“So cute… but don’t come home with another dog!”
It’s big beady eyes watered as it shook in the 12 year old girl’s hands. In her arms, the chihuahua fit perfectly against her chest.
“But mom! Look at her! She’s so sad. She needs a home.” The little girl winced, on the verge of whining.
“Bethany, I know it’s been hard since we lost Remi. But we cannot have another dog just yet. We came here for cat food for Tux. Don’t forget about him.” Bethany’s mom was frustrated. It was the day before Thanksgiving and she had hours of errand running left to do in the day.
Bethany sighed and held the puppy up to her face. The puppy’s legs punctured outward in an uncomfortable position. Still shaking, she stared at Bethany, as if pleading for help.
Parting from her mom, she began walking the dog back to the puppy pen. Now, her eyes were watering with the sadness of letting her new friend go. She stalled at the gate, giving the chihuahua a final hug.
The worker watching over the puppies approached Bethany: “Are you planning on buying this pup? Or do you want me to put her back?” Bethany stuttered, and before she could finish her sentence, a women approached the other side of the pen. It grabbed the workers attention, so she made her way over to help the new customer. Bethany saw this as a chance: no one was looking. She hid the dog under her coat and anxiously went to find her mom.
Bethany spotted her checking out at the only open register. As she briskly walked by, she said, “I’ll meet you in the car mom.”
Worried she drew suspensions, she peaked back at her mom giving her an approving nod. The dog was still cuddled in the warmth of her jacket, and now had successfully escaped the pet store.
She opened the car door and was finally able to take a breath. Committing a crime and rescuing a puppy was a lot for a 12 year old. Not to mention, the risk of getting caught by mom.
“What should I name you?” The puppy stopped shivering, and was now more lively than before, “maybe Muffin? Yeah, I like muffins. I’ll name you muffin.”
Bethany spotted her mom exiting the store and making her way towards the car. They were still planning on shopping for the Thanksgiving meal after this stop. Bethany wondered how she was going to keep the pup a secret. Plus, she couldn’t leave her in the car alone.
Mom opened the car door and let out a huff. Bethany hesitated before she asked, “do you think I could go home? I don’t feel good.” Her face burned read with guilt. She was never good at lying.
“What? Really?” Her mom realized the disappointment in her tone, so she prefaced: “I can take you home. Dad should still be there so he can watch you.”
On the ride home, Bethany made sure to keep Muffin covered with her coat. She sat in the back seat, as she wasn’t tall enough to ride in the front yet, so it was not too hard to hide the dog from mom.
“Sorry we couldn’t get the dog sweetie,” her mom begun to feel bad, “maybe sometime in the future, but not right now. Plus, we are not prepared. We would need to get all the dog necessities all over again.”
Bethany’s eyes widened. She panicked: she had not thought about dog food. Let alone, all the supplies you may need for a dog.
“It’s… okay mom,” Bethany was trying to keep cool.
They did not talk much on the way home. The hum of the radio filled the quietness in the car. Familiar trademarks on their way home flashed by the window. Bethany recognized the blue painted corner store that bordered her town. Muffin, who’s eyes were comfortably shut, rested on Bethany’s lap. Her gentle belly subtly raised up and down during her nap.
They pulled into their driveway. Bethany waited until Mom went to the back to unload the few groceries they had gotten before scurrying into the house. She ran by the living room and up the stairs to her bedroom. Muffin did not seem to mind the sudden chance in speed. She stayed relaxed against Bethany’s favorite blue sweater.
“Okay Muffin. This is my room. Stay here while I get some water.” Bethany ran down stairs to gather a small bowl and a bottle of water. As she was going back towards the stairs, she saw a half opened bag of beef jerky on the counter. Assuming that was similar to dog food, she grabbed the snack as well.
Back in the room, Muffin had made herself at home on Bethany’s bed. Bethany poured out some water into the dish and tucked in her closet.
“You are going to live in here Muffin.” She filled her arms with dirty clothes and old toys in order to clean out the closet for Muffin. She found a small dog bed that used to be Remi’s.
“Are you home, Bethany?” Her dad could be heard from downstairs.
“Yeah! Just a second.” She placed Muffin in her new dog bed. The chihuahua did a few circles, pawed the gray fabric, then nuzzled into the corner.
“Stay here, Muffin.” Before going downstairs, Bethany gave Muffin a kiss on the top of her bony, soft head.
She closed the door part way and hopped down the stairs. From there, she could see an abundance of dark figures moving outside of the front door.
She stayed frozen in place as she muffled: “Dad. . .”
“Bethany!” He hollered from the kitchen, “let in Aunt Bea. She called and said they would get here early.”
“Oh no.” Feeling weary, she opened the door. Standing in the doorway were her Aunt Bea, followed by another one of her aunts, two uncles, and four cousins.
“Bethany! It’s so lovely to see you.” Aunt Bea barged into the room. The line of her family members followed closely behind. Bombarding her with greetings, each family member gave Bethany a big hug. Normally, she would be excited to see them all. Though, she was now worried: how was she going to keep the dog a secret with so many people in the house?
Once the heap of relatives filed into the kitchen, Bethany went upstairs to check on her secret new puppy. Pushing the door open, she did not see Muffin on the dog bed.
“Muffin?” Bethany called out for her softly, careful not to tip off the people downstairs. She knelt down next to the closet and shuffled through boxes and clothes. Then, she checked under her bed.
“Muffin!” She could not find her. Bethany grasped her head with her hands in a panic.
“Aaaaaaah!” Aunt Bea screamed from downstairs.
“Since when did you get another dog?” Billy, one of her cousins, asked.
Bethany’s dad responded, confused: “We didn’t. . . Bethany? Can you come down here please?”
She was still frozen in place, but knew she could no longer avoid the confrontation. Bethany slowly walked downstairs, and found all of her relatives lined up behind the kitchen island. Her dad stood in the entryway holding Muffin.
“Do you have an explanation for this?” Dad did not seem that frustrated; he was mostly still confused.
“Well. . . I saw her at the pet store and tried to convince Mom to get her. But she didn’t. Then Muffin looked at me all sad and I had to take her home. I had too!” Bethany tried explaining herself, but did not receive any approving looks.
“Muffin?” Dad pointed out that she had given the dog a name.
The room was silent, except for the whispering among the cousins. She could see them chuckling behind their parents. Aunt Bea gave them disapproving looks, and she went over to Bethany’s dad: “I think Muffin is a great name! Why don’t we go out and get some food for her?”
“What?” Dad clearly disapproved, “we have to take the dog back.”
“No! Please, Dad! I’ll do anything.” The front door opened again, and mom walked in with her hands gripping grocery bags: “What the–” She spotted the dog. All of the commotion overwhelmed Bethany, and she began to cry.
“I just wanted another dog.” She tried to explain.
Her mom and dad exchanged sympathetic looks. Then, her dad admitted, “Muffin is a pretty cute dog.”
Mom stepped in: “I do miss us having a dog.”
Bethany was shocked by the lack of disapproval: “Can we keep her?”
Her mom responded: “I suppose why not.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Bethany was overjoyed.
“But, we have to go back to the pet store and pay them for the dog. Okay?” Dad compromised.
“Okay! Let’s go!” Bethany put on her boots and grabbed Muffin, “You are staying with us, Muffin. You are home!”
As the stress in the room settled, their cat, Tux, joined them in the kitchen. At first, the cat weaved in and out of many legs in the room. Then, he spotted the new addition to their family. Now, Tux was the one frozen in place. All eyes fell on the cat.
“Aww, poor Tux.”
The cat hissed and left the room. Tux disapproved of Muffin, and he was determined to make sure they were reminded of that for the rest of their lives.