In May 2021, I was frantically typing out two essays and re-checking my work on my math final on the last day of the semester. An episode of Newhart droned on the TV as background noise. I was alone in the house, and I was in the zone.
Until my mother came in and disturbed my perfect solitude. “Annie,” she said, “We brought home a surprise for you.”
“What is it?” I replied, not taking my eyes off my laptop screen. She had been unusually long picking my brother up from school that day, so I figured she had gone shopping or something.
“Well…” she said, smiling, “you have to go outside for it. It’s out there.” A feeling of dread washed over me. “What could it be? I know you didn’t buy me a car.”
“Go outside,” my mom said in a lilting tone.
Oh no, I thought, getting up from my work. Whatever’s going on is going to be a huge interruption. I walked out of the house and down our long driveway to the backyard, and there, by the big tree, stood my brother, Jack. Holding a leash. Which was attached to a little brown puppy, sniffing around the vast trunk.
“No,” I said, almost whining. “No, no, no! Why? You didn’t!”
“But she’s so cute! Look at her, Annie!” cried Jack, picking up the dog and looking all of eight years-old rather than eighteen.
My mother just laughed and agreed with him. After a weekend of tears, dismay, and festering annoyance, it became clear to me that if we took the dog back now, we’d look like the biggest heels in the greater Philly area. So, I reluctantly agreed that we could keep her, and the little brown puppy became our Sally. Let’s be clear. Sally is a troublemaker, just as I suspected. She sniffs everything. She tears up pillows and couch cushions. She refused to wear the Halloween costume we bought for her. Somehow, she digs out old toys that no one has touched since 2006 and chews them to shreds.
Jack has called her a “holy terror.” But my family – including me – loves her anyway. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little fond of her, despite my teasing remarks calling her a “dumb dog.” But it’s all in fun – and she knows I can be trusted to take her on the longest walks, longer than anyone else in the family. At the end of the day, I understand why they say that every family should have a dog at some point. With her big eyes, floppy ears, and wagging tail, my mom says that Sally would be a shooin for Best in Show at the National Dog Show if they had a “friendliest dog” category. What’s really cool is that this year I’ll be attending the Dog Show at the Expo Center in Oaks this year, so we’ll see how some of these prominent show dogs stack up to the wonderful Beagle mix I’ve got at home.
And on Thanksgiving Day, Sally, the family, and I will be watching the special broadcast on NBC. I may have to fend her off while I’m eating, though…
• The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show is set for Saturday and Sunday
November 19-20, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. https://nds.nationaldogshow.com/
• The National Dog Show Presented by Purina airs Thanksgiving Day on NBC from noon – 2PM in all time zones.