Story by Pamela Jenkins
I held the warm, fuzzy body in my arms during the two-hour drive home, breathing in the sweet puppy scent. As my husband drove, the puppy watched the moving scenery through the window. Occasionally he would stretch up and touch his moist nose to my cheek, as if wondering who I was and where I was taking him. As the miles passed, I felt the aching in my heart ease a bit.
It had been seven months since we lost our elderly Schnauzer to cancer. Being married to a veterinarian and working in an animal hospital should have prepared me for the loss and grief that would follow. I help people deal with these difficult situations every day. In the end, however, I cried just as hard as anyone else. I missed my little buddy. I didn’t think I’d find another dog I would ever love as much.
Time goes by, however, and the kids were asking for another pet. My son, especially, wanted a dog to teach tricks. To an eight-year-old boy, there could be nothing as cool as a dog that would fetch and roll over on command.
I researched all the breeds I could think of that would fit our family lifestyle, and finally decided on a Wire Fox Terrier. They are popular in circus acts, so surely one could be taught a few simple tricks. We were able to locate a breeder in our state. I called to ask about her puppies.
“Yes, I have three males left,” she said. We talked for several minutes about pedigrees and temperaments. I began to feel a small rush of excitement at the prospect of a new puppy, and at the same time guilty. I would never be able to replace my old dog. I told the breeder that I would discuss it with my husband and let her know.
The next day, I called again to set up a time to look at the litter. I began to feel a little anxious when she told me that she now only had two puppies.
The day arrived for the visit to the breeder, and only one puppy was left. My husband and I were both apprehensive. The litter had been a large one. Out of eight puppies, this was the only one that hadn’t been sold.
We were pleased to find that the puppy was healthy, bright and alert. We could find no faults in his physical conformation. Even his spots were in all the right places. It took less that a minute to make our decision. We would take him home.
As my husband drove, he turned to glance at the puppy I held close to me. He said, “I know he got passed over seven times, but I can’t help but think that we may have gotten the best pup in the litter. I honestly can’t see a thing wrong with him.”
Our children were overjoyed when they saw the new arrival. They named him William Tell, and he quickly adapted to his new home. My children enjoyed hearing the story about getting the last puppy from the litter.
This morning, my son was throwing a stick in the yard. Tell was dutifully bouncing after it and bringing it back gripped tightly in his puppy teeth.
“Look, Mom! His first trick!”
Then he dropped down on his knees and hugged Tell. The terrier wiggled with excitement at the attention, but my son looked up at me with watery eyes. I asked, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“He was the last one picked,” he said sadly. “I hate to be the last one picked!”
Suddenly, my mind went back in time. I was once again a gangly young girl with bad eyesight, clumsy at sports, holding back tears because I was one of the last to be chosen for gym teams.
“Oh, sweetie, I know Tell was the last one left, but look at how wonderful his life has turned out! He lives on a farm in the country. He has a fenced yard to play in so he doesn’t get lost. He has lots of barns to explore when he walks with us. Your Daddy is a veterinarian, so he’ll always have the best of care.” I gave both son and puppy a hug as I added, “And the best thing of all is that he has his own boy to play with every day. I think being the last one picked turned out pretty good this time, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, Mom, it did!” he answered. I watched him throw another stick across the yard. In a flash, the spotted puppy raced after it.
“Thanks, Mom,” my son said. “I’m glad he was last, because you know what? Now we’ve got the greatest dog EVER!”
I watched as William Tell pranced back to us, proudly holding the stick in his mouth. I wondered if what my son had said would turn out to be true. This puppy had some mighty big paw prints to fill. Then I noticed the look of joy on my little boy’s face. I don’t think I have anything to worry about now.
Tell may have been the last puppy, but he’s off to a fine start in our hearts.