A Tail of Two Puppies

Katie Lew, Photo Editor

Sara Brownlee (12) excitedly shook around a rope above the heads of her two foster dogs, Uma and Cash. As she watched them jump up and down, desperately attempting to latch onto the toy, Amber’s furry face suddenly popped into Brownlee’s mind.

Amber, a mut, had been by her side ever since Brownlee was 3. The two shared an ineffably tight bond, almost to the point of understanding each other on a telepathic level. Amber was her constant companion, her everlasting partner-in-crime, her best friend. They were inseparable.

But, during the summer of 2021, Amber passed away.

Wearing Amber’s collar tag as a necklace, Brownlee kept the memento close to her, like a temporary solution to fill the hole in her heart. Yet, the chill of the metal dog tag resting on her chest served as a constant reminder of her loss.

It was difficult for Brownlee to hold up the rope any longer, feeling as though the weight of it kept getting heavier and heavier as her mind traversed further into her memories with Amber.

When her family had first decided to foster two puppies, Brownlee hesitated. She said she felt like they were trying to replace Amber, to forget her and move on. The jingle of Uma’s collar, the sound of Cash’s paws clicking against wood floors all reminded her of Amber. Even their little habit of squeezing their way through her legs as she stood near the kitchen counter reminded Brownlee of Amber, who used to do the same.

The guilt gnawed on her as the memories bubbled up inside Brownlee.

Yet, looking at how they like to cuddle, at the energy they possessed to bound across the field in her backyard, Brownlee realized Amber and her foster dogs were completely different animals. The way they chewed every object in sight, the way their young minds were still free from recognizing commands, Brownlee knew they weren’t the same.

Brownlee found herself warming up to the pair of labradors. Her hesitation to open her heart to the two slowly faded, reverting back to the vivacious animal-lover she is. The jingles of their collars would soon be followed by the chime of Brownlee’s necklaces. The clicking and clacking of the pair’s nails on the floorboards would soon be chased with the dull thumps of Brownlee’s pursuing feet.

Brownlee knew Amber was still with her, decorating that space in her heart with her honey-brown fur and the mint green blanket she always drooled on.

As Brownlee gazed down at the two pups, the metal of Amber’s dog tag felt warm over her heart.