A story dedicated to all foster children and those who care for them
Once upon a time there was a little girl who found a puppy. He was a cute little fellow with big brown eyes and floppy ears and a tail that wagged all the time. She loved him right away.
“Daddy! Daddy! Can I keep him?” she asked.
Her father sighed. “No dear. I don’t have time to take care of a puppy. I have to work and to take care of you.”
“But I’ll take care of him!” the little girl cried. “I love him! I love him more than anything in the whole world!”
“It’s very easy to love a puppy,” said her father, “but it’s very difficult to care for them. Will you walk him and feed him and brush him and play with him and keep him clean?”
“Oh yes!” said the little girl. “I love him very very much and I will do all of those things!”
“Ok, if you really mean it” said her father. But his voice was sad and his shoulders were slumped.
The little girl was very happy and she scooped up the puppy and took him home and played with him all afternoon. The puppy was happy too. He loved the little girl and would lick her face and nuzzle her hair and follow her everywhere she went.
For the first week the little girl took very good care of the puppy. She fed him and walked him and brushed him every day and bought him a beautiful new red collar to wear. At night he would sleep in her bed and she would whisper “I love you puppy” before they fell asleep.
Then, one day, the girl got a brand new video game which was very exciting. She had lots of fun playing the game and forgot to feed or brush her puppy that day and they didn’t go for a walk. She still told him “I love you puppy” at the end of the day. The puppy whimpered a little because he was hungry but he still loved the little girl and licked her face and nuzzled her hair.
The girl felt bad about what she’d done so the next day she fed him twice as much and took him for a longer walk than usual. She was going to brush his hair too but since she was tired after the long walk she decided to skip it. “I love you puppy” she whispered as they fell asleep.
As the weeks went by the little girl tried to remember to take care of the puppy but sometimes she was playing with her friends or playing with her toys or watching something on TV and just forgot. Other times she felt tired or sad or angry and so just didn’t feel like taking care of her puppy. And so some days she skipped feeding or walking or brushing him. But she never forgot to say “I love you puppy”. And it was true. She still loved him very much.
The puppy was often hungry these days but he still loved the little girl. Sleeping with her was his favorite thing to do. He didn’t mind so much that his fur got matted and stuck together and that his skin was itchy and that he started to smell bad. The little girl loved him and he loved her and that was enough for him.
Then one night the girl looked at the puppy who was not so cute now – his fur was no longer shiny or soft and although he was bigger he looked scrawny and dirty. His beautiful red collar was faded now and hung loose around his skinny neck. She began to worry he might give her fleas. Sometimes, when he was hungry, the puppy also whimpered during the night and that would annoy her. “I love you puppy,” she told him that night “but I think you can sleep in the living room from now on”.
And so the puppy slept in the living room on an old towel and although he missed sleeping with the little girl, he still loved her very much. When she would come out in the morning he would wag his tail and jump up and down and lick her hand when she would let him (She didn’t let him lick her face anymore). The little girl would sometimes pat him on the head and that would make him very happy. But most of the time he was sad.
It was harder for the little girl to remember to take care of the puppy now that he wasn’t in her room anymore. She missed feeding him more often and his fur was too matted now for her to try to comb it. Once in a while she’d still take him for a walk – if she was not too busy. She still loved him. She still said “I love you puppy” every night before she went to bed.
Then one day the little girl’s father called her into the living room. She knew right away she was in trouble. “Look at this puppy” her father said sternly. “He is a mess. He has scabs because you have not cleaned his fur. He is far too skinny because you are not feeding him. He is very sad because you are not playing with him and his feet hurt because you do not trim his nails or take him for walks. I see now that you cannot take care of this puppy. It is time for us to find another family for him. We can find a nice family who will take very good care of him and he will be happy.”
“No!” the little girl cried. “You can’t! I LOVE him! Another family could never love him as much as I do!”
“It is very easy to love a puppy” said her father. “It is very hard to care for them.”
But the little girl cried and cried and threw a terrible temper tantrum and promised her father a hundred different times that she would take care of the puppy from now on and so…finally…he relented.
And so the puppy stayed. And the girl loved him and he loved her. The girl sat down next to the puppy to think. It was bad timing that her father had brought this up now because she was going to be very busy for the next three days. She wanted very much to keep the puppy but she did not want to do so much work to take care of him. What could she do?
And then she had an idea. In the garage was a very large bag of dog food where she would take the puppy’s bowel to fill it up before she gave it to him. What if instead of taking the puppy’s food to the puppy, she took the puppy to the food? And so she went and got the leash, attached it to his collar and led him out to the garage. She tied the leash to a strong pole in the garage and then dragged the bag of dog food over to the puppy and opened it for him. “Here you go puppy” she said. “Eat as much as you want.”
As she walked away the puppy tried to follow her. The leash held tight but the collar was still loose so he slipped his head out of it and went running over to her to try to lick her hands.
“No puppy.” She said sternly. “You need to stay here.” She led him back to the pole and put his leash on again. This time she tightened the collar so that he couldn’t slip out of it. She put a large dish of water beside him as well.
“I love you puppy” she said. And it was true. She did love him. And he loved her. And then she left.
And she didn’t come back for three days.
And the puppy was very very sad.
And he was lonely.
And he was hungry.
And so he ate the dog food that was in front of him. And then he ate some more. And then he ate some more.
He had been hungry for such a long time that he didn’t know how to stop. And so he kept eating. And eating and eating. And he started to get fat in his belly and in his rump and in his neck. And still he kept eating. And the collar around his neck got very tight – so tight that it hurt him and cut him – and still he kept eating. And all the time he thought about the little girl and how much he missed her and how much he loved her.
And after three days the little girl came to check on her puppy that she loved very much – only now she didn’t have a puppy anymore.
And she cried and cried.
“I didn’t know!” she screamed when her father tried to tell to tell her what had happened. “It’s not MY fault! I LOVED him! I loved him more than anything in the whole world!”
But it is very easy to love a puppy. Anyone can do it. You don’t even have to try.
But it’s not easy at all to care for a puppy. It is very hard work and not always fun and sometimes you have to do it even when you’d rather be playing games or spending time with your friends. Sometimes you have to take care of your puppy even when you’re tired or sick or angry or sad.
And so the father felt sad for the little girl who had loved her puppy but he felt even sadder for the puppy who had loved his little girl right until the very end.