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As is the case with many twelve-year-old sixth graders, I used to be a little self-centered. I was in the middle of puberty, with hormones raging and jumbling my mind in all kinds of ways, and the fact that I was slightly socially awkward and seen as a “geek” to begin with did nothing to help my situation. I thought this sixth-grade version of hell would never end – and as a coping mechanism, I started to turn inward and ignore the friends I did have at school. This would have completely isolated me if it were not for one seemingly ordinary spring day during March of that year.
Like every afternoon, I left my middle school building at the east entrance, where my mom would usually park her car. This time, though, instead of seeing my mom, I saw a crowd of small children from the elementary school (the school ran from kindergarten to eighth grade, so we interacted often with the younger kids). I peered into the crowd and finally saw my mom – with a puppy in her arms. I was baffled. When had we ever discussed getting a dog? We must be babysitting someone else’s puppy, I reasoned. I wormed my way through the swarm of children and asked my mom, “Whose dog is this?”
“She’s yours!” my mom answered joyfully. The dog squirmed in her arms.
“You went to the pet store and just got a dog?”
“No, I found her!”
My mom proceeded to take me and our new companion to the car and tell me just how this little bundle of fur had found her way into our lives. She had been driving down Nine Mile Road (yes, the one found a mile due north of Eminem’s famed 8 Mile) in an area of town she didn’t usually frequent. Suddenly she had seen a small dog dart across the road to the shoulder. The dog appeared to be getting ready to cross again, and my mom was terrified of seeing it run over by a fast-approaching semi. So, being the impulsive yet compassionate person that she was, she pulled over and called to it. To her surprise, the dog romped right over to her and hopped into the car. After a quick trip to the vet (where it was revealed that “it” was actually a “she” and that “she” was a beagle of about six months old) my mom continued on to pick me up from school.
I was surprised, to say the least. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to deal with a dog in the house; neither of my parents nor I had ever had one as a pet. If no one claimed this dog as their lost pet, we would be learning how to take care of a dog from scratch.
On the way home, I christened our new pet with a name: Candy, because her pink little nose called to mind those candy buttons enjoyed by small children everywhere. Once we arrived at home, the learning process began. At first she sat on the floor in the kitchen, looking as confused as we all were. I sat on the floor and scratched her head, as I had done with other people’s dogs. She suddenly rolled over, belly up, and looked at me expectantly. It took me a few seconds, but I figured out that she wanted me to rub her tummy. When I obliged, she visibly relaxed and wagged her tail as much as she could in such a position. I realized that, even though I could never have imagined such a situation a few hours ago, I was growing to like this change in events.
That was over five years ago. Candy now (usually) sleeps in my bed, and although she coats my sheets with dog hair and tends to hog the blankets – not to mention she snores almost as much as my dad does – I couldn’t be happier that she was brought to us. I’m not sure how she will take my being away at college next year – but I can guarantee that I’ll be home often, just to see her.
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