‘How could she have left someone so adorable behind?’
‘Beats me. She’s going to send for him in a few months when she has the money.’
‘I’d pay any amount to make sure that he got home with me.’
Delia buried her hands in his wiry, white fur and brought her nose level with his. The dog patiently waited for her to restart her gentle massaging of his body and back while Delia made sweet, appreciative noises concerning his docility.
‘Well, he’s mine for the next couple of months, so feel free to visit him as you like.’
Sharon watched, eagle-eyed, as the twelve year old snuggled up to Grover the Pekinise. They made a good match; his calmness and her bubbly enthusiasm. Perhaps Sharon could convince Penelope to let him remain in this country; the quarentine alone would be a major stress for poor, placid Grover.
‘Can I walk him?’ Delia’s eyes were bright with pleading innocence and Sharon felt complelled to nod her head in compliance.
‘He needs to go out for a good walk twice a day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. I take him across to the field when I can too.’
‘I’ll check with my Mum. I might be allowed to help out after school.’
Sharon smiled. It would be nice to have Delia’s help, although she wondered how long it would be on offer once the wintery weather began to set in.
Grover yelped with delight as Delia picked up his ball and started up a game of fetch across the garden. Often he wouldn’t chase after the ball, instead tilting his head with a patronising glare as you tossed the ball away as though he were mutely saying ‘you go fetch it, you threw it’. But, with Delia he played amicably.
Sharon was glad that Delia lived next door and that Grover had finally discovered an acceptable companion. Although she was happy to house him since the death of her minature poodle – Dolly – Sharon couldn’t bear to bond with another dog, no matter how adorable. She suddenly wondered if perhaps encouraging Delia’s fondness was cruel if Grover was to be returned to Penelope in Australia. How would the poor girl react if she were to lose her new found friend. Sharon pushed the thought away, deep into the recess of her mind alongside her mournful rememberance of Dolly. Every child needed to understand the heartache of loss at some point. It would teach Delia to appreciate what she had and how to cope with losing something you loved.
‘Are you okay Sharon? Have you got something in your eye? It’s watering.’
Sharon reached up to wpie the tear away. ‘It must have been some dust in the breeze. Not to worry.’
Delia smiled and went back to playfully teasing Grover, his gentle bark reminding Sharon so precisely of Dolly. Suddenly she felt the aching need to ensure that Grover remain close to Delia in a household that loved him and treasured him, rather than one that believed he was a commodity to be left behind and sent for when needed. Slowly, Sharon felt her heart open up a little bit to the possibility not of replacing Dolly but of sharing this love with another pet in deference of what Dolly had provided her over all those years of comaraderie. She felt a compulsive urge to call Penelope up and make a compelling argument as to why Grover would be better off here, with her and his new companion, Delia. Sharon watched the two of them rolling around on her lawn together, Delia laughing and Grover wriggling. If Penelope could leave Grover behind in the first place, surely she would be able to replace him just as easily. As Delia had said: ‘How could she have left someone so adorable behind?’