Today is July 7th, making it two years since I lost my dog Penny. She was a good dog-friend for 13 years, and I hope she had a happy life with me and my family. I love the infamous Teddy to pieces, of course, and it was really Penny that made that possible–she taught me how to appreciate a dog for all the things that make dogs…well…dogs. Here’s the story of my pretty Penny, found and lost:
My father found Penny at our local flea market. She was in a big cardboard box marked “Dogs – $5” with a couple of her brothers. Dad joked with the kids who had her, telling them that he’d check back by on his way out and take her if she was free. Lo and behold, when he passed back by, the cardboard box read “Dog
s -$5) and the-pup-who-would-become-Penny was the only one left, so she was free. What else could Dad do besides pack up the sturdy, fluffy little thing and bring her home?
Dad still claims he got her for my sister who had just lost one of her dogs but still had ‘Cookie,’ an adolescent shepherd-mix who needed a companion. Somehow, though, the new pup stayed at my parent’s house. She liked to curl up in one of my dad’s galoshes on their back porch and she liked to watch TV with my parents at night. No name jumped out at us, so we called her ‘Up-Pup’ when someone was carrying her, and ‘Down-Pup’ when her feet were on the ground.
Time passed and no name stuck, until we struck on ‘Penny’ in honor of her bright brown coat. (Dad would later say her name was ‘Penny’ because she wasn’t worth TWO cents.) Penny continued to live with my parents for a couple of years, and then I started taking her home with me at night. (Easy to do, as my parents are also my neighbors.) Every morning, she’d hang out until I went to work, then amble over to their house for breakfast and a pleasant day of nosing about with them (plus napping in their basement if was hot, or in their bedroom closet if it was rainy). After work, I’d swing by for her and we’d go home.
She was a grand girl–a shepherd-chow mix with a heavy double coat that allowed her to sleep in a frosty pile of leaves (if it was her idea) and a very laid-back personality. Penny liked to lie down in the middle of my parent’s kitchen floor, completely blocking one of the doorways so that everyone had to step over her to get to the dining room–I don’t know how many meals we carried back and forth over her. Bath-time was a challenge: she clung to the bathroom floor like a melted caramel and had to be boosted, one inert end at a time, into the tub–nor was it possible, with any means at my disposal–to actually get water and soap all the way through her coat and to her skin. (Baths just freshened up her top layer, so to speak.)
Sometimes, when Teddy is practically dancing atop my head or dragging me by my pant-leg toward something his heart desires (a dog-treat, a crunchy beetle, etc.), I miss Penny and her quiet, old-dog ways–her gentle snoring coming from the big pillow beside my bed; the way she’d lay down with her back to me to indicate a negative answer (“no, thank you; I don’t care for any more”); her nose shoved under any hand that quit petting her. Then I remind myself that things change, and the big empty spot my pretty Penny left behind has been filled by a 10-pound terrier who’s all teeth and and hair and air, and I’m grateful to have had–and to currently have–the perfect dog for me.