Time for another short story! :D It’s a happy story about love and dogs and no princesses. Enjoy!
“Bedtime story! Bedtime story!” little Adalyn cried out as she jumped into bed. She quickly snuggled down into her blankets and pulled her stuffed puppy dog close to her chest.
“Alright, but just one,” her father said as he tucked her into bed. “Which story did you want?” He peered down at the little collection of bedtime story books in the bookshelf next to Adalyn’s bed.
“No books tonight!” Adalyn said indignantly, a pouting expression on her face. “I want a real story.”
“Do these not count?” her father asked as he looked longingly at the bookshelf. His silly expression made Adalyn giggle.
“A real story!” she reiterated. “One with love!”
“One with love?” he asked confused by the odd request.
“Because it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow!” Adalyn said with a sigh of exacerbation. “And I want a puppy in it too!” she added as an afterthought.
“So a real story. One with love and a dog.” He looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully, his daughter gleefully nodding her head.
“I think I know one…” he said slowly, the story taking shape in his mind.
Little Adalyn snuggled further into her blankets. Ruffus, her stuffed dog, quickly disappeared beneath the covers as she held him close.
“Once there was a young princess,” her father began.
“No princesses!” Adalyn demanded before her father could go too far into the tale.
“Alright, alright. No princesses,” he said with a chuckle, clearly amused by his daughters demands.
“And it has to be true!”
“Alright,” he said with another laugh. “There once was a young girl,” he began again.
“Is this one true?” Adalyn pouted.
“I promise this one is based on a true story. Will that work?”
“Ok,” Adalyn conceded.
“Now no more interrupting,” her father warned. “Now then, there once was a young girl named Kira, and she lived on a farm with her family. Her father had two sheep dogs he used to help herd their sheep. Sometimes the female dog would have puppies, but the farmer always sent them away.
“On Kira’s fifteenth birthday, she asked her father for one of those puppies to keep as her own. Since there had been a recent litter, she knew her odds were good of getting one. Her father thought about it and went outside to check on the pups. When he came back, he had a puppy in the palm of his hand. He was a tiny thing, no bigger than your hand,” Adalyn’s father paused as he poked his daughter on the nose.
Adalyn wrinkled her face. Then she squirmed beneath the covers until her hand came free. She held it close to her face as she measured just how big the puppy would be, but she respectfully remained quiet as her father continued the tale.
“Kira’s father warned her the puppy might die, he was so small and weak. She asked him why, and he told her the puppy had been the runt of the litter. Being a runt of the litter meant he had been born smaller, and as he grew, his larger brothers and sisters kept him from eating. ‘Had the puppy stayed with his family, he would have died,’ he told Kira sadly.
“Kira cried as she held the tiny pup to her chest. She told her father she would care for him and help him grow. And that’s exactly what she did. Day after day she cared for the tiny pup until he grew and grew and grew. A year went by and the pup stopped growing. He stood at only half the height of his siblings. Still, Kira cared for him, not caring that he was smaller than the other dogs. She named him Nikita, meaning unconquered.
“Years went by and the two were nearly inseparable. As time went on, Kira became a young woman, and Nikita became a healthy young dog, still smaller than all the rest. Despite having a loving family and an amazing companion, Kira felt lonely. Nikita did his best to cheer her, but he could not cure the lonely feeling in Kira.”
“Why was Kira lonely?” Adalyn asked sleepily.
“Because she was a woman now, and all of her friends were getting married and moving away.”
“Oh,” Adalyn said with a yawn. Her eyelids drooped, but she kept them open enough to give her father a pouty face. He laughed at the failed attempt for Adalyn was too tired to pull it off properly.
“It’s a very lonely thing,” he said as he tried to explain further, “seeing everyone you know happy and in love. It’s even lonelier when they move away,” he added. “Well, Kira felt lonely and a bit abandoned by her friends. She too wanted to fall in love and to be loved, and not just by her parents anymore. For they still loved her very much, and she knew that.
“Kira’s friends often gave her suggestions on who to date. At first she ignored them. She wanted to find someone on her own, not with help from friends. Then one day she gave in. She went on a few dates, but no one seemed interested in who she was or what she wanted to do. Then came the day when she met not one man, but two. They were both kind, and interested in the things she said, and they seemed sincere in wanting to get to know her. Yet she struggled with what to do. She could not love them both equally, she had to pick.
“She stressed over her dilemma for many days until finally her father suggested she have a party. Then she could have her friends over and everyone could meet. It would be casual enough that she could invite as many friends as she wanted. So, she did just that.
“On the day of the party, Nikita grew restless. He followed Kira everywhere she went. He could tell that something new and exciting was taking place. Kira bustled about in preparation for the party. While she had done small parties before, this would be the first time for having so many over. She had to run to and fro as she went to set up the decorations, set out the food, clean the house, and all the other little tasks needed to make everything just right. As she went to and fro on her tasks, Nikita followed close by her side.
“Then the guests began to arrive. Never before had Nikita smelled so many new smells. He sniffed and barked as each new person entered. He jumped and ran around in circles, his tail wagging with each new guest. His antics made Kira smile, and she began to relax. Then came the first of the men she had a crush on. He entered and Nikita turned vicious.
“Gone were the happy barks from before and the playful lickings and tail wagging. Nikita stood between the man and Kira. He growled, his head low and his teeth bared. His tail stood stiffly out behind him. All the partiers stopped partying as Nikita’s growl turned to a fierce snarl.
“Nothing Kira did could stop those terrifying sounds. She apologized profusely for her dog’s behavior, but in the end the man left in an angry huff. Hurt by her crush’s behavior, Kira did her best to stay positive. Just to be safe, she took Nikita outside so no one else would feel unwelcome. The rest of the night had Kira on edge. She could not stop thinking about Nikita and what had triggered the response in her beloved friend. (Story written by Sarah Maree.)
“At last the party ended and everyone went home. Kira was cleaning up when her father stopped her from picking up more dirty dishes. ‘Take a look outside,’ he told her. Bemused, she went to the window and looked out. There on the lawn was Nikita, happy as can be, a stranger rubbing his exposed belly. Kira gaped at the scene. There were few people who could rub Nikita’s belly without getting an angry response!
“She rushed outside to see who had become such good friends with her dog. Besides that, she wanted to see if Nikita had calmed down enough from all the excitement. When she walked closer, she discovered it to be the other man she had a crush on. At that moment, she realized she had not seen him earlier at the party. She asked him where he had been, and he told her he had only just arrived thanks to a flat tire on his car.
“Kira looked at the two of them, man and dog. She excused herself then and went back inside to talk with her father. However, he spoke first. ‘Sometimes,’ he said, ‘dogs see things and understand things better than we do.’ Kira nodded slowly. She looked back out the window. ‘Perhaps,’ she said, ‘Nikita sensed something in the first man that I did not. And now, he is trying to tell me he likes this one.’ Her father gave her a knowing smile and said, ‘Dogs are man’s best friend.’ ‘And woman’s too,’ Kira said with a smile of her own.
“To this day, Kira and the man who earned Nikita’s trust are inseparable. They began dating after that night and eventually were married. Both are firm believers that Nikita truly is man’s best friend.”
Adalyn’s eyes had long since closed, but as the story came to a close, she began to smile. Her father pulled the covers up and kissed her goodnight. He smiled as he recalled the night he had met the sheep dog Nikita. He knew it would be several years before he could tell his daughter the full story, but at least he had fulfilled his promise and given her a true story. One with love and a dog.