Pennies from Heaven 1

If you were to ask anyone in my family who our favorite pet was we’d tell you that we don’t have favorites.  But if you asked us which pet had a framed portrait hanging in the dining room we’d tell you just one, Teddy Bear.  

Teddy Bear wasn’t our first dog and he won’t be our last, but he was the dog we grew up with.  He was a Spring Break “let’s just take a look” that turned into my dad leaving work early and the family driving to Atlanta Bread Company for ham sandwiches that could be shared with a new puppy.  He was named Teddy Bear because that’s what the little pile of black fluff looked like sitting in the back of the car.  But we also named him after Theodore Roosevelt – the Rough Rider, creator of national parks, and overall adventurer because this dog was going to be our childhood adventure pup. 

As a young dog Teddy did have a few adventures.  He almost got swept away by a flooded creek until I jumped in after him and carried him home.  He dragged one of my sister’s friends through a yard when she thought she could outrun him.  He chewed tables, books, shoes, part of our family car, and even a tube of Wet n’ Wild lipstick (a real loss for a middle school girl).  He spent an afternoon jumping on top of a tree because he didn’t like where it was planted.  He spent every school vacation on family trips to Virginia.  While there he ran across golf courses, chased deer, and was once caught launching himself into a neighbor’s koi pond.  But no matter where Teddy was, he would always come running through the trees when he heard “car ride!”. 

Teddy Bear was there during the awkward middle school years, the requisite high school angst, and even college and grad school.  He helped me move into my first apartment.  I once asked a date if he could save his steak bone (and a few scraps of meat) so I could take it home to my dog.  When that same boy stayed the night at my parents’ house a few months later, Teddy slept on the bed between us the entire night.  There could be no closed doors at night because he needed to be able to roam the house and check up on us.  When my mom had a migraine Teddy slept on the couch with her all day.  When my dad bought a boat Teddy let us strap on a life vest and went on the water.  And no matter the weather Teddy Bear was always ready for a walk.  

At 11, when Teddy should have been lounging and going on leisurely walks, we adopted a puppy and Teddy became a full-time big brother.  Teddy watched as all the rugs were picked up from the house to keep the puppy from eating them.  He started taking puppy training classes again because we were convinced Teddy was bored.  Teddy grudgingly accepted the new puppy riding in the car and sleeping next to him.  A new puppy was a new adventure for him, albeit a tiring one. 

When Teddy was 13 he was diagnosed with cancer.  My parents loaded him into the car for chemotherapy and called homeopathic veterinarians for recommendations on natural supplements.  We made special trips to Chick-fil-A and bought shrimp and salmon at the local fish store.  If Teddy was spoiled before, he was even more spoiled now.  And just like Teddy had kept my mom company when she was sick, my mom sat with Teddy on the couch when he was sick.  

Teddy fought cancer for a year.  The first time my mom took our remaining dog on a walk without Teddy she found a dollar at the end of the street.  During the first week of walks she found over $5.  We were never very lucky with spare change, but we now collect anything we find in a special jar.  It’s been three years and we haven’t decided what we’ll do with it yet.

Dogs are supposed to teach kids responsibility and patience and love.  But Teddy Bear also taught me the importance of family and coming home; to remember to check up on the people you love; to enjoy good snacks; and to always, always be ready for an adventure.  

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