "You're not coming back again are you Anne?" he said to her. She never budged or acknowledged that he was talking. Then he said, "Anne is gone isn't she Lucy?"

With that she lifted her head and looked up at him. He stared down at her and repeated himself, "Anne's gone now isn't she Lucy? She's never coming back to me."

Lucy looked at his sad face and thought, 'What do I do? If I acknowledge that I understand him then he will think that Anne still exists, but she doesn't. I'm Lucy now.' Lucy knew what was happening. She knew John was her husband and the children were her kids but something was happening to her. She knew she was slowly changing mentally to match her new body and life.

Her thoughts were in a turmoil as she tried to maintain the outer appearance of a typical dog. She stared up at him with an attentive but empty stare and cocked her head to one side as she continued to think, 'My human mind seems to leave me for longer and longer periods of time. It's as if I don't need it anymore. I don't need John as a mate anymore either because I have Ben. And I don't need the kids as my children because I'm carrying a litter of my own and will soon have puppies to take care of. My only real responsibilities now are as a dog and loyal family pet, and I like it that way. It's a comfortable life. I don't want to give him any false hopes that I will return because I don't think I will,' she was thinking. As she continued to stare at him she opened her mouth and started to pant just a little and let her long pink tongue loll out the side of her mouth.

John looked down sadly at the beautiful Golden Retriever that was once his loving wife, "Oh Anne, or Lucy, whichever you are, I love you. I wish you understood what I'm saying. I don't know that I will ever forgive myself for driving you back into that form. I wish I knew how to change you back. I wish I knew what caused the change in the first place. I miss Anne, my wife."

Lucy's thoughts and reasoning searched for answers or solutions but there were none, 'My only regret is the sadness and pain that John and the kids feel because I'm gone, especially John. I can see that the kids are adjusting well and soon will have moved on past my disappearance and that is good, but John is another story. He still talks to me every night and whenever we're alone as if I was still Anne. He believes that by not accepting the fact that I am most likely going to live out my life as a dog that I will somehow change back into Anne. But even if I knew how to change back into Anne I don't know that I would. I don't think I want to be Anne anymore. I like being Lucy. I am Lucy. Anne is as dead to me as she is to the rest of the world.'

Just then, the phone rang and John answered it. It was his boss, "John. How's it going? I got your message to call, any word on Anne?"

John answered, "No. nothing new. The police have concluded that whoever broke in abducted her and more than likely killed her. They figure that her body is buried somewhere in a shallow unmarked grave. The courts have officially declared her dead and issued a death certificate." John said, barely able to get the words out.

"Oh. Damn, I'm sorry, John. Is there anything that I can do?" his boss responded.

"Yeah. You talked about using me as a private consultant so I can work from home and take care of the kids too. Any progress on that thought?" John asked.

"If you want it that way, it's a done deal. I have it all approved. The head shed doesn't want to lose you and they are more than happy to have you as a private contractor. I'll have the contracts over to you in the morning."

After a short further conversation, John hung up and looked back down at Lucy. "Well, girl, looks like you're stuck with me at home full time now."

Lucy looked up at him and thought, 'I hope this works out for him and he gets over mourning the loss of Anne. The sooner he looks at me as he would any normal dog the better. I'm tired of fighting my emotions. I wonder if I'll ever be able to be just Lucy, the Golden Retriever?'

As the days and weeks passed it became apparent to everyone around that Anne was gone. The official court findings helped but it was still a rough transition for John and the kids to finally come to grips with the fact that she was never coming back to them.

John knew better but he could hardly disagree with everyone. He looked down at Lucy and said, "I can hardly try to tell them that my wife, Anne is actually alive and well and living at home as a pregnant Golden Retriever named Lucy. They would have me fitted for a jacket with extra long sleeves and the kids would wind up in foster care. You would most likely wind up in the Animal Shelter. I can't have that so this is the way it will have to be. I'll never have any interest in another woman because as far as I'm concerned my wife is still here and I'm still married to her."

Lucy mentally shook her head and thought, 'Won't he ever give up?'

John was able to set himself up as a private consulting firm. This allowed him to continue working at his job, still be at home most of the time for the kids and to set his own schedule. It also allowed him to take in work from other businesses that needed his expertise. In the long run, his salary actually tripled but it wasn't all a bed of roses along the way.

John played the part of the bereaved husband and did what he needed to do to maintain that part. Anne's life insurance paid off on her accidental death and he put it in a trust for the kids education. John never expected to see Anne again and so he did his best to move on with life. He treated Lucy more and more as the dog she appeared to be in public but at night, in the privacy of their bedroom, he continued talked to her as if she was still Anne. Sometimes he thought that he could see a light of understanding in her expressions and hoped that she knew what he was saying but he was never sure. It seemed that as time went by, Lucy became more and more, just a dog.

After a few months had passed, Lucy had her litter. The kids loved them. They were so cute and just as well behaved as Lucy. It was hard, but when they were six weeks old John turned them over to his neighbor and they were sold. He had arranged all of the registration paperwork just as he said he would and they brought a good price. The money was added to the kid's education fund.

Because the pups were from quality stock, according to their paperwork, they were well accepted and did amazingly well at all the dog shows. It was often said that they almost seemed to be as smart as a human.

One night, shortly after Lucy weaned her first litter, she and John were up in the master bedroom. He looked down at her and said, "I'm so sorry Anne, won't you ever come back to me. Even for a short time?"

Lucy's eyes sparkled, she tilted her head and barked softly. John knew that something was different about her right away and hope sprang into his heart as he saw subtle changes taking place.

Lucy closed her eyes and breathed slowly. Her front paws lengthened and the dewclaw digit moved down as her paws stretched out into a fur covered cross between hands and a paws. Slowly her hindquarters altered until she was able to stand up awkwardly on her back paws. Her shoulders broadened and shifted as eight breasts running down her chest in two parallel rows swelled out. The golden fur on her head lengthened and became a long golden mane that cascaded down her back like a waterfall until it almost touched her tail. She shifted her posture as her hips altered some more and she was able to settle down on her paws.

John stood staring at her in shock. Then he slowly moved towards her when it seemed that the changes had stopped or at least slowed. He stood in front of this combination, this hybrid of a Golden Retriever and a human woman. A woman that was his wife Anne.

"Anne, you're coming back to me!" he almost shouted. "I've missed you so much, Anne. I love you and need you so much. The kids need their mother."

He watched as her muzzle shortened a bit and stopped. She still had a muzzle but it was wider and she still had her large canine teeth. "I'm not Anne anymore. I'm Lucy. I've missed you all in a way too, but I've also been here with you in another way. When I returned before you just couldn't accept the fact that I had really become a dog. Now you want your loving human mate back, your docile housewife but that isn't going to happen. Your rejection of me the last time caused me to retreat back into being a dog and now I'll never be able to return to you as a human and your wife again.

"No. Don't say that. Please, I will accept everything you tell me. Please, we need you to return to us as Anne, my wife and the mother of our children."

"That can't happen. Not now, it's too late for that. Besides, I'm much more than that now and I feel so much better as I am. I love my life as a dog and I don't want to change back. I've come to realize that I wouldn't change back even if I could and I'm sure that it's not possible anymore."

"But you are changing, look at yourself. You're almost there, just a little more."

"John, you're refusing to accept me as I am again. This is as far as I go. Accept me and I may be able to return to this form from time to time. Reject me and I will return to being your dog Lucy and you will never see me like this again. There will never again be the slightest hint of Anne ever again. You can have this one night with me my mate, my lover, my husband. Accept me like this or not at all," Lucy cry-growled at him.

"Oh Lucy, anything you say. I accept you in any form. Just hold me! I love you," John said as he wrapped his arms around her fur-covered body.

They made love that night and fell asleep in each other's arms. John awoke the next morning to find Lucy the dog lying on the other side of the bed. From that day on, Lucy was no more than a normal Golden Retriever. He never again saw the spark of Anne's presence in her eyes or expression and never again noticed any human traits in her actions.

Lucy lived the life of a normal dog and never let John know that Anne was still occasionally there. She felt that the only way he would be able to move on was if Anne was gone completely and all that remained was Lucy.

Lucy never knew why or how but she did return in her hybrid form every once in awhile and they spent wonderful nights together but it was always Lucy, never Anne.

At her request, John arranged for Lucy to be bred with Ben many more times. She seemed to enjoy it. She was a good mother and had many more fine litters.

Their kids matured and rose to the task of taking care of Lucy. They also did well at caring for John and the house. Evelyn and Nathan learned to cook out of self preservation. Both of the children were great at watching over Lucy's puppies whenever she had a litter. The kids grew older and their love for Lucy grew with them. John never did completely get over the loss of his wife but his time with Lucy and his love for her helped.

The End

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