“Where’s Skippy?” I asked Grandpa. He frowned and said slowly, “Your mom will tell you about him, when she gets home from work.”
My mother worked at the canning factory because all work was part of the war effort and because we needed the money. Standing on her feet for 8 hours tired her out, but she always smiled when she saw me and Skippy. While I waited impatiently for her to get home that day, Grandpa tried to distract me with a game of Chinese checkers.
She must have known before she went to work what was going to happen that day, but she hadn’t said a word to me. I threw myself at her when she stepped onto our wooden front porch.
“Mom! Skippy’s gone. What happened?”
She sat on the porch chair and held me. “Do you remember the other day when the mail man said Skippy bit him?”
“Yeah, but that was a lie. Skippy would never bite anyone.”
“I know, dear, I know. He was a good dog.”
“Why isn’t he here?” I demanded again.
“Well, the mail man complained to the police about Skippy and although we argued that he was a good dog, they believed the mail man.”
“So we have to keep Skippy locked up when the mail comes?” I asked.
“Oh, honey.” I could see her brown eyes glistening with unshed tears. “They took Skippy away and we will never see him again.”
Grandpa came out on the porch. “It’s a terrible thing. I never want to have another dog.”
“I know Dad. It’s heartbreaking to lose a dog.” Mom tried to smile at me, “Skippy is in a wonderful place, but we'll miss him.”
I was too little then to understand exactly what happened to Skippy, but I was told repeatedly that we could never have another dog. Until one day, months later…
My friend, Scotty, told me his little rat terrier’s puppies were ready to leave home and I could have one for only a nickel. Excited and forgetting about the ‘no more dogs’ rule, I stopped at his house after school to see the squirming, little bundles of joy. One in particular kept licking my face as I held him.
I raced home and asked Grandpa if I could have a nickel to buy my Mom a ‘puppy” for Mother’s Day which was the coming Sunday. Grandpa thought for a minute, then pulled a nickel from a pocket in his workpants and said, “Be sure to pick out a fresh one.” I ignored this strange comment and happily went back to Scotty’s to pick up this special gift for my mother.
Grandpa’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw my wriggling purchase.
“I thought…I thought…” he gulped, “you said ‘poppy’ not puppy.
And that’s how the ‘no more dogs’ rule was broken at our house. Tiny as he was, he had a large enough spirit to fill all of our hearts, though he could never take the place of my first love, Skippy.The End