This is the story of an "accidental dog." Among the dogs I have known in my long lifetime, this dog is the first in my memory.
She became our family's pet when I was very young, and we kids were convinced that our guardian angels had arranged for her to meet us.
She was a small mixed breed, and her black and peanut-butter-colored markings were not unlike those of the dobermans that would grace my life in later years.
Her expressive eyes and intelligent face entered our lives on a rainy day so filled with fog that my father had to back out of the driveway with his driver-side door open so he could better see where he was going.
From out of the mist the little dog appeared quite suddenly, accepting the implied invitation of the open car door. She jumped in and refused to leave.
Realizing she was injured, Dad scoured the neighborhood in search of her owner, but his efforts then and later proved futile. Nevertheless, this dog needed help, and Dad would see that she got it. Though his family was growing and his budget was tight, he took the dog to a veterinarian and shouldered the expense for her care, which included the removal of part of her left rear leg.
"This is a dog for a family with children, and I am a man with plenty of children," I heard my father tell the vet. I knew then for sure, the little dog would be coming home with us.
For whatever reason, we named her Peggy, and in no time at all she was following us everywhere. More correctly, perhaps, WE were following HER. Missing leg or not, her snow-white forepaws were never still, and so we endowed this swift and energetic animal with a middle name. She was now Peggy Twinkle-Toes.
Some years later, we had to put her down; she was suffering terribly and the vet could do nothing to cure her or relieve her pain. I believe my father was as heart-broken as we were, but he explained the situation to us with honesty and sensitivity.
He told us she had been a special gift to us, and we had been a gift to her as well. We had extended her years and given her a loving home, and in return she had given us fun and love and companionship in great measure.
We kids were there when Dad buried her. We told him we hoped our guardian angels could find a way to sneak her into heaven, but we had heard some grown-ups say that dogs don't get into heaven because they don't have souls.
Dad didn't say yes or no to that. He simply told us quietly that God must love us very much to have given us such a dog as our companion, for however long.
I still feel that way about dogs.
Rose About Town thinks that almost every grownup can remember a dog of childhood. What do you recall about yours? (Comments received at firstname.lastname@example.org)