It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
-The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is the story of a girl and her dog.
But not just any girl. And certainly not just any dog.
Her name was Penny. And Penny was unlike her kind.
Yes, Penny shared the typical traits that made her worthy of being called a canine:
What made Penny so rare was that she could talk. And no, not in the way that talking dogs on YouTube howl incoherent sounds (don’t insult her, now). Penny spoke the language of dreams, the dreams of her six-year-old girl, Cheryl. She had quite some practice, after all; Penny and Cheryl spent days upon weeks upon years together, dancing around an imaginary world of “one day”s, “what if”s, and “let’s play”s. Penny could also tap into the language of the heart, standing in whenever someone accosted her girl with such abstract questions as, “how are you today?”
But Penny wasn’t just kind with words. She was also quite the daredevil, more courageous than Cheryl ever could be. Like when a teacher banned her from coming to kindergarten, yet she still hopped into her girl’s backpack, buried beneath books (sometimes the girl’s mom checked. Oops). It wasn’t Penny’s fault, you see. Honestly, it was probably the teacher’s fault for being less exciting than Penny, who always seemed to stand out in class.
Oh, class. Penny was a brilliant student; don’t let her four-legged position fool you. She sat in on so many elementary-level classes; pored over piles of books from Cheryl’s lap; even attended Sunday School with the other kids at church, her name shining with star stickers for stellar attendance.
But no star could ever outshine Penny’s presence. Penny had a way with people, so much so that her memories still linger in the hearts of many, twenty-some years later.
“Penny! I used her as an object lesson in my Sunday School class at Fil-Am over 20 years ago…Ha! I believe the lesson was on unconditional love….if I remember correctly, Penny was either missing an eye…or her eyes were so faded…she looked eye-less 🙂 Despite her physical appearance, she still was very special to you….you looked beyond the external and focused on how she brought joy and comfort to you….something along those lines….”
-Don, a past teacher
Cheryl loved Penny. And Penny loved Cheryl. Both, with all their heart.
They say you never forget your first friend, imaginary or not. And Penny was more than imaginary; she was a tangible, lovable, huggable pup, who gave all she had until her neck wore thin from expressive play time and her eyes scratched to white, all to live out the dreams of one very imaginative girl: a girl who grew up and forgot what it meant to be a child.
That is, until one day…
To be continued.
This post is dedicated to Penny, my beloved Dalmatian pup.
Don’t mind the loner sitting with a dog more boring than Penny beneath the table.