Abigail was pulling the fluff off of dandelions in the back yard with her mother watching from a swing on the deck. Wisps of the downy seeds clung to her hair and clothes while the breeze tossed more into a cloud around her. When the fluff tickled her nose, her giggles carried beyond the boundaries of the yard and the elderly woman working in her garden next door smiled as she trimmed back the hedge. The large golden retriever puppy at her feet wandered over to the boundary between the two yards and paused before dashing across to Abigail.
The girl’s giggles escalated into shrieks of delight. The dog tackled her to the ground and the two began rolling in the grass and weeds. Lying on his back, the puppy exposed its belly for scratching, which Abigail was more than happy to do.
“Abby,” her mother shouted from her spot on the swing. “Why don’t you toss a ball or a stick for him to play with? There’s a tennis ball by the sand box.”
Abigail ran to retrieve the ball with the puppy a few steps behind, its face dangerously close to her quick-moving sneakers. She tried to hold the ball out of the puppy’s reach but her own limbs were too short to be effective and his excitement gave him too much bounce. “Puppy! Stop!” she giggled. Finally she managed to throw the ball and he dashed off to fetch it.
He brought the ball back and put it down a few feet in front of her. She reached for the ball but before she could reclaim it for another throw, the puppy had snatched it up in his teeth again. “Hey! Give me that.” She reached out to take it from him but hesitated when her hand got closer to his mouth. He dropped the ball and slobbered on her chubby fingers.
“Mommy, he’s tickling me!”
Abigail laughed as he continued licking her, reaching her free hand down towards his feet where she was able to get ahold of the moist tennis ball again. She threw it with as much force as she could muster and it reached her plastic slide in the distance. Her mother got up and headed quickly into the kitchen as Abigail wiped her slimy hand on her pants. Looking up to be sure she wasn’t going to get into trouble for such forbidden behavior, Abigail noticed her mother’s absence and ran towards the house, the puppy once again at her heels.
She reappeared at the door with a familiar red box in her hand. “Would you like to give the puppy a biscuit? I don’t think Maggie will mind sharing.”
Abigail ran to take the biscuit from her mother’s outstretched hand and the puppy was right there to snatch it immediately away. He bolted back into the neighboring yard to bury his prize.
“Come back!” Abigail hollered after him. “Mommy, make him come back. I’m not done playing with him.”