From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul


I was late for the school bus and rushing to get ready. My dog, Tippy, ran past me. What’s your big hurry? I wondered, annoyed. It wasn’t like he was late for the school bus like I was. When he got to the front door, he laid down in front of it—his way of asking to be petted. I ignored his shameless begging for affection, hurdled over him and sprinted for the waiting yellow bus.

That afternoon, I jumped out of the bus and dashed up the driveway. That’s odd, I thought. Tippy was usually outside, barking an entire paragraph of “hellos” as soon as he saw me come home. When I burst through the door, the house was quiet and still. I dumped my coat and backpack on the floor. Mom silently appeared. She asked me to sit down at the kitchen table.

“Honey, I have some sad news that I need to tell you. This morning, while you were at school, Tippy was hit by a car and killed. He died instantly, so he didn’t suffer. I know how much he meant to you. I’m so sorry,” said Mom.

“NO! It’s not true!” I was in shock. I couldn’t believe her. “Tippy, come here! Come on, boy!” I called and called for him. I waited. He didn’t come. Feeling lost, I wandered into the living room. He wasn’t on the couch, so I had no pillow for my head while I watched cartoons. Mom called me for dinner and I rambled to my place. He wasn’t hiding under the table, so I had to eat all of my dinner. I went to sleep that night, but I didn’t cry. I still couldn’t believe that he was gone.

When I got off the bus the next day, the silence grew deafening. Finally, my sobs bubbled up and erupted like lava from a volcano. I felt like I was also going to die from having my insides shaken apart, and I couldn’t stop crying or end the thoughts that kept going through my head. I should have trained him better. If I had been home, I could have called him away from the road. I didn’t even pet him when I left. How could I have known that was my last chance? I cried until I felt hollow inside.

My parents bought a new dog named Tinker Belle. I didn’t care. I was busy giving hate looks to people speeding in their cars. They shouldn’t drive so fast that they couldn’t stop when they see a dog in the road. My parents still got the silent treatment from me. Why hadn’t they made sure that Tippy was tied up? I was mad at Tippy for getting killed, and I was mad at the entire “dog kingdom” for not knowing enough to stay out of the road.

I didn’t share my dinner with our new dog. She was too small to be my pillow for television, and her bark was squeaky. When she begged for attention, I pushed her away. I spent a lot of time alone, feeling sorry for myself and wondering, Why did this have to happen to me? What am I going to do now? Why did Tippy have to die?

Time passed, and against my will, I started to understand some things. It felt like waking up a little at a time. I realized what little control any of us have over what happens to a dog. Sure, we can train them and tie them up and do everything right, but bad things can still happen. And, in spite of us, good things can happen too. That’s life. The best way to deal with the hard times is to figure out what I need to do for myself to get through them when they come, and to remember that hard times pass.

I also discovered that my capacity to love didn’t die with Tippy. I became awfully lonely when I was trying to harden my heart. I began to realize that there were good things about Tinker Belle that were different from the good things about Tippy. I couldn’t rest my head on her little body, or pretend to ride Tinker Belle the way I had done with Tippy, but I could fit Tinker Belle into my backpack and carry her around.

I learned that I need to pet my dog whenever I can— and to really enjoy my time with her! Now I pet my dog slowly when I have the chance and quickly when I’m in a hurry, but I never leave the house without petting her.

I now deeply understand the “Circle of Life.” Everyone is born, everyone dies, and that’s the way it is. If dogs never died, there would be no room for others like Tinker Belle . . . and her five cute puppies!

Best of all, I realize that Tippy left behind all of my good memories of him. And they come to me every time I call!

Christine Armstrong

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