I stared at the largest coffee-colored eyes I had ever seen. I lost sight of him as he wiggled his body, weaving, almost mechanically, through his siblings. His large pink tongue flicked out of his mouth and took position there, lolling, as he wandered around with his foolish grin. I tried to keep sight of him, but it was hard; he seemed to have trouble keeping still for very long. He blended in perfectly with the rest of their dull shades of beige and cream. As they moved together, a mass of light-colored fur driven by the sound and smell of humans, I knew almost immediately that he would belong to me. When I finally got the chance to observe him up close, I noticed that he was much smaller than the others: the runt of the litter. I always had a soft spot for outcasts. When I ran my fingers through his thick, curly fur, his body responded in a way that made me laugh to myself. The moment my forefinger connected with his spine, his body would pulsate, starting with a shake of his oversized head until it ended with a short wave of his diminutive tail.
My brother stood next to me, amidst the sea of other people, who were here, I suppose, just like us, looking for a companion to bring home with them and keep them company at the moments when they were so lonely they couldn’t stand it. My father was around here somewhere, probably trying to negotiate with the owner on the price. Four-hundred dollars was pretty steep, even if it was for the cutest cocker-spaniel puppy I had ever laid my eyes upon. As I knelt down, my fingers still tangled in the fur of his back, I motioned to my brother to do the same, hoping to win over his vote on the runt as well. However, he seemed to be preoccupied. It looked as if he had his eye on the exact opposite of my claimed dog: the biggest, burliest, most rambunctious pup of them all. While my beloved puppy only had eyes for me, and I for him, his brother seemed to have managed to catch the eyes of about half of the patrons in the store. A crowd formed around him, wondering what it was that he would do next. As it seems, he was not one to disappoint. He meandered through the flocks of dogs and people, stealing kibble from bewildered children’s hands and knocking into the backs of legs of various inhabitants. When it appeared as if he would slow down, he did the unthinkable: he charged. Head down, feet splayed, crashing right into one of his unsuspecting siblings. This, of course, sent them tumbling, yelping, or understandably, both.
In comparison to that brute of a dog, the dog I had chosen seemed to be a saint. For the most part, he was relaxed and well-behaved as far as I could tell. And friendly; anyone who bothered to pet him received an amorous lick in return. However, since he was the runt of the litter, he was used to being left out. When the owner made his way over to the pens that held the dogs (with my perplexed father in tow), and kneeled down next to the bowls to feed the ravenous pups, I watched as my dog ecstatically squirmed out of my hands, only to be the last to reach the destination point, half-tails of his brethren wagging furiously, keeping him well away from the food he so enthusiastically desired.
At this point, I felt extremely bad that I had held onto him so tight, leading him to miss out on the feeding frenzy that his family seemed to be enjoying so thoroughly. I watched him as he stood in the back, futilely trying to force his way through. Every time he almost made an advance, he would be pushed back, waiting until one of them dropped a morsel out of their mouths, so he could desperately lap it up. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the other dogs seemed to have their fill of the food they received. My dog stood there at first, as they all began to move away; some back to their hopeful owners, others causing chaos as they ran amuck, looking for something to keep them entertained. It was a moment until he realized that they were all gone, the bowls mostly empty, but harboring some scraps of what they had left behind. He visibly pepped up then, and gobbled what little was left in the bowls in what could be most accurately described as a millisecond. When he was done, he scuttled his way back to me, dancing his special dance, glee splashed across his face.
It was then that my father joined us, seemingly deep in thought; his brow furrowed. I imagined he wasn’t able to do very much negotiating. After a minute, he seemed to have noticed that I was clutching to my chest, rather possessively, the beige and cream runt. He kneeled down too, patting the puppy on the head. The dog looked up at him with the same eyes that drew me to him, and I silently prayed that they would have the same effect on my father. My brother dropped to his knees as well, and took the puppy’s whopping head in his hands, massaging gently the huge curly ears that seemed to be too big for even his already large head.
After we had spent a while playing with the dog I had chosen, after some persuasion from my brother, we went to play with the monstrous one, who by this time had calmed down some and was allowing himself to be petted on the belly by some small kids. I begrudgingly relinquished my hold on the puppy I held, and watched as he switched away, his tail moving out of sync with his body. We waited a bit, until the kids were tired of their play and moved onto a different breed of dog. Before we even got a chance to grab hold of the fearsome ball of fur, a commotion somewhere in the center of the pen distracted us. A tall man stood there, shouting obscenities to the store owner, as the woman standing next to him flushed a deep scarlet. Kids pointed and laughed, and I saw, out of the corner of my eyes, a beige and cream blur shoot off in the distance, until he stopped, cowering and looking ashamed in the corner. I moved closer to the man, to see exactly what all the commotion was about. Under his seemingly new, white, and presumably pre-spotless New Balances, lay a huge hunk of brown goo.
The perpetrator was none other than the streaking ball of fur who I now refer to lovingly as Buddy.
Alanna Smothers is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AS620230@wcupa.edu.