Authors: Ilene Cooper
With great thanks to Jennifer Arena—
who loves Lucy almost as much as I do
To our beloved dog, Mary
obby Quinn sat on the front steps of his house. He watched one tired leaf float down from the big oak tree in the yard.
“Uh-oh,” said Bobby. Falling leaves. Okay, one leaf. But many more were sure to follow. Bobby knew what that meant. School would start soon.
School. Bobby didn’t want to think about school.
And for just that moment he didn’t have to. A bark came from behind the screen door. It was Lucy. Lucy was a brown and white beagle with black spots and eyes the color of chocolate kisses.
Bobby’s parents had given Lucy to him for his eighth birthday, earlier in the summer. She was absolutely the best dog ever!
was Bobby’s favorite word.
Lucy’s bark turned into a howl. A howl meant she wanted out of the house, and she wanted out right now.
“Okay, girl,” Bobby said with a smile. “You can come and sit with me.”
But Lucy wasn’t the kind of dog who liked to sit. She was the kind of dog who liked to run and jump. She liked to run so much that a few weeks ago she had run away. Bobby and his friend Shawn had to
chase her all around their town. For a few anxious moments, Bobby had been afraid he might not see Lucy again.
Just the thought of that day gave him a stomachache. Since then, Bobby hadn’t taken any chances. He hurried to shut the gate before he let Lucy out of the house.
When Lucy was free, she leapt down the steps into the yard. Yipping and yapping, she stood next to the Frisbee that Bobby had dropped in the grass the day before. Lucy looked at Bobby with her big brown eyes.
Pick it up! Throw it!
That was what her barks seemed to say.
Bobby didn’t have to be asked twice. He hurled the red Frisbee, and Lucy went on the chase. Bobby threw. Lucy chased. Every time Lucy brought back the Frisbee, she pranced around, waiting for the next toss.
School might be starting soon, but it was still summer, and it was hot. Bobby wondered where Lucy got all her energy. He wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“Hi, Bobby,” a voice called.
Bobby looked up and saw his friend Shawn at the gate. Shawn had moved in across the street over the summer, and Lucy had brought the two shy boys together.
Bobby wasn’t as shy as he used to be. But when he thought about school, he got nervous. He didn’t really have any friends in his class. He had always been too shy to talk to the other kids. Would things be any better this year?
“Hey, Shawn. Come in,” Bobby said.
Shawn opened the gate and carefully closed it behind him. Chasing Lucy all over town was still very clear in his mind, too.
He didn’t want to go through that again.
Lucy ran over to Shawn and sniffed his hand. She dashed back to the Frisbee. She looked first at Bobby, then at Shawn.
Well? Let’s play
, she seemed to say.
Instead Bobby said, “It’s too hot, Lucy.” He turned to Shawn. “Let’s go inside and have some lemonade.”
“Okay. I have something to tell you.”
As Bobby and Shawn headed for the door, Lucy started barking again. She wasn’t going to give up playtime that easily.
Sometimes Bobby gave in to Lucy’s wishes, but not today. He opened the door wide. “Come in, Lucy.”
What could a dog do? She dashed past the boys and led the way into the house.
Bobby went right to the refrigerator and opened it. The cold air hit him. It felt great. He grabbed the lemonade pitcher and brought it to the table. Then he took a couple of glasses off the counter and poured the lemonade.
“So what’s up, Shawn?” he asked.
Shawn took a glass. “My parents said I could get a pet.”
“A dog?” Bobby knew Shawn had wanted a dog for a long time.
Shawn shook his head. “No. They said I should start with something small.”
“A hamster? A turtle? A bird?” Bobby asked.
Shawn shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet.”
Mrs. Quinn came into the kitchen. “Bobby,” she said, “we need to go to the mall and pick up some things for school. And I need to stop at Pet-O-Rama and buy some food for Lucy.”
There was that word again. Then he had a thought. “Can Shawn come with us, Mom? He’s looking for a pet,” Bobby informed his mother. “He doesn’t know what
kind yet. A trip to Pet-O-Rama will give him some ideas.”
“Okay. We’re leaving in a few minutes. I’ll call your mother, Shawn, and make sure it’s fine for you to come with us,” Bobby’s mother said.
Shawn nodded. Like Bobby, he didn’t find it easy to speak up.
Bobby looked at Shawn.
Is Shawn worried about school starting, too?
It was hard to be the new kid. But in a way, Bobby wished he could be the new kid. He would like a fresh start. He was sure plenty of his classmates remembered that in kindergarten he was so shy, he used to cry. His nickname was Cry Bobby.
“Shawn …,” Bobby began.
“School is starting soon.”
“I know,” Shawn answered quietly. “How could I forget?”
From the look on Shawn’s face, Bobby had his answer. Shawn wasn’t any happier about school than he was.
encils. Notebooks. Crayons. Bobby and his mother filled up a shopping cart with school supplies. Shawn’s mother had said he should buy some things, too. So Shawn added his items to the cart.
“Mom, when will we find out if Shawn and I are in the same classroom?” Bobby asked.
“We should hear in the next few days,”
Mrs. Quinn said as she pushed the cart down the crowded aisles.
“I sure hope we’re in the same room,” Bobby told Shawn.
“Me too,” Shawn answered. “At least you know some kids at school. I don’t know anybody.”
“You know Candy,” Mrs. Quinn reminded Shawn. “She’s in our school district now. She might be in your class.”
Candy was a new friend Bobby had made in dog obedience class. Lucy wasn’t a very good student, but Candy’s dog, Butch, was terrible. He sat when he was told to stand. He sat when he was asked to fetch. Sometimes in the middle of class he just lay down and closed his eyes.
“It would be great if Candy ends up in our classroom,” Bobby said. “She talks so
much, we wouldn’t have to talk at all.”
The boys grinned at each other. They both liked Candy, but sometimes it was hard to get a word in edgewise.
Shawn and Candy in his room.
Bobby wondered what it would be like to have two friends in class. Then his smile faded. What if they wanted Bobby to introduce them to the other kids? Bobby barely knew the boys and girls who had been with him in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Most of the kids ignored him.
Bobby started to feel funny. Maybe it wouldn’t be so great to have Shawn and Candy as classmates. He didn’t want them to know how unpopular he was.
“Bobby? You haven’t heard a word I’ve said,” his mother told him.
Bobby shrugged. It was true. He hadn’t.
“I want to do a little clothes shopping,” his mother repeated.
“We’ll get to the pet store soon,” Mrs. Quinn said. She was already pushing her cart toward the kids’ clothing section.
Bobby sighed. The best thing to do was to make clothes shopping go as fast as possible.
Bobby picked out a blue shirt. And a sweatshirt with a football helmet on it.
His mother put the clothes in the cart. “All right. Would you like to try on some jeans?”
Bobby and Shawn looked at each other. That could take forever.