my dog Trooper

my dog Trooper

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     Two memories stand out from when I was a kid. One was the day the Nintendo Entertainment System hit the shelves. The other was the day “a boy’s best friend” came into my world. Who would have thought that this day would become one of the happiest days of my life?
     It was in the middle of spring on a nice sunny day. I had just finished my last game from my recreational basketball league. Our team lost, but I put in my two points, along with two solid quarters of bench warming. I was never much of an athlete, but rather a “mathlete”. Regardless, I still had a lot of fun playing sports.
     On our way home from the game, my dad and I stopped at several pet stores. I was very confused. He neglected to tell me what we were doing, but I gladly played along. All together we must have stopped at four or five different pet stores. We bought a pack of dog bones, a dog collar and leash, dog shampoo, dog food, and a dog cage. Now I am not the kind of person to jump to conclusions, but I think I was catching on to something. We proceeded home after spending a near 200 dollars on dog supplies.
Once we got home, my dad asked, "Joe, What do you want to do today?" I could tell by the sound of his voice that he had asked a rhetorical question. Although at the age of eight I had no idea what a rhetorical question was, I knew he was telling me that we were on our way to the animal shelter.
My parents and I jumped into our 1989 blue Aerostar van. My brother was away on a camping trip, so it was just the three of us. The 20-minute drive felt like two hours, and I can remember every second of it. We drove up to the shelter on a smooth paved road that went up to a hill. An empty pasture was on our left side and an old cemetery was on our right. The shelter looked like a small prison. It stood alone in the middle of an open field, surrounded by fence. We jumped out of our van and headed up the walkway.
As we walked through the front door, we were forced to look at the cats. Walking through the cat section was the only way to get to the dog kennel part.

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It was similar to entering an amusement park through the gift shop. The cats all looked so cute, but that was not the reason I was there. We quickly headed toward the dog kennel.
All the dogs were barking and scratching at their cage. The dimly lit room smelled like wet dog. As we walked through the room, each dog had something about it that said, “I am not the one”. I could not understand why. It was like someone was leaning over my shoulder and telling me not to pick this dog. “This dog is too big” or “that dog sheds too much” and “those dogs are too wild”, “he barks too much”, “too loud”, and “too ugly”. There must have been over 50 dogs that we passed.
Finally, in the very last cage on the right sat a little brown puppy staring at me with big beautiful brown eyes. He had big floppy ears and white paws. While every dog around him was biting at their cage or barking excessively, he sat there quiet as a bunny. I could tell that he was very scared because he was shaking. Without a second thought I knew this was the one.
A shelter lady came over and asked, "Are you adopting him? We had been watching Socks for a while.” I thought to myself, “Who names their dog Socks?” That is quite possibly the worst name anyone can give to a living organism. I then recalled an old friend’s dog that was named Socks. I remember hearing “Come here Socks” as shivers went down my spine.
With all that behind me, I looked up at my dad. The grin on his face filled me with joy as he nodded his head up and down. A 500-pound weight attached to each of my cheeks couldn’t hold down my smile. I looked in the cage as he was still staring at me. It looked as if his eyes were growing bigger, like 2 rapidly inflating balloons.
"I'm afraid someone else was going to adopt him", the lady said. Right then I felt 10,000 needles simultaneously pierce my heart, as if God just struck me with lightning. My eyes began to fill up with water and tears fell down my face. I have never been as sure of anything in my life as I was sure that this is the perfect dog. It was too good to be true, but at the same time too horrible to imagine. "But they haven't filled out the papers so they haven't officially adopted him because the lady needed to ask her husband first, you still have a chance" she said.
Hope filled me up again and my dad looked at me and asked, "Should we?"
"Of course" I replied. My parents filled out all of the necessary paperwork. I continued to pet him until nearly all of his hair became stripped from his back. He was still shaking, but I could tell he was happy. He would have died if he had spent another day in that cage.
We took the shivering animal outside for a walk in front of the shelter. He didn't know how to walk on a leash since he was so little so we just socialized with him and got know him. I had to give him a new name because I would not be caught dead calling this beautiful animal Socks. He had this funny way of walking, similar to “trooping” across the ground. I quickly suggested, “Let’s call him Trooper”. Both my parents thought Trooper would be the perfect name. We all hopped in the Aerostar and headed home with our new adopted puppy, Trooper. I knew that this day would become one of the happiest days of my life.

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