“Mom, Reagan needs to go out!” I shout into the kitchen.
“Not by yourself, Hillary, I’ll go with you in just a minute. I’m almost done with the dishes.”
Click, click, click… clack… clack… clack. Reagan paces back and forth, back and forth.
I am eight and a half. Certainly old enough to walk a dog around the block. Mom warns me that Reagan can be difficult to handle sometimes, but I know I am strong enough.
Reagan collapses in a heap of golden fluff in front of the door. Her dark eyes dart back and forth watching, waiting eagerly for the first sign of a willing dog walker. Once, Dad gets up to get a glass of milk. Reagan pops up tail wagging. When Dad returns to his newspaper, SLUMPH again.
That’s it. Enough is enough. I whisper to myself. I am strong enough. I can handle Reagan. She doesn’t need to wait another moment. I’m taking her for a walk. All by myself!
The water is still running in the kitchen. I tiptoe over to the closet, reach in quietly, and grab Reagan’s leash.
Reagan is thrilled to be outside; she prances like a grand stallion. I am proud as a peacock. I’ll walk the dog and be back home before mom even finishes her kitchen clean up.
From around the corner, Mrs. Henderick appears with her miniature poodle, Molly. I pick up the pace and hold my head high. Maybe we’ll stop and chat with her for a moment about the weather, just like Mom does.
I smile as we approach; ready to chirp out a friendly,
“Good Evening, Mrs. Hendrick!” when suddenly, Reagan darts towards them.
“Reagan, NO!” I shout pulling her back with all my might. She drags me down the sidewalk. There is no stopping her. I use all my weight. Reagan is in control now.
My mother’s warning rings in my head. Sometimes Reagan can be hard to control.
We speed towards Mrs. Hendrick like a freight train out of control. Molly starts yelping; she knows something is not right. My hand is throbbing. I can’t hold on any longer. Reagan runs free, leash flying behind her. Mrs. Hendrick scoops up Molly just in time, and Reagan soars right past them.
Mrs. Hendrick gives me a worried look as I sprint past. I’m desperate to catch Reagan, but she is gone… around the corner towards the park.
“Reagan, Reagan!” I shout holding back the tears that are stinging my eyes.
Not only was I not strong enough, I’ve lost her; she’s gone. The swings move gently in the summer breeze. The playground is empty and quiet. No children, no Reagan.
“Reagan, Come Reagan!” I holler again, wishing she would appear from behind a tree. I stop, wait but there is nothing.
I walk home shuffling my feet. What will I tell Mom and Dad? The tears run freely now. My heart is lost with Reagan.
As I turn the last corner for home, I see mom waiting on the porch stoop. My head drops. She was right; I am not strong enough.
All of a sudden, I sense movement from behind her. Reagan appears! … Tail wagging, leash still attached. The ball of fur sees me approaching, gallops goofily toward me and almost knocks me over wagging, licking, whining.
Mom stands to greet me with a warm hug.
“Thank you for walking Reagan,” she whispers in to my ear. “you took care of her when she needed it.”
I couldn’t find any words, but my heart is full.
Mom whispered again, “Tomorrow we can go together, you walk Reagan, I’ll just be there if you need me.”
Reagan wiggled between us, tail wagging. I pick up her leash and, altogether, we walk inside.