When I was about six or seven, my grandparents still lived in town, just a few miles away. It was Valentines Day, or close to it, so they decided that warranted a trip to the local Toys R Us*. Our limit was ten dollars.
As I often did when entering this store, my small feet tramped directly to the stuffed animal section of the store. My brother probably went to find himself action figures. I don’t know.
After browsing for a little while, I found what I wanted. He was perfect. A stuffed dog with long, floppy ears, mournful plastic eyes, and legs long enough to hug. He was a light, ash brown and had a dark brown nose that I would later gnaw off because I’m weird.
Unfortunately, he was fifteen dollars, five over my limit.
I think my grandparents saw the love in my eyes. I can’t think of any other reason they caved so easily. I spent the rest of the day sliding down their tiled hallway with my new puppy and best friend, Pooch.**
Ever since that fateful day, Pooch has been my sleeping companion. Pillow or no, Pooch was -is- a stable in my bed. Over the years, he’s gotten a little ragged. His paws are slightly seared with the imprint of a hairdryer after I tried to dry him off after taking him to a swim-a-thon. His stuffing, or what’s left of it, is distributed either to his head or butt, as I’ve slept on him for so long his stomach has long been empty. His nose has only lining fragments of its old covering. His red collar is cracked and fraying. But I love him more than I can explain.
On trips, it’s almost impossible for me to get to sleep comfortably. I’ve gotten so used to Pooch that it’s hard to sleep without him. I will be bringing him to college, so why not make him my 7th and final item for my impending marooning? I mean, I have to sleep, don’t I?
*It’s now a Best Buy. *sad face*
**I was an imaginative little kid. I once had a baby doll called “Big Baby”