We had driven to Oshawa—4-plus hours one way—to pick up Andrew’s puppy, a chocolate lab whom he named Shadow.
Shadow liked to nap in our school room while the scholars’ pencils scratched. She liked to explore the yard and when she got older, was exhilarated at the sound of Andrew’s gunshot. Andrew took her hunting, Megan took her running, the younger ones loved to play fetch with her.
A year later, a friend of ours asked if we’d house his puppy at our place. Shiloh, a chubby golden lab, made a good companion for Shadow. The children felt Shiloh sounded so much like Shadow (too many beginning consonant digraphs, I guess) so they called the puppy Little Bops, because he bopped his head up and down when he walked.
This summer they became two mischievous, naughty dogs who teamed up together to make an escape plan. Little Bops, who wasn’t so little anymore, unlatched the kennel gate, bit the lock on the cage latch, and with Shadow’s assistance, dug a tunnel under the kennel walls to freedom.
The dogs escaped soon afterwards with unfortunate results: they were hit by a car. Shadow was killed and Little Bops’ hip was shattered.
I did my best to comfort the girls who mourned with blankets over their heads when they heard the news first thing in the morning. Andrew bravely buried his smart, faithful dog.
Little Bops’ owner decided to have the leg amputated, and so began a summer of determined recovery for a three-legged dog who really appreciated our care and attention.