Buster is my family’s pet beagle. We’ve had him for nearly three years now, so we still think of him as a puppy, but the little guy’s pretty smart for being so young. As I laid out everything I would need to pack into my boxes, if I pointed to something across the room and asked Buster to grab it for me, he would jump to attention, bound across the room, nab the item I’d asked for, and trot right back to me, dropping the item at my feet with what looked surprisingly like a proud little smile on his face. It was ridiculously cute and surprisingly helpful. My mom had been at work all day, so it was nice to have someone working with me to get such a tricky job done.
We were coming up on the end of summer break, so it was time for me to head off to college and begin the next chapter of my life. My mother and I had been shopping for things to put in my dorm room all summer and buying all kinds of boxes and storage containers to put it in. And the task of stuffing all my clothes, shoes, makeup, toiletries, electronics, and everything else I would need to survive my first semester of the school took quite a long time to complete. Luckily, I had a little bit of help.
By the time my mom had returned home, the puppy and I had almost finished packing up every last box. My mom came in to help me with the very last one, so it took no time at all to finish it up. We loaded every box and bag into the back of the car, apart from one where I’d put all the things I still needed to use overnight. When we went back inside, I was so tired from my long day of hard work that I went straight to bed. I had almost drifted off to sleep when my bedroom door creaked open just the slightest bit. I heard a little jingling noise, and before I knew it, Buster had jumped up onto the bed and curled up right at my feet. He kept me nice and toasty all night long.
In the morning, we woke up together and I just laid by him for a little while, petting his soft fur and patting his fuzzy little head. My mother called us down to breakfast not much later, so we both scrambled off the bed and down the stairs to eat. My mother had made me pancakes and bacon, my favorite breakfast, and I was overjoyed as I ate a large, syrupy stack and snuck little bits of bacon to Buster under the table. When we’d finished breakfast, it was time for me to get ready to leave. I brushed my teeth and washed my face and got dressed, then packed up my pajamas and everything else I’d just finished using into the last box we’d left out. My mother told me it was time to head out, so I called for Buster so that I could say goodbye to the little guy.
He didn’t come. I knew he was probably still tired from our long day yesterday and he’d probably just gone off to take a little nap somewhere, but I was going to miss the little puppy, and I’d wanted to give him one more hug before I left. He didn’t come the second time I called, either, and I could tell my mom was getting impatient, so I picked up that last box and walked out of the house. After loading the box into the back seat, I took my place in the front on the passenger’s side, and my mom started up the car so we could head out. We took off down the road towards the school where I’d be spending the next four years of my life.
It wasn’t too long a drive. I didn’t want to be five minutes from home, but I didn’t want to be so far away that I couldn’t get home if I needed something or my family couldn’t get to me if there were something they needed help with. So, I’d decided a school just across the state line. After an hour or so of driving, we stopped to get a little lunch, but we took our food to go so that we wouldn’t delay the rest of the trip too long. It was strange, but as we opened our food, it sounded almost like one of the boxes in the back whimpered.
Not long after that, we arrived on my new campus. It was just as pretty as I remembered and my dorm building appeared on the left-hand side as we turned a familiar corner. We parked behind the building and began to lug boxes into my room. It was amazing how much more quickly the unpacking process unfolded compared to the packing process from the day before, but before I knew it, my whole dorm room had been set up just the way I wanted it, and my mom was getting ready to say goodbye. She pulled me into a tight hug before telling me to have a great first week of classes, then headed out of my room and backed down to the car. I was sad to see her go, but I was excited to start my new adventure.
When I turned back to my bed, I spotted the last box I’d packed with all my overnight stuff and realized I’d forgotten to unpack it. I sat on the bed and lifted it into my lap, finding it much heavier than I remembered, but when I opened the flaps, out sprang Buster! I was so overjoyed to see him that I couldn’t help but laugh, and I think he felt the same way, judging by how many little puppy kisses he gave me. I knew my mom wouldn’t be pleased about having to come back and pick him up, but I figured I could keep this little secret until tomorrow. For now, I was going to enjoy having my little pal by my side.