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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #1341110
Rewritten, this is how Jenny, our new puppy, set about to win Dad over.

Word Count: 1118

Jenny with the Soulful Eyes
By Donna Lowich

The puppy stood on her hind legs and practically leaped into my arms. She was six weeks old, a cocker spaniel mix with light brown fur and the most soulful eyes imaginable. As the runt of the litter, she was the target of her siblings’ play. She stood on her hind legs, looking at me with those sad brown eyes that begged me to hold her. I knew she had to be a part of my family. I loved her from the start.

It was May 1968. I had just passed my driver's test, and was thrilled to be able to drive myself and anyone else, for that matter, around town. A friend of mine had asked if I could drive her to a new pet shop in town. I was happy to oblige.

After I took my friend back to her house, I went straight home to tell my younger sister, Mary Lou, all about my adventure that afternoon, from parallel parking to puppy finding. She agreed that we needed a plan to present our "We Need a Puppy" campaign to our parents.

We decided that at seventeen and fifteen respectively, we were both old enough to be responsible for a puppy, especially one as cute as this one. All that was left to do was convince our parents.

We brought the subject up at dinner that night. My mother looked at my father but he just shook his head. "The puppy is cute right now but in a few months you won't want to take care of it."

We made our usual protestations: we were now old enough to be responsible and couldn't we please have this chance to prove ourselves? Dad sank back in his chair; we knew we were winning. Either we were very persuasive in our arguments or Dad was just worn down.

After school the next day, Mary Lou and I went for a visit to the pet store. The puppies were still ganging up on our puppy that we had already named Jennifer. She recognized me, or at least I think she did, as she stood on her hind legs, wagging her tail wildly.

Without so much as another thought, we paid five dollars for Jenny, and brought her home. It was OK, we figured, because as Mary Lou put it, "Dad didn't actually say,”No!"

It was a Wednesday, Dad's normal day off, so when we pulled into the driveway he was busy tinkering with his car, his favorite pastime. He looked up and shook his head as I held Jenny up for him to see.

When we showed Mom, she melted. Cocker spaniels were her favorite breed of dog, and Jenny looked for the all world to be a full breed cocker. All Mom could say was, "Look at those eyes!" We obviously had easily won Mom over to our side.

Dad came in and I brought Jenny to him. Directing Jenny's face to look straight at him, I asked, "How could you not love a face like this?"

He smiled, shook his head slowly, and said, "Let's see how this works out, OK?"

"OK!" Mary Lou and I said in unison. We knew there was no way that Dad wouldn't love that face. He had given it his best shot, and we all knew he couldn't win against Jenny's soulful eyes and loving personality.

Jenny set about winning Dad over; she accomplished this goal easily. Before long, she was following him around the house hoping that he would take her with him if he went out in the car. Soon, Dad would call, "Jen, want to go for a ride?" She would come running, excited to accompany Dad wherever he went.

She was always one to try to please; training her was a very easy task. She learned very quickly to let us know when she needed to go outside. In fact, she would grab the leash and bring it with her!

That was quickly followed by many other tricks, such as singing with me to get some table scraps at dinner. She also learned to wait until she was given permission to eat her favorite doggie treats; she loved to perform for our friends and relatives when they came to visit!

We praised her when she was finished performing her repertoire. I would pick her up and whisper, "I think you're part dog and part ham!" She wagged her tail in agreement.

When she was very young, she developed a quirky habit. She was so anxious to please that if she thought someone was angry with her, she would roll on to her back, with her paws in the air. She would remain in that pose until she was sure she was in the clear.

One day, she was out in the backyard with Dad. She always stayed with him because they had become fast friends. Always protective of us, she took off after a squirrel that was trespassing in her yard.

She headed directly for the street that was congested with after-school traffic. Fearing for her safety, Dad yelled, "No, Jen, no!" as he ran after her. By the time he arrived, Jenny had stopped traffic in both directions! Dad ran to the front of the school bus, and found Jenny lying on her back, paws in the air. He scooped her up in his arms, and waved his thanks to the bus driver and the other driver who had stopped for our Jenny.

Jenny also had a sense of humor. The one thing my parents were adamant about was that Jenny not sleep on our beds. Of course, Jenny, Mary Lou and I had different thoughts on the matter. So, at night, when we crawled into our beds, Jenny would jump up with one of us. We'd try to be as quiet as we could. But that was only a delaying tactic. Once Jenny heard them coming upstairs, she'd jump down, quietly growling to herself, grumbling about being disturbed from her sleep! She would crawl under the bed and wait until the coast was clear, and then she'd jump back on the bed. I'm not sure if my parents knew this was happening, but if they did, they allowed it despite their protestations.

When Jenny left us at the age of thirteen, we were all heartbroken; Dad was the most devastated of all. When I went home to see my parents, Dad had tears in his eyes, unable speak. He and Jenny had developed a special love for one another. Not only was she this man's best friend, he was hers, as well.

Jenny taught us about unconditional love, friendship and loyalty through her shining example.

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