The Littlest Puppy

October 1, 2008
By Hayden Skoch, Portland, OR

“How much longer?” I wailed from the back seat of the car.

“We’ll get there when we get there, now calm down,” my father said hushing me.

We were going to get a dog. I had been begging for one just a little over a year now and couldn’t wait five more minutes to wrap my hands around its soft little body. My mom wanted a Lab but I politely demanded a Pug.
We had been bumping down the rough country road for almost an hour now and my ten-year-old self was getting quite annoyed and bored with the consistently similar scenery.

Finally, we turned down a gravel path with a crooked mailbox on the side of the drive with the breeders address printed on its’ side. My stomach filled with happy anxiety. We lurched to a stop and two older pugs came to greet us. They wagged their tails happily and nudged our feet as we hopped out of the car. The dogs were running around a large fenced area. There was lots of dry grass and warm country air. Suddenly an older man came out of the small farmhouse which was perched on the edge of the property.

“You must be the man we talked to on the phone?” my father questioned.

“Yes, well I’m Herb. Do you folks want to come in and take a look at the dogs?” he asked in a friendly manner. Finally, I thought. I couldn’t wait to get in and see the puppies.
We walked in the small home. The rugs were stained from dog pee and the smell wasn’t appealing. I put aside the gross presentation of the house when I saw two small puppies rolling around the floor. They both looked up at us with joyful shining eyes. My mom and dad sat on the worn down, flower printed couch next to the puppies and my brother and I sat on the floor playing with the fragile little dogs.

“This one is the runt of the litter,” Herb said pointing at the smaller puppy. She had darker fur and was softer too when I held her in my hands. She had a cute little smile and was quite outgoing.
“This one is the pick of the littler,” Herb said pointing at the other dog. This one was sweet and calm. I thought they were both cute but I preferred the little runt. Both of the puppies were doing little forward rolls on the carpet with precious smiles engraved on their fuzzy faces.

We sat for a while playing with the puppies exchanging looks at one another.
“Can we get the tiny one mom, please?” my brother and I asked. We stared up at her for a moment with big eyes.
“Well, I really like this big one,” she said. She looked up at my dad.
He shrugged his shoulders with his I’m not quite sure look and then glanced down at us.

In the end we decided on the little runt. The whole car ride home with debated on a name. Many names were tossed out haphazardly or suggested carefully such as Hallie, Rose, or my brother’s idea, Captain Underpants. Finally, we came to an agreement with the name Isabella.

Isabella was very smart. The first day we got her she learned how to use her special puppy pee pads. These pads were for small dogs that had to be home alone for long periods of time as a puppy often does. She took lots of long naps, once she curled up like a little fuzzy ball on my lap and slept for three hours.

A few days went by, and I loved having a dog more and more each day. I had told all my friends at school about her and was dying to show everyone how cute she was. I begged my mom to let us bring her into school for show and tell and let her run around the classroom rug. Finally she agreed to it.

The next day I was going to have a sleep over with my friend Emma and my mom was bringing Isabella to school during that day. I was so excited before my mom brought her in the classroom. My mom came in with Isabella cradled in her arms.

My teacher Richard explained to the class that we all must sit criss cross in the circle so the puppy couldn’t run wildly around the classroom.

“Ohhhhhh,” the class all chimed in when they saw my cute little puppy.

She ran around the circle happily sniffing everyone and wagging her tail. After a little while my mom announced that it was time for the puppy and her to leave and go to my brother’s classroom.
The rest of the day went fine I had math and music and P.E. The whole time I was anticipating the end of the day when I got to have a sleep over with Emma.

At the end of the day we grabbed our backpacks off our hooks and headed toward the middle school building.
“I think tonight we can watch Legally Blonde!” I said.

“ Cool I love that movie,” Emma replied. We approached the middle school building and made our way upstairs weaving in and out of the scary older children. We walked in to my mom’s office. She was sitting on the couch looking very sad as if she had cried and was about to cry again. She looked quite despondent.

“What’s wrong mommy?” I asked worried and a little embarrassed.

“Isabella is very sick sweetie,” she said looking up at me with red eyes, “ She started having terrible breathing problems today. I took her to the vet to see what was wrong. They said she had a very serious breathing condition and it is a very expensive surgery to fix the problem she has.” She sucked some of the pain back in and looked at me with comforting eyes. “ So, I called Herb the breeder today and told him about the problem. He said that if we didn’t want to pay for the surgery we could come back and get the puppy that had been there the other day.”

I looked at her hopping she was going to say that we would be paying for the surgery but I had an odd feeling that wasn’t going to be her response.
“So I hope you girls don’t mind but we are going to drive out to the breeders and get the other doggy and say goodbye to Isabella,” my mom announced. At this point she had her emotions gathered up and was willing to comfort us if needed.

Once my brother got to the middle school building we got in the car to head out to the middle of nowhere.. We pulled up in the same dusty driveway and walked to the front door to find the screen door open.

We creaked the door open and walked in. The larger puppy immediately ran to greet us. She jumped up on our legs and wagged her tail. Herb walked into the living room with sympathetic look on his gentle, wrinkled face.
“I sorry about this folks, we’re never happy to see these things happen.” Herb said gloomily.
My mom bent over and put poor little Isabella in Herbs hands. We kids all ran over to pet her goodbye. My mom began to slightly weep again. I felt like crying too but I had no desire in embarrassing myself when I had a friend over. I didn’t want to see her go like this and it broke my young heart to give up something so young and helpless. I felt like throwing up all my sad emotions, but I held them in.
We left quickly because we didn’t want to stand there in pain much longer. My brother got the new dog and put her in the car.

She was sweet as well and was a healthy bundle of energy. Emma and I played with her in the car the whole way home giggling at her hyper behavior, which she hasn’t lost to this day.

“Let’s stop at Dairy Queen for a treat,” mom suggested. She wanted to cheer my brother and me up and give us something special. We ate the ice cream with tiny red spoons and had hot fudge on top.

This story represents bitter, sweet emotions. Freja, “the new dog,” turned out to be a wonderful companion and still lives with me. I can’t help but wonder what happened to Isabella though. Did she have the special surgery or did she pass away? It gives me an eerie uncomfortable feeling each time I think about it. And every time I wonder if she remembers me like I remember her.

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