It was a beautiful day for a walk. The sun was out, the skies were blue, and Mylo was behaving. Ah yes, nothing better than a stroll through the neighborhood without a large white puppy jumping on your back or chewing on your floppy ears. What more could a big brown dog ask for?
While it truly was a gorgeous day, there was also a strangeness in the air. The streets were quiet, not even a single peep of birdsong. It was like a ghost town. Mylo seemed to notice it too, but for some reason, he hadn’t mentioned it, which is unusual, because that rambunctious puppy has no problem expressing his feelings.
“Hey Old Lady! Why do you think Mommy didn’t want to come with us today?”
Perhaps I spoke too soon. Mylo stared over his shoulder at me. He had started the trip out all smiles and happiness, but as the journey wore on a scowl had formed and had now grown into a full-blown look of concern.
“Don’t know. Maybe she wanted to work a little more. You know how she is; she likes to work even on her vacation.”
The creases on his forehead grew ever deeper as he thought about my hypothesis. I could see his synapsis firing, trying to work out the details of the scenario’s feasibility.
“Hmmm, that makes sense. She is a weirdo like that, but why didn’t Rapi want to come?”
Oh, this puppy! Why always with the questions? Why, just for once, couldn’t he simply enjoy the beauty around him, maybe relish the joy of strolling down the sidewalk, or perhaps enjoy our companionship.
“Maybe he just didn’t want to hear Charlie the bulldog insulting him about his waistline!”
He shot me an unnerving look. His eyes were narrowed, and his brows furrowed.
“We already passed Charlie’s house and he wasn’t even there. While I am at it, there is no need to snap at me!
There was a definite edge to his tone. There was a part of me, and I mean a big part of me, that wanted to express my frustration with him. Ultimately though, the tiny part of me won out. The segment of my personality that reminded me he wasn’t intentionally being a pain in my tail.
“Sorry, Mylo. I didn’t mean to get so testy. So, the truth is, I don’t know why Mommy and Rapi didn’t want to come with us.”
That was a lie of course. I knew full well why, and as we rounded the corner and our home came into view, I knew that in just a few moments he would know as well
We stood in front of 6 Autumn Lane, staring down the driveway. The whole scene left a weird vibe. It was like a pause for effect in some television show or something like that.
“Well, we gonna stand here all day or what?” I barked.
Daddy got the hint and we started forward. Both Mylo and I stood still while Daddy unhooked us and pulled open the gate.
“Well,” Mylo looked at me.
“You first, I insist,” I said, taking a step back.
The puppy smiled at me, then trotted through the gate unaware of what awaited him on the other side.
Standing in front of us were all our friends from the neighborhood. Mylo’s eyes grew wide. A tiny grin formed on his lips. Behind us, a flock of birds landed on the top of the fence and began to chirp out an oh-so-familiar tune, which all our friends, and even I, joined in the singing.
“Happy Birthday to you!”
Mylo spun around and looked at us. His eyes misted over.
“Happy Birthday to you … Happy Birthday dear Myloooooooo!”
His grin turned into a full beaming smile. The puppy’s tail began to uncharacteristically flop back and forth.
“Happy Birthday to you!”
The entire gathering of cats and dogs … birds and people … and even a mouse, erupted into applause.
I think this was the first moment I have ever seen Mylo speechless. He stood motionless, soaking in the moment. His eyes closed, and a single tiny teardrop rolled down his cheek.
“Thank you. Thank you all!”
He spun and looked directly into my eyes. In that second, I saw something shift in him. The experience had changed him somehow.
“Happy Birthday Mylo, how does it feel to be a one-year-old” a big wooly sheep dog cried out, then head-butted the white puppy.
“Thank you, Rufus, it feels … the same,” the birthday boy answered.
Standing next to me was Rapi. Alongside the orange cat was Daisy, our tall brown and tan dog friend. One by one, everyone in the neighborhood greeted Mylo with kisses. Gus, our neighbor Mr. McMurtry’s Bassett hound, was the first. A long line had formed behind him, all waiting to greet Mylo. Even Charlie the bulldog was there and thankfully, he refrained from saying anything about my large orange cat friend’s belly, and Rapi was grateful for it.
Long after all the pizza bones were gone and the cake had been eaten, after all our friends had said their well wishes and departed for home, the white puppy trotted over to me.
“You knew, didn’t you Cindee,” he asked, tilting his head to the left.
“I did! It was so hard hiding it from such a smart dog like you.”
He took a step back and gazed at me. He wore a strange expression on his face.
“You said dog. You have never called me that before. I m a puppy Cindee, remember?”
I smiled warmly and then corrected him.
“No, my dear friend. You aren’t a puppy any longer. You are a dog! A handsome, intelligent, and loyal dog who is my best dog friend … and my brother!”
Standing face to face, he looked down into my eyes and then lowered his head to kiss me on the nose.
“I am so happy Mommy and Daddy adopted you,” I confessed, holding his gaze a little longer.
“I love you Cindee!”
“I love you too Mylo. Happy Birthday!”
Calm happiness washed over him, and he sat down next to me. Together, we remained in silence watching the sun set, turning the sky into beautiful shades of orange and blue. In that quiet place, we let the moments of the day seep into our hearts and enjoyed each other’s company. Many memories were made today. Many happy memories.