About two weeks ago Tess started reminding me that Valentine’s Day was coming up. Like any guy, that got me to worrying about what to get her.
I’ve already been through this with Tess before. She doesn’t like roses because she can’t eat them. She’d like chocolate, but mom won’t let us have it.
No sense in me getting her something pretty to wear because she already has the most beautiful coat I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for her long red curls. I went to bed last night wondering what I could do to make Tess happy.
It was still dark this morning when something woke me up. At first I wasn’t sure what I heard. Jack was snoring in the corner, Tess was on the couch in the living room. The sound was coming from where Nellie sleeps.
I held my breath so I could listen better. It was Nellie. She was making these funny little noises, like she was crying. I thought she must be having a bad dream, but the sounds kept up.
Real quiet without shaking my tags, I crept over to see what was going on. “What’s up, Nellie? I whispered.
“Oh Ash,” she said. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “Are you crying?”
I must have asked the wrong question because Nellie broke into deep sobs. I lay down next to Nellie and licked her ears.
“Nellie, you can tell me what’s wrong,” I said.
In the dim light I could see Nellie looking at me with her one good eye, her head still tilted from when she had the vertigo. “Tell me, Nellie,” I whispered.
“Oh Ash. It’s silly and foolish but I can’t help feeling this way. I’m an old dog. I’m lame and deaf and nearly blind. My head is crooked and I’m losing control of my poops.”
“This is probably my last Valentine’s Day. I don’t have that many months left. I just wish for once I could be special. I wish some handsome dog would choose me as his Valentine. You belong to Tess and Jack has no interest in me. There is no one for me, Ash!”
With that admission Nellie was exhausted. She put her head down on my paws and fell asleep. I watched her breathe and saw the last of her tears drip off her snout.
I thought about what Nellie said. We all know she is living on borrowed time. It’s a miracle she’s even with us.
I licked the salty tears off Nellie’s snout. Even though she was sleeping, I knew she felt my presence. I woke mom up and told her what had happened. We slipped out of the bedroom to talk things over. Tess heard us come out and joined us.
I told Tess about Nellie’s wish. I kinda figured Tess would make fun of Nellie, but she didn’t.
Tess took a deep breath and put her paw on my head like she does when she wants me to pay attention.
“Ash, this year you should choose Nellie as your Valentine,” Tess said. “I’m young and have a lot of years ahead of me. This may be Nellie’s only chance to feel special.”
I was so thrilled and proud of Tess. It was exactly what I wanted but was afraid to say. I quick grabbed a stuffie and shoved it at Tess. We started rolling around on the rug making awful noises. Mom was laughing. We were as happy as we could ever be.
Mom had a sappy Valentine’s Day card she’d bought for dad. I quick put my paw to it and scribbled Nellie’s name on the envelope. We found red ribbon to make a bow for Nellie. I grabbed a yellow flower that bloomed yesterday and put it with the card.
Next we found the perfect frozen turkey neck and wrapped it with a ribbon. We put the card, the flower, and the turkey neck on a silver tray. As soon as Nellie wakes up we’re all gonna sing “Sweet Valentine” to her and give her the presents. Later today we’re all going in the car for a drive. Me and Nellie will ride together. After all, she is my Valentine.