From the time I was 7 or 8 years old, I have loved dogs. Both sets of grandparents had dogs, and I loved to play with both Birdie and Fluffy. As an only child, I viewed the dogs as playmates and spent a lot of time with them

In any case, I was at my grandmother’s house one day when my dad walked in carrying a tiny brown dog. Although I was nervous at first and afraid I would hurt him, I soon became comfortable around him and took him everywhere with me. I named him Sparkle, and we were best friends. We played outside a lot in my playhouse, and he especially enjoyed exploring in the woods across the street. He even liked to ride in the basket on the front of my little red bike. In short, we were inseparable.

One day I went to a friend’s birthday party in Fork. When I got home, my parents told me that a man who was driving too fast up our street had run over Sparkle and had not even stopped his car. Daddy had buried Sparkle in the backyard before I got home. I remember vividly going into my room and crying for hours. It took me a long time to get over what had happened.

My parents eventually got me another dog, and I loved her too, and actually, for all of my life, I have had a dog. They are good friends and faithful companions.

At this point, our sweet dog Tipper is a senior dog. When I had surgery in 2002 and again in 2015, she sat beside me in my recliner for several weeks while I recovered. She seemed to sense that I needed comforting. She has taken care of us for several years, and now that she is almost 16 years old, we spend a lot of time taking care of her. She loves hamburgers, and we sometimes fix them for her even though they may not be good for her. She deserves what she likes at this point.

I feel that dogs have enriched my life for all of my years, and I am thankful that God made such sweet companions for us.

More by Linda Barnette.