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BY VICKEY STAMPS
Tim and Mattie had struggled along since their marriage ten years ago, but togetherthey had managed to save, and finally had been able to buy a used home near the edgeof their quiet dependable little town. Timothy had come along almost five years agoand Mattie had become a stay at home mom. She was content in her role as wasTim, Senior. Now she sat across from the old woman, Martha, that lived next door. They’d becomegood friends over the years, and sat laughing now over Timmy’s newest adventures. He was in kindergarten now, and they wondered together at where the years had gone. Mattie reached across to scratch behind the ears of Tippy-Toes, the senior-citizendog of Martha’s. He was already seventy years old in human years, and ten yearsjunior to Martha. Martha still got tears in her eyes, as she would forget she hadtold the story of Tippy-Toes and how she’d come to have the old dog. Now she toldagain of how lonely she’d been when her husband Jed had passed on. One day he’dbeen fine and the next gone of a heart attack.
They had two kids but both lived too far away to visit often. They’d come and helpedas much as they could, and suggested she come and stay with them, but she’d refused. This had been her and Jed’s place and she wasn’t budging from it till she just had too.Still the days had been lonely and so she’d gone to the animal shelter. Perhaps therewould be a little dog there to share her days. There were lots of choices, from large, to small, and all kinds to pick from. She’d had a hard time making up her mind, when the old dog in the last cage hadcaught her eye. They told her he had been there for some time and was slated tobe ‘put to sleep’ within the next week. He hadn’t even been given a name. He wasn’tmuch to look at, this old lap dog with his graying snout. His fur was long and heseemed to have an abundance of it on his right side for some reason. He looked abit like a ship that had been caught in great wave…Sort of‘listing’ to the rightand might tip over if hit by a strong breeze. He lay to the back of his cage butrose now, as if sensing an interest in Martha as she had stood there. His soulful little eyes had looked up at her in question, as if to say ‘Will you takeme home?” She had done so, and never for one moment regretted it. He had filleda gap in her life and she loved everything about the ‘mutt’ she’d named Tippy-Toes. She still laughed at his ‘listing to the side’ and quiet mannerisms of behavior. Tippy-Toes had taken a liking to Timmy, and when they visited together, he wouldquiver in excitement at being in his company. Sometimes they’d just sit quietlytogether, sharing one of Martha homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, and watchcartoons as Martha and his Mom would visit. They were good times. The day came when Mattie had to make a dreaded call to Martha’s children. Martha’s memory was failing fast and it was becoming a danger to her to live alone.It made her cry when the phone was hung up. Martha’s kids promising to comevery soon. Mattie went over at least twice a day to check on her old friend. Martha was eight-five now. She knew something was wrong and had made Mattiepromise that she would take care of Tippy-Toes for the rest of his life, if shegot to the point where she couldn’t look after him. It wouldbe an honor Mattiehad told her, holding her close as the tears flowed from both their eyes. The kids had come, and Martha’s home had been put up for sale. Tippy-Toes seemedto mourn for her, but Timmy would pick him up and love him into a comforting stageand life went on. Other than school and its activities, Timmy and Tippy-Toes were inseparable. Once Timmy had come down real sick, and had been ordered to bedfor a week. Tippy-Toes had refused to leave his side, except for the necessary and occasional trips ‘outside’, then he’d drag his aging body upstairs to Timmy’s room, tobe picked up and entertained by Timmy. Now Tippy-Toes could hardly stand, never mind follow Timmy around. The gray onhis nose had long since extended itself onto much of the rest of his fur. His eyeswere glazed over, and he often bumped into the furniture around him. He hadn’teaten in three days. They’d taken him to the vet. There was little to be done, thevet had said. He’d offered to put the old dog to sleep, but they’d chosen to take himhome and say their goodbyes. They’d shut down the television, wrapped Tippy-Toesgently in one of Timmy’s old blankets and in turn they had each held him and saidtheir goodbye’s. They laid him gently in his old heavily padded bed and made him comfortable. The next morning they found he’d fled their world. He would be somissed. Several months had passed. Timmy had begun asking about another dog. “Nothingspecial” he’d said. He wanted to have a little dog like ‘Tippy-Toes’. Tim and Mattietalked it over. Timmy’s birthday was next week. Maybe they could find anotherdog and make it their gift to him. Love lived in their home and surely it couldsupport a little dog. The birthday boy had opened his gifts, and had his cake and ice-cream. It wasalmost time for his friends to go home. Tim, Sr., came in with a small cardboardbox in his arms, and placed it on the floor, beside Timmy. A whining sound camefrom within it. Timmy jumped down off his chair, quickly opening the flaps ofthe box, to find a tiny dog so full of fur he could hardly see the 4 small legs andwagging tail that came with it. It was turning in excited circles upon a crumpledup old shirt beneath it, jumping up and down, then against the sides of the box. Timmy hugged the puppy to him. “Happy Birthday Timmy. What will you call it?”Mattie had asked, as Tim, Sr. had watched from over her shoulder, a big smile onhis face. ‘Little Bit’ Mom. I’ll call him Little Bit. I think he will be a little bitlike Tippy-Toes. Perhaps the fur would grow thicker on Little Bit’s right sideand he might look as if he were listing to the right. Time would tell. Right now, it was a sure, and certain thing, that…LIFE WAS GOOD