The Family Dog
“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!” boomed my grandfather, jolting me awake. Quickly, I jumped out of bed and shook my older sister Courtney awake. My whole family was at my Grandparents house for Christmas. We had arrived at our Grandparents house the day before, Christmas Eve, and now, on the following day, we were opening our presents from our aunts, our uncles, and our Grandparents.
“Wake up, it’s time for presents!” I shouted loudly.
“Okay, I’m coming, you don’t have to shout,” Courtney responded sleepily as she climbed out of bed. When I got to the living room, where the presents were, my other sisters were already out of their beds, and waiting for us so that they could open the presents. Grandma and Courtney sorted out the presents, and everyone got some. Then we opened them up. All around me were the sounds of excited people shouting, “Look at what I got, Mommy!” the crackling wrapping paper, and many eager faces shining with excitement.
“Wow, Mary! Look at all your new toys! All of you girls got a lot of presents.” Mom said enthusiastically. I had to agree with her. All three of my other sisters had gotten a lot of presents, too, as well as me. However, I was envious of some of the toys that my older sister Courtney and my younger sister Rachel, had gotten. I didn’t say anything, though. I figured that ten years old was old enough not to complain about my new toys to Mom. Later, after we had had breakfast, we played with all of our toys. We noticed something, though; one of our uncles hadn’t given us a present. We were somewhat disappointed in him, but we didn’t say anything to each other or to anyone else about his lack of giving. After lunch, our cousins, Emma and Abby, arrived, and after supper they opened their presents. Then, Grandpa and Grandma came out with two little adorable black puppies.
“One is for you girls,” Grandpa said, giving one of the puppies to Mom.
“And the other is for you two”, Grandma finished for him, giving the other puppy to Emma and Abby. Abby, who was four years old, cried because she thought that one puppy was for her and the other puppy was for Emma. She was consoled, though, when her mother, our Aunt Wendy, said that the puppy would be hers just as much as it would be Emma’s puppy. Meanwhile, we were all astonished and thrilled. We had always wanted a dog, and now we had one. While we were still in shock, my uncle commented that he hadn’t given us any presents. He brought out a basket tied with a bow. It contained a leash and a collar, food and toys, and a book on training a dog. We all thanked him, and then started fighting over who would hold him. Courtney, ever the oldest, took the puppy and claimed that she should hold him first because she was the oldest. Mom wanted to take pictures of us in our Christmas dresses holding the puppy anyway, so we stopped arguing and waited patiently for our turn to hold him.
After the pictures were taken, we started discussing what we should call him. There was controversy between us here. “What about Purple Gurney?” Mary, my six year old sister, called out, “or Max?” Purple Gurney was a name that she had made up a few days ago on a whim. All of us disliked that name, and Max sounded too ordinary. We all continued to suggest names, which turned out to be very lame. It was Mom who finally came up with an answer. We all had recently watched the movie, Pride and Prejudice, and we had all enjoyed it very much. Our favorite characters were the two main actors, which were Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. We decided that since our puppy was a male, his name would be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and we would call him Darcy. Everyone agreed upon this name. We thanked Grandpa and Grandma joyfully, and then we went to bed, after feeding Darcy. The ride home in the car wasn’t boring. We all wanted to hold Darcy in our own laps. Unfortunately, Mom decided that for safety sake, Darcy would ride on her lap. I pouted about
this for a little bit; I didn’t think that it was fair that our dog should sit with Mom, but soon I forgot about pouting in the excitement of having a dog.
When we got home, we devoted a small closet to Darcy; we got him a pillow, and his own cage to sleep in. We bought him water and food bowls, and a brush for his teeth as well as one for his hair. We were so excited to have a dog that that night we found it hard to get to sleep. When we woke up, we were excited to see him still there; he wasn’t a dream. We got our pictures that Mom took of us with Darcy developed, and we hung them on the wall along the stairs.
We grew up with him. We taught him tricks, and we even danced with him. We all played with Darcy as he grew up, but he was special to me. I loved him a lot, played with him, walked him, kissed him, bathed him in our little wading pool outside, and brushed him until his fur was shiny and soft. We got a fence built around the yard, so that while we were doing our schoolwork and couldn’t be outside with him, he could go outside by himself.
When Darcy was a few months away from three, he got sick. His nose was hot and dry all the time, which indicated that he had a fever. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Darcy was tested for poison, or eating something that was contaminated, but nothing showed up. He was also tested for a number of diseases and illnesses, but these tests as well showed that nothing was wrong. Darcy was always hot, and it was summer, so he dug a big, round-shaped hole that he could lay in, under the thorny blackberry bushes in our backyard. When he lay under those bushes, no one could come to him because of the thorns, so it was as if he was doing his best to stay away from us.
About a week later, Darcy stopped eating. We tried tempting him with all of his favorite foods, like meat but it was to no avail. Once, we thought that he was getting better, because he ate a sliver of meat, but then he stopped eating and drinking. He got worse and worse. He avoided us, and he was so weak that he could barely walk. One night, I was sitting at my desk on my computer doing homework. My sister Rachel was doing her homework too. “Girls!” Mom called out suddenly from the living room, “Come here quick!” Her voice sounded fearful. Mom didn’t usually talk like that, so Rachel and I got up and hurriedly went into the living room to see what the matter was. Darcy was lying on our living room couch, and his breathing was very shallow. Rachel and I stayed there for a few minutes, to say goodbye, as his condition got worse and worse. Soon, it was hard to tell if he was breathing or not.
“Go back out,” Mom said, “I don’t want you to have to watch this.” Rachel and I went slowly back to our desks. However, I couldn’t concentrate on my homework, and I kept looking out at Darcy laying there on the couch. Then Mom called us again, and I knew that my dog, Darcy, was dead. I cried and cried. I couldn’t stop. I had loved him so much. We got Darcy onto some old sheets that we didn’t use anymore. Then Mom and I dragged the couch that Darcy had died on out to the driveway for the garbage men to take on the following day.
We buried Darcy in the hole under the blackberry bushes that he had dug. Somehow, it felt like Darcy knew all along that he would die. It was as if he dug that hole on purpose for his grave. It felt right to bury him there. I realized that when he was sick, I had known all along that he would die. I just wouldn’t admit it to myself. The day that my beloved dog died was one of the saddest days of my life. I will never forget him. I will love and miss him always.