I heard the yelping before my eyes had even adjusted from their sleep induced fuzziness. It sounded like a dog, like a little dog, maybe even a puppy. I tried to figure out if I was dreaming. Did my parents finally relent and give in the ‘I want a dog” pleas that I had been performing for over a year? I pinched my own scrawny arm. I definitely wasn’t sleeping. It was time to explore.
It was warm outside already, I remember the ground almost burning my feet. As I rounded the corner I saw the source of the yelping. It was tiny and white, with a big black splodge across its eye. It was sitting on top of Mum’s famous petunias looking very scared and a little embarrassed.
I bent down and put my hand out. The scared little face pulled away, back pedaling further into the petunias. It was scared of me. Me, at 6 years old! I raced inside and found some steak that Mum was defrosting on the kitchen counter. The puppy liked it. It ate the steak and licked my fingers afterwards, and slowly it came out of the petunia bush and let me pat its warm, fuzzy little head.
I named the puppy Charlie not sure if it was a girl or a boy. I fed it more steak, I imagined how it would be my dog and follow me everywhere - growling at the big boys across the street that had BMX bikes. In the space of 5 minutes I had Charlie and my whole future planned out. Then Mum came.
Mum stood at the edge of the garden with her hands on her hips “Where did you get that dog from Kyle?”
“Nowhere. I just found it.”
“You just found it here in the garden bed, eating my petunias?”
“He also ate a steak.”
Mum’s face went purple, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned the steak. “You have 3 seconds to tell me where this dog came from.”
“I don’t know I just came out and here he was. Can we keep him? Please Mum.”
My Mum looked at me and at Charlie, his tiny nervous shivery body, his big scared eyes, the wiggly tail – “No.”
My Mum looked at me and I could see her start to feel bad, “That poor puppy probably belongs to someone Kyle, and I bet they miss him very much.”
“But how did he get into our backyard?” my question hung in the air as my Dad strode in.
My Dad was wonderful, he was my hero. He was strong and smart and he always knew what to do.
“Dad I found a puppy and it’s name is Charlie and I want to keep him and he is really scared and I just found him in the garden and I don’t think he belongs to anyone because why would he be here and I promise I’ll look after him and” The words all rolled into one big sentence.
My dad smiled at me “Slow down son. We have to first make sure that this dog doesn’t belong to someone. Does he have a collar?” I shook my head. My Dad strode around the garden then through the big grey gates that separated our little home from the big world outside. “There is foot prints outside – they must have thrown the poor blighter over the fence.”
Dad came back in and I looked at him hopefully as well but he glanced in Mum’s direction. She frowned, he frowned – No!!! He was siding with her, I could feel his look change.
“Sorry son, we already have 2 pets.”
“The cats aren’t pets and what is going to happen to Charlie we can’t just abandon him!” I held Charlie so tight he whimpered.
“I hope Grumble and Mrs Mopps don’t hear you say that. We’ll take Charlie to the vet and the vet will find someone who can give him a good home,” said my Dad.
“But we have a good home, he can stay with us, and I promise I will walk him everyday and pick up all his poo, and train him to do really cool stuff, and …”
But I could tell that my words were falling on deaf ears.
Just at that moment the best thing that could possibly happen, happened a very loud “Coooooeeeeee” was heard from the front gate. It was my Grandma, who was the bestest Grandma ever. She told the best stories, let me watch cartoons on tv, and always brought me a milky way (which she secretly gave to me when my parents weren’t looking). I was pretty certain that if anyone could figure out how I could keep Charlie it would be Grandma.
She rounded the corner into the garden smelling like fruit and sounding like a circus with all her bracelets jangling. She took one look at Charlie and got down on her hands and knees and woofed at him. I smiled and Charlie delightedly ran over to Grandma. “Who is this cutie pie?”
“That’s Charlie Grandma,” I said proudly.
“We’re not keeping him Mum, he was thrown over the fence this morning,” said my Dad. My Grandma looked at me and looked at Charlie.
“We’re going to take him to the vet and see if anyone is missing him” added my mother.
“Why would they be missing him if they threw him over the fence?’ I pointed out.
“We can’t have another pet Kyle. We already have 2 cats”
“I hate the cats”
“Shhhh.” Suddenly everyone was quiet, we looked at Grandma. “Leave this to me. Kyle and I will sort this out.” My Mum and Dad looked at Grandma in shock. My Mum then shrugged and my Dad smiled at Grandma and said “thanks Mum” and they headed into the house.
My Grandma sat next to me with Charlie and we threw a very small twig for him to chase. It was funny as he wasn’t very co-ordinated yet and he kept tripping over his front legs. We didn’t talk for a long time. Then Grandma started.
“You know Kyle sometimes we can’t be with the things we love, like people or puppies.” I wondered if she was talking about Grandpa. She never talked about Grandpa but whenever anyone mentioned him she got this sad look. ‘But you know what we can do? We can write a story about them so we can read that story and be with them any time we want.”
It didn’t seem much consolation to me, but Grandma persuaded me. She got out this big beautiful notebook with a book and a sword on the cover and she made me write about how I found Charlie. She made me describe every little detail, and what I would do if he could be my dog. She then helped me draw little pictures. One of Charlie scared in the petunias, one of Charlie scaring the big boys with the BMX’s away and one where Charlie found a wonderful home with another little boy who really needed him.
That afternoon Grandma and I took Charlie to the vet, who told us that Charlie would be snapped up in no time by a new family because he was so cute. I cried a little, and Grandma let me blow my nose on her shawl. That night I took out the big notebook Grandma had given me and I read about my adventures with Charlie the wonder-dog. That night my dreams were filled with Charlie and me going on amazing adventures. The dreams were so real I swear I could feel his leathery tongue licking my face.