When I was twelve years old, I was finally allowed to get a puppy and my father charged me with full responsibility for her care. “You won’t ever see me walking a dog!” he said.
She was six weeks old, a black-and-white cocker spaniel whom I named Cindy. The early days were hard, especially the nights when she whined nonstop despite the ticking clock and hot water bottle we tucked in alongside her.
But she settled in and became my devoted companion, sprinting upstairs every morning to wake me and waiting at the window after school. In the evenings, I took her for walks around the block so she could chase the squirrels and sniff every tree trunk.
It wasn’t long, however, before I was going off to college—and leaving Cindy behind. I knew she would get good care but worried she might be lonely. Coming home for the holidays, I was surprised to find Cindy on my father’s lap.
After dinner he snapped on the leash and took her for a walk around the block.
And years later, when Cindy was too ill to walk, it was my father who lifted her into the car and took her to the vet to be put down. “She’s a good puppy,” he said.