A Dog Named Grace

Joseph Anderson Donetti looked at Mom. “I want a dog!” he repeated.

“What?” Mom asked. She picked up the teakettle from the stove and shook it to see if there was any hot water left in it. “I must have arrived in the middle of this conversation.”

“I don’t think that matters,” G.M. replied with a twinkle in her eye. “‘I want a dog,’ is the only answer Joseph has given to any question that he’s been asked this morning.”

Mom filled the teakettle again and put it back on the stove. She sat down beside G.M. “So,” she asked, “is Joseph getting a dog? I always wanted a dog, but you never let me have one when I was growing up. You know, a dog would be a great home-school project,” she went on. “Joseph could take it to obedience classes.”

“Oh, that would be really fun!” Mac exclaimed, her curls bouncing. “Could I go with him? It’s too bad they don’t have obedience classes for cats! But maybe I would learn something in the dog classes that I could teach Mabel! Maybe she could learn to walk on a leash, and we could take your dog and my cat walking together!”

“We’d have to go to the Humane Society,” Mom continued. “We can’t afford to buy a fancy-breed puppy.”

“What’s the Humane Society?” Joseph asked.

“I know! I know!” Mac jumped in. “It’s a place that has dogs that people don’t want anymore. And you can go there and pick out a dog for free.”

“Wait a minute!” G.M. put up her hand. “There is no such thing as a free dog. Dogs eat dog food, you know. And dogs have to go to the vet’s and get exams and shots. Vets and shots are expensive!”

“You could give me dog food for my birthday!” Joseph said.

“It’s not anywhere near your birthday!” G.M. objected.

“I’ve been making pretty good tips at the restaurant,” Mom said. “Maybe we could use some of my tip money for dog food.”

Joseph looked at G.M. “If Mom will buy the dog food, then you could give me shots for my birthday! I don’t mean give me shots, I mean give my dog shots. For my birthday. An early birthday present!”

“And when someone asks what your grandmother got you got for your birthday this year, you’re going to say a rabies shot!” G.M. sputtered.

Mac burst out laughing. Mom laughed. Joseph did not.

“OK. OK.” G.M. sighed. “Here’s the deal. Joseph feeds and walks the dog and cleans up all its messes. And takes it to obedience classes. We’ll use tip money for the dog food, and I will pay the vet bills.”

“Do you mean it?” Joseph shouted. “Do you really mean it? I really can get a dog?” He jumped up and gave Mac a high-five. “I get a dog! I get a dog!” He turned to G.M. “When?”

“Is right now soon enough?” G.M. asked, pushing back her chair and standing up. “That is, as soon as we get dressed? We’ll go to the Humane Society before we eat. I didn’t really want to fix breakfast anyway.”

Joseph’s smile covered his whole face. He practically glowed. Even his eyebrows looked as if they were smiling. He gave G.M. a giant hug. “Thank you!” he exclaimed. “Thank you! Thank you! I’ll take really good care of him. I’ll be very, very responsible!”

G.M. hugged Joseph back and kissed the top of his tousled hair. “I believe you,” she said.

“Can I go too?” Mac asked. “Can I go to the Humane Society with you? You wouldn’t want to go without me, would you? Anyway, I have to live next door to this dog. I want to make sure you pick out the right one! It has to be a dog that will get along with Mabel! It would be horrible if you got a dog that chases cats!”

“Mac, we wouldn’t even think of going to the Humane Society without you!” G.M. assured her. “Go, ask your mom if it’s OK with her.”

Mac grabbed her umbrella and banged out the back door.

G.M. looked at Joseph. “You didn’t even use some of the really good arguments,” she said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have given in so soon.”

“What do you mean?” Joseph asked, puzzled.

“Well, you didn’t mention that your dog would undoubtedly be a wonderful guard dog. And that we probably need a guard dog since our house is filled with so much valuable art painted by a very famous artist. You didn’t mention that a dog would be a great friend to play with while your other friends are at school having recess. You didn’t mention that a dog would look really good in a family picture!”

Joseph stared at G.M., speechless.

Mom wasn’t. “So why didn’t you come up with all those good reasons when I was a little girl and wanted a dog?” she demanded.

G.M. smiled at her. “I don’t know,” she said. “I can’t remember. But I think I have a name already picked out for this new dog. I think we should call her Grace.”

Continued next week

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