Full House

Reggie looked like a puppy again. He lowered his head, licked bits of snow and came up with snow clinging to his nose. At 13 years old, he’s definitely getting up there in years. His colors aren’t as defined; the grey almost overpowers the reddish brown in some places. But he’s still a puppy.

JuneBug, on the other hand, shivered from her spot on the path between the porch and the driveway. Last winter was her first experience in snow, and a limited one at that.

Reggie welcomed it and JuneBug didn’t know what to do.

Ollie would have been out there tonight bounding through the freshly coated lawn. His ears would flop and he’d come back to the house with snow balls clinging to his furry poodle legs. I wish I would have seen that tonight. Ollie loved snow, too.

Grady will be out there playing soon. Finlay will join come Christmas Day.

Our house will be filled to the brim with brothers, significant others and canine companions (not to mention our two feline friends).

Maybe it’s all been a dream and Trevor took Oliver back to Long Island with him and never told us. Ollie and Finn will fly out of the car as soon as the door is opened. We’ll be so happy to have a complete family. Oh, and maybe they’ll have Papa with them, too. I know Papa would love JuneBug.

We’ll have a full house soon. And I’m definitely not complaining.

I’m actually wishing it could be filled exactly to the brim as it should be.

My little brother named Ollie

“Here’s our new puppy!” a seven-year-old Emily exclaimed as she plopped a fuzzy, black unidentifiable creature onto the family room table.

All three of the boys leapt up in surprise from their scattered positions around the room.

We took the cock-a-poo outside and let him run around while we tossed around possible names.

“How about Oreo?!?” I remember shouting out. He was black and white; it made perfect sense to me. But Mom really liked the name Oliver. We would call him “Ollie” for short.

***

The list of nicknames grew.

We called him “Ollie Dolly,” “Dollar Bill,” “Dolliver” and he came to be known to Dad as “Little Fern,” though we’ve never known why.

Reggie and Ollie got along famously. Even our then-cat, Pumpkin, didn’t seem to mind the new addition.

“How many animals do you have?” they’d ask me at school. “Two dogs and a cat” was my go-to answer. I was five when we got Reggie; I didn’t know anything different.

***

Here I am 11 years later, stuck 11 years in the past.

Taken in May of 2012.

“Ollie has diabetes really bad and Dr. Inkley’s recommendation is to put him to sleep : (,” came a text from my mom at 12:09 p.m. yesterday.

I bawled.

When I’m at school, everything is supposed to be okay at home. I’m supposed to pull into the driveway after weeks of being away and be greeted by the same three dogs every time. Nobody’s supposed to die. Everything should be exactly the way I left it.

***

Robby drove me to the vet after my last first class of the day.

“The weather outside is perfect today,” I mused as the rain drizzled and the windshield wipers wiped. I lost it a couple of times.

When we arrived at the vet’s office, Dad greeted us and took us to the back. Mom stood there, holding a dog who had lost 40 pounds in the past three months. His cataracts clouded his vision, but we kissed him and passed him around, getting our final pets and pats in while we could. (“Meow, meow” went a cat every couple of seconds to which Adam said, “If that cat doesn’t shut the fuck up I’m going to put it to sleep.” That made us laugh.)

I bawled when Dad held his puppy; he was losing his first dog, too, not to mention his yard work companion.

“There’s a very slim chance he could be treated and be back to normal,” the vet said when he joined our pity party. “When a pet’s at this age, I’d rather let him/her go peacefully than try to be some kind of hero.”

Mom bent over Oliver and reassured him that everything was going to be okay.

“Tell Papa we say hi,” Dad told him.

“He’ll have treats for you, bud,” I said.

And after a very quick injection, Ollie’s breathing stilled.

***

Ollie was as much of a brother to me as my human ones are. He kept me warm at night (though my brothers didn’t necessarily do this), he protected me when I needed it and he loved me unconditionally. And even though at age 11 he still was not completely potty-trained, I loved him despite the presents he left me in my room.

It won’t sink in until I pull into the driveway and see Junie and Reggie, but no Ollie.

It won’t sink in until I check his crate and see that he’s not snoozing there.

It won’t sink in until I go home and fail to hear a scratch from him at the front or back door.

I have dreaded Monday since I was a little girl. My family and I grew extremely attached to this little black bundle of fuzz. He seldom gave kisses, but when he did, they were sweet, not slobbery. Cute, not overwhelming.

I miss you, Ollie Dolly. I wish you could have lived forever like I wanted you to.

Alone

Some people my age might be a little frightened to be home all alone, but I really enjoy it. For a few hours, I can do what I please, which is mostly just writing and reading, but without ANY interruptions. Another plus about being by myself is that I don’t have to fight the urge to burst out in song. I can walk around the house belting my guts out, and not feel self conscious at all. The place I usually sing my heart out is in the shower, but when nobody is around I belt it out wherever. I can sit here at the computer desk, and sing as I type.

Sometimes I feel stupid and wonder if the neighbors can hear my voice, but honestly, who cares if they do? Are they going to come up to me and tell me that they heard me singing? Probably not. I do my best singing when I am all by my lonesome, with only my two dogs and cat to keep me company. They are the only audience that really gets a taste of my voice.

Now, what is it that I sing when I am alone? Well, I belt out whatever meets my fancy. Mostly it’s some Paramore, but we musn’t forget Evanescence, Flyleaf, 1997, Automatic Loveletter, Hawthorne Heights, t.A.T.u., New Years Day, Garbage, and Autumns Monologue by From Autumn To Ashes. I love singing Paramore songs because Hayley’s voice is much like my own, and I love trying to match Amy Lee’s voice whenever I sing My Immortal, Hello, or Lithium. I find it challenging to sing Lacey Mosley’s parts, but I have fun trying.

One of these days, I want to put videos of me singing on YouTube. I like listening to other girls my age singing some of my favorite songs, but I cannot help but think that I could do a better job than they can. Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to prove myself, but I doubt my mother would approve of it. I will probably have to wait until college to begin videotaping myself singing.

Once they pull out of the driveway, I open my mouth and out comes something not very many people have heard. I sing rather conservatively in public, but when I am in the shower, or home by myself, I let it all out. I love getting home from camping because then I can finally lock myself in the bathroom and get all of the singing out I couldn’t do while we were all camping together. I hope to someday make a career out of this little hobby of mine. Only time will tell…