The Terrible, Terrible Day
by M. Robbins
“Everything about today has been terrible,” moaned Happy as
he sat trembling on a table in the vet’s office waiting the doctor’s
presence. He lifted one paw hesitantly from the table’s smooth
surface as he thought how nice it would be just to jump off and flee
from the room, but Happy placed his paw back on the counter.
“My whole family is here. I just can’t run away.”
Despite his fears, Happy slightly wagged his tail as he looked at
the group surrounding him.
First, there was Mr. Newman. He was a large man who had wide
shoulders but a small waist. His head was strange in that he didn’t
seem to have much hair. What brown hair he did have seemed
to resemble the color of Happy’s own curly hair. Happy didn’t
know yet what Mr. Newman did all day, but Happy knew
Mr. Newman left the house early each morning and came home
smelling like leather footballs.
Next to Mr. Newman stood a lady. Mr. Newman called her
“Marie” and the two kids called her “Mommy.” She had
the length and texture of brown hair which Happy desired:
long, silky, and wavy. Happy didn’t mind that her eyes were
green like a cat’s or that the ring on her left hand had already
been entangled in his fur. She had a way of saying, “Puppy,”
which made him all tingly inside. He did think it was kinda
funny that her waist was a little larger than Mr. Newman’s
waist, but Happy thought it was all right. It helped to cushion
the baby which Mrs. Newman now held in her arms.
Next to her wiggled a boy who wore a “I’m Ten” shirt and
was absent-mindedly fingering a loose tooth while at the same
time trying to untie his sister’s green hair ribbon.
“Ouch!” Amy protested as the ribbon refused to be pulled
away from her hair. Amy swung her arm around and gripped
the hair ribbon which was now snagged in her red curls.
“That hurts, Jason!”
“That’s enough, Jason,” Mr. Newman sternly spoke as he
glimpsed a twinkle in his son’s black eyes. “Amy might be
only nine years old, but remember, you can’t out run her.
Now, if you want to act silly, Jason, you can just sit out there
in the waiting room while the rest of us talk to the vet.”
Jason looked at Happy and slowly placed both hands in his
already stuffed pockets. It wasn’t every day that he got
to show off a new dog.
Happy again wagged his tail as he looked at his newly
acquired family. Three days ago he had been a lonely dog.
He had been longing for someone to love him. He had been
so unhappy that no one cared about him. Now, he had a
family of five now to care what he did and a family to love him.
Yes, the past few days had been wonderful. “But everything about
today has been terrible,” Happy repeated as he relived the present
The day had started off wrong with a car ride. Oh, sure, the ride
had been a joyous affair for Amy and Jason, but Happy had been
terrified by every minute. While they sang songs like, “Jesus Loves
Me,” Happy could hardly breathe. Each second in the car had
only reminded him of the other time he had been out for a car
ride. That car ride had left him standing lonely beside a
Happy shuttered again at the though of that “other” car ride. Then
he walked slowly across the examination table and licked
Mr. Newman’s left hand which rested upon the counter top.
“This man is different. He would never leave me. He loves me.”
Then Happy’s brown eyes gazed at the blue colored leash which
Mrs. Newman held. That was another of today’s terrible things.
One part of the leash was in her right hand and the other end
was attached to something which encircled Happy’s neck.
The thing around his neck felt tight and somehow kept him
from moving too fast and too far.
Happy knew he had been wearing it for only about 40 minutes,
but he already hated the thing. “I can’t even see the thing,”
Happy wanted to wail.
“It’s a funny feeling....being happy and scared at the same time.
Yet, that is just the way I feel,” Happy thought to himself. Then
the door opened and that was really all Happy officially
remembered in sequence.
Somehow his mind got muddled at the sight of the doctor entering
the room and the events became fuzzy.
Happy knew when he was being poked...but for how long?
He remembered his mouth being closed by the doctor, but Happy
didn’t actually remember his mouth being opened.
He remembered hearing the words, “Nice doggy. Pretty....,” but
Happy didn’t hear what came after the word “pretty.”
Fortunately, the examination was quickly over and Happy felt
himself being taken off the table. Jason carried him outside and
gently began whispering in Happy’s ear. Happy didn’t catch
the first sentence or two which Jason spoke, but Happy heard
what he considered to be the most important words in the
world, “I love you, Puppy.”
Then Jason said them again, “I love you, Puppy.”
The ride back home went fast. In the front seat, Mr. and
Mrs. Newman spoke of worm pills, obedience training, and dog
In the back seat, Amy retied her hair ribbon and Jason sang a song
he had composed for the occasion of owning a new dog.
“Oh, my Puppy,
Oh, my Puppy,
Oh, my Puppy, Puppy dog,
How I love you,
How I love you,
How I love you,
In a queer way, the car ride ended too quickly and they
were home. The door opened and Happy was led into
the back gate. Amy gently took his leash, blew him a kiss
and ran into the house, her green ribbon falling off onto
Jason rubbed Happy’s hair against the grain three or
four times and ran after Amy, tucking her ribbon into
Mr. Newman parked the car in the garage and walked
out carrying a gray trash can.
Mrs. Newman walked into the house with the baby. But she did
promise Happy “something special for being such a good dog.”
Happy wearily sank onto the ground. He was dizzy with
the emotional happenings of the day. He was too tired to think
anything clearly. He looked at Reddy as the Irish setter walked
up to sniff him. Then Happy closed his eyes and slept.
Reddy stood watch over his new friend. The sounds of dinner
plates being carried into the Newman’s dining room and being
placed on the table brought Red’s ears up, but he continued
to stand guard. The delicious smell of baked chicken made
Red’s stomach rumble, but he didn’t move. His friend needed
Finally, Happy moved and opened his eyes. He shook his
head once to see if the thing the Newmans had called a
“collar” had disappeared while he slept. But it definitely
hadn’t budged. Happy sighed and looked at Reddy.
“Reddy, why has today been such a terrible, terrible day?
I mean, I didn’t know being loved could bring about such
Reddy slowly licked his left, front paw as he thought about
Happy’s question and wondered how he should answer.
Suddenly Reddy found himself questioning Happy. “Do
you really, really think that today has been terrible?”
“Do you really think the car ride, getting that collar placed
around your neck, and the visit to the vet has been so
terrible? You don’t understand. All those things have been
wonderful! You need to see them as being marks of love.”
“Marks of love? I was scared and this collar is still trying
to keep me from breathing. If the Newmans love me so
much, I don’t see why today even had to be,” pouted Happy.
“Now, listen, Happy,” Red sternly spoke.
“The collar shows you belong to the Newmans. It will help
identify you if you should ever get lost.”
“The visit to the doctor was meant to make sure you are well
and will stay well.”
“And the ride in the car,” Red hesitated. “Well, it was just
something you had to endure. What you have to understand
is that you belong to someone now and that love has to act
now and then.”
Happy had never heard of such things. “You mean I went
through all this because I’m loved?” he asked Reddy for
“Yeap,” Reddy said. “If you weren’t loved you would be roaming
the neighborhood without a collar around your neck and without
anyone to give you hugs and kisses.
Just then, the backdoor opened and out rushed Amy and Jason.
‘Hey!” yelled Amy, “I bet our new Puppy would like to go for a
walk around the neighborhood. I’ll go back and get the leash.”
“Jason,” called Mrs. Newman as she stood just inside the
back door, “go ahead and take Reddy with you.”
With the sound of those words, both dogs rushed to the gate.
And Happy began to think that his terrible day was now just great!