Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)
TITLE: The Heart Worm
By Cheri Hardaway
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My normally congenial hubby took one look at my enraptured expression and said one word. “No.”
“But honey, she is so cute. C’mon. My mom wants to give the kids a puppy for Christmas.” I cajoled.
“But she wants to give them a Lhasa Apso, and this little one needs a home right now. It will be an early Christmas present.” I gave him my best puppy dog eyes and pouty smile.
“Well…” His resolve was crumbling.
“Here, hold her,” I said, shoving the little brown-eyed bundle into his arms.
The pup knew her future with us depended on this moment. She locked eyes with Jim and then slobbered puppy kisses on his chin.
“Ugh,” he handed her back to me, mopping at his wet chin. “If the kids don’t take care of her, she’s gone.”
A band of dark brown fur wrapped around her tummy, with white on either end, kind of like a reverse Oreo, so we named her Cookie. One eye was rimmed with black, along with the tips of both ears. Her fluffy tail curled over her backside, and she pranced along like a little princess.
The first couple nights, Cookie slept in the kitchen, in a little box with a blanket and a ticking alarm clock. By the third night, she’d decided she didn’t care for that arrangement. The howling began.
After two hours, I groaned at Jim. “What did we do when the kids wouldn’t stop crying at night?”
“We put them in bed with us, but you’re not bringing that dog in here.”
“Oh, yes, I am. We have to get some sleep.”
Minutes later, Cookie lay contentedly at the end of our bed. All was quiet, except for an occasional grumble from Jim’s side of the bed.
Cookie was easy to housebreak, and the family quickly adapted to a routine that included our pup. She loved to curl up with thirteen-year-old Derek. Jacob, who was seven, teased her so, that she would chase any little guy wearing white socks. Amanda loved her, and two-year-old Kayla took to calling her “Ee ee,” because she couldn’t say “Cookie.” Still, I remained Cookie’s most loyal friend; she knew who bathed her, cleaned up after her, and gave her medicine when she needed it.
The years have passed quickly, and Cookie finds herself alone with “Mom” these days. That would be me. I talk with her. I tell her about her “brothers” and “sisters,” what they’re up to these days. She pads softly after me as I putter around the house. If I’m watching television or reading, she can be found at my feet. If I’m at the computer, she is under the desk. If I’m washing the dishes, she lies on the rug in front of the sink.
Her brown eyes are cloudy with cataracts now. When I let her out to go potty, she often just stands there on the porch, because she cannot remember why she is out there. She doesn’t always wake up when we come home; her hearing isn’t what it used to be. She can snore as loudly as Jim. She’s still a wee bundle, but she’s no longer a pup. She is in her teens, making her a senior citizen in dog years. Her health is failing, and she takes daily thyroid medication. She sometimes forgets to ask to go outside when nature calls.
Ever practical, Jim looked at me the other day and said, “You know, we will have to consider putting Cookie to sleep one day.”
“Well, when I get old and senile, are you going to put me to sleep too,” I’d retorted.
“I’m sorry, hon.” He didn’t pursue the subject.
That night as we drifted off to sleep, I heard him sit up and lean over the side of the bed. “Awww…” he cooed. “What’s the matter, Cook? Too old to jump up on the bed? Here, let Daddy help you get up.”
I flipped on the light switch to be sure I’d heard correctly. Yup, Cookie was curled at his feet on the end of the bed. She’d won Jim over too; finally wormed her way into his heart. It just took him an awfully long time to admit it.
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