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A Short Story

Amelia Cooke

I swear, this is a true story.  So you don't believe in reincarnation --- many do not, but at the time I brought home a St. Bernard puppy, I began to think there was something to it.

This was at a time after my husband passed away and I was left to bring up four children --- two in grammar school, one in junior high and one in high school.  I also worked graveyard shift.  My husband had always watched them at night which now was one of my problems.

One of my customers said I should have a dog to guard the kids while I worked and he knew of a friend who was going to give away a puppy who would make a good watch dog.

"Great ! " I said, so the next afternoon, I took along my younger son, and drove my VW van to the local shopping center to meet him. It was more or less a half-way point between our homes. My son waited in the van while I walked over to the entrance of a market where he waited with the dog.

He had him on a leash, and the "puppy" was already the size of a medium full-grown dog. But he was friendly, and I liked him. The puppy's name was Tokie. So along with Tokie, he handed me a bag of dog food and I thanked him for thinking of me in my time of crisis. I would not have to worry about my children when I worked.   My oldest boy was more than capable of baby-sitting the rest, but now I had an extra degree of protection for them.

I walked the puppy back across the parking lot to the van, and before I got there, Tokie was already getting excited and waging his tail.  He strained on the leash as he hurried to the van  ( how he knew where, or which car, I was headed toward was a mystery to me )  but as soon as I opened the door, he hopped in and began licking my son's face --- just as if he knew him as a long lost friend.  Needless to say, my son was as happy as the dog !

Tokie made a big hit with my family and after introducing him, I went into the kitchen to put away the bag of dog food. When I returned, I asked where he went, and my daughter said he went into the hallway. I decided I better check to make sure he didn't have an "accident" on the carpet, since he was still just a puppy.

When I started checking the bedrooms of the children, I didn't find him, so I went on to mine.  I had rearranged the furniture after my husband's death, to more or less take away the pain of seeing it just as it was when he died.   So to my surprise, the puppy was sound asleep on the section of the floor that had formerly contained the bed, and the exact spot which would have been the side of  the bed where my husband slept.

Later on when everyone was settling down in the evening to watch television, Tokie trotted over to my husband's favorite chair, perched himself  on the chair cushion, and stared at the TV. The children laughed at that, with one of my son's saying, "Look, he thinks he's Dad ! "

As time when by, Tokie grew bigger and bigger until he was nearly the size of a calf.   He was still a good-natured dog, but his antics were getting a little strenuous on my budget. The fenced in backyward was big enough but the fence was rather old, and when he found a loose board, he would start to chew on it, then growl and pull until the board came out.  He would then run around the yard shaking it as if it was just a stick !

Eventually he became too hard for the kids to handle when they took him for a walk. He ended up seeing another dog or something of interest and wanted to chase after them. Many times the younger ones had been pulled off their feet.

I guess the last straw of my patience ---which at times was running out after working the night shift and raising four children --- was the time I thought Tokie was in the backyard, when we were going on a visit to my sister's house.  Instead, he had been accidently locked inside.

Our living room window was a tall "Picture-Window" type that overlooked the street by the house.  In front of it, I had my sewing machine, and when not in use, I covered it with a fringed shaw, placing  a potted plant on it.

Apparently, hearing the engine of the van starting up, Tokie gave a flying leap to jump on top of the sewing machine to look out the window. Needless to say, that was a bad mistake    The force of his leap and the smooth scarf just hurled him into and through the window.  Luckily, he was not hurt at all and came trotting up to the car as if nothing happened.   As for me, I was stunned and stared at the broken window, with dollar signs going off in my head at the expense of replacing it.

At any rate, within the next few months, I had changed to a day-shift job.  I began to think that since the whole family was gone during the day,  and although we loved him, I would have to give Tokie up to someone else.  So I decided to call a local pet shop for some advice, when the owner suggested I bring him to the shop.

I thanked him, and said I would ---- but did I think first?   Noooo.    I put Tokie in the car and took him to the pet shop.  He was very cooperative until I opened the door of the shop.

Did you ever walk into a pet shop??   A pet shop with cats, dogs, birds, hampsters, rabbits and other miscellaneous animals?   It is not quiet, it is noisy with the various barks, meows, and chirping.

Tokie stopped dead in his tracks and his head swivelled from one side to the other as he eyed the inhabitants of the shop. Then his big bushy tail began wagging as he hurried down the aisle to check out each and every one of the pets.  I was on the verge of a panic attack thinking of the damage he was about to do, when the owner walked in from the back room.

Well, much to my relief, the owner fell in love with Tokie and decided he wanted to keep him for his own.  He had a ranch outside of town and would take him there.  After saying good-bye and giving Tokie a hug, I left him in better hands and in a better place than I was able to provide.

I was glad to have him for the time I did, plus the love and entertainment he provided for my children and me.  And the best thing  --- Tokie had helped to ease the sorrow after my husband's death.

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