My Mom would always jump right in and fight with us. Then my Dad would step in and settle things. He used to laugh all the time saying that Mom was just as bad as us kids. He would say instead of correcting us she would join in on the madness. I remember Mom would always say, "You just wait until your father gets home." This usually ended any fighting and we'd share whatever we were fighting over.
Then the day came when my parents decided to get a dog. As you can imagine finding one that we all liked wasn't going to be an easy task. Being in a large family like mine we couldn't go to a pet store and buy one. We had to look for friends whose dogs were having puppies or one of three shelters where people would bring pets they could no longer take care of.
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. I thought my Dad was going to change his mind and tell us we couldn't have a dog. Then one day when he came home from work he was caring a small box. We were all excited because whenever Dad brought something home it usually was special.
When he sat the box down we all rushed to see what was inside it. There, in the box was the most perfect dog any of us had ever seen. She was a beautiful Labrador. She was the prettiest red color I'd ever seen. Of course we'd never seen a Lab before. My Dad said she was the runt of the litter and the owner was going to give her away. My Dad heard this and asked if he could have her. The owner said yes. We named her "Brownie".
Brownie turned out to be more than just our family pet. She loved each and every one of us even though we treated her differently. What I mean is we all did different things with her. One of us would walk her, another would feed her, then there were baths, combings, playing catch the ball and many other games.
One day, as I was getting her food, she chewed up one of my Dad's shoes. I knew Dad would be mad and I had to let her know what she did was wrong. When I looked at her and said, "Bad Girl", she looked down at the ground and went and hid. I thought I even saw a tear in her eyes.
I felt so bad I went looking for her. I found her under my bed hiding. I called her out and she came to me, tail between her legs. She had never been hit or even yelled at in her life. Again I felt like crawling into a hole. I forced a smile and said, "Good Girl". That was the day Brownie smiled. Yes, you heard me right. Brownie would smile when she was happy.
Many years latter we ran into the man that had given her to us. When he saw her, his eyes were big as saucers. He couldn't get over how big and beautiful she had turned out. This man was a breeder and he said he only wished one of the other dogs in the litter had turned out like Brownie.
Brownie went everywhere with us. People everywhere would stop and ask if they could pet her. Of course she'd let anyone pet her. She was just the most lovable dog. I recall many times when we'd be out walking and a small child would come over and pull on her hair. She never growled or tried to get away. Funny thing is she would smile. This scared people because they thought she was bearing her teeth. Far from the truth, she loved everyone.
If there were one thing that most touched my heart was when she would go to whomever was sick and just be with them. We all always felt better when she was around.
Then the day came when she could no longer walk. The Vet told us that she had grown faster than her tendons. He said it was only a matter of time before she would have injured herself. We tried everything to get her back to heath. She had two operations where the doctor put new tendons in her legs but she wasn't long for this world after the first operation.
She never did walk again and we built a stretcher that we could put her on to pick her up. Then two of us would carry her out so she could go to the bathroom. We could see the spark go out of her eyes more and more each day. Finally, one morning we had to call the vet. He came over and told us that Brownie was dying. He said she was in a lot of pain, even though she never cried out. The best thing we could do for her was to put her to sleep.
As we were all crying, my Dad told him to go ahead and do it. Before he did, we all took turns saying our goodbyes to her. Then the vet opened his bag and took out a needle and gave Brownie a shot. The last thing Brownie did was smile and she went to sleep. The vet said he'd be back in about an hour to get her.
Brownie was cremated and she is still sitting on my mothers' fireplace watching over all of us. Someone once asked me if I thought their pets would go to Heaven. I have to say yes. If ever an animal deserved to go to Heaven, it was Brownie. So Brownie, I know your up there playing with all the children. Some day we'll see each other again and I'll be looking for your smile. Thank you God!!!
Copyright © 2007 Richard Causey