My first puppy was something that I had begged for longer than I can remember. Every Christmas, I hoped I would see a tiny tail wagging under the tree, or hear a squeaky little bark from under the boughs weighed down with ornaments. I hoped for so long. One Christmas I got a life-sized stuffed dog that my little brother had spilled the beans about. He told me, “I know what you got for Christmas, it’s a puppy!” and he made me skeptical of surprises for the rest of my life.
One year, around winter time, my family and I went to a big “trade days” flea market. Every time we went, there were puppies for sale, and sometimes there were puppies who were mutts and needed a home just as well (since this time I have been warier of such places and prefer to adopt pets from shelters or rescues when possible). Every time, my eyes bulged out of my head and filled with tears as I walked past all of the fluffballs on the “doggie row” of tents. This year was different. A little ways away from the other puppies, a small collapsible kennel was set up that had a sign reading “free puppies.” In the kennel were the cutest mutts I have ever seen. They had the splotchy coloring of a Catahoula and the faces and body types of a lab, and I HAD to have one.
Somehow, my parents finally gave in–on one condition: I had to carry the puppy all the way back to the car and home, and if I could hold on to her, I could keep her. I scooped up the cutest one in a hurry and locked the bend of my elbows around her armpits. She was so warm and fuzzy against my tiny 7-year-old frame. I let her hind legs droop down and her belly stuck out while I picked her up to start carrying back to the car. It was the most exciting day of my life! We named her Snowball and she was the best dog in the world. I will never forget my first puppy, or how hard I worked to bring her home on that day!