A three year-old named Hanny with sproingy curls and sticky fingers pointed at an adorable puppy wriggling inside the cage. It cuddled against her hand through the bars.
Hanny’s mother corrected her. “Not an otter, Hanny, that’s a puppy.”
“I know dat. His name is Otter.”
Hanny’s family brought Otter home that day. He stayed in Hanny’s lap for the entire ride.
They were the best of friends; it was something they didn’t have to become; they simply were best friends from moment one.
Otter grew much faster than Hanny did. That summer, she toddled to keep up with him, but it wasn’t many years before they were running together. They drank deep of summer and investigated crickets and beetles, drank from lemonade pitchers and swimming holes, and basked in the warmth of long suns and roaring bonfires.
Puppies and little girls grow at different speeds: between Hanny’s youth and Otter’s sickness, there were only three summers where they could run at full speed together.
Hanny cried when he passed, and she asked why she had ever met Otter if he was to leave her so soon. The pain in her heart, which she believed would be on her forever, lessened with time.
Eventually, she grew up and after her mind made memories of children and grandchildren, the time between memories of Otter grew longer.
And many summers later, when Hanny’s granddaughter was three, Hanny took the child to get a puppy.
The little girl scrunched up a puppy’s face with her hands. The puppy licked her face and she giggled.
And Hanny remembered. She remembered her first and best friend, remembered the long days of summer spent running and laughing without a care in the world, and the cool evenings cuddled together with a wet nose in her lap.
And now that she was old, Hanny decided it was better to love.
The little girl smiled. She looked up at her grandmother and pronounced her pet’s new name, “Puppers!”
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