Ode to my Pen Pen


In 2005, the Awads welcomed a new member of the family, an adorable six-week-old beagle puppy. We got her because my brother, an animal lover, wanted to get a dog and my parents finally gave in to his pleas. I don’t remember the whole situation (I was nine or ten, after all), but somehow I was the one who got to name her. After just finishing up an episode of the Proud Family, I had the perfect one to give her.


She made us laugh and drove us crazy. She ate everything, would never shut up, whined for food, and was impossible to beat in a race. But she was also a really, really good dog. When I was lifeguarding at the community pool, she would wait for me at the gate, even when I wasn’t there after I went to college. When the door opened, she would always get up to greet you and give you kisses. When you were feeling down, she was always there to pet and pat and hug. She was a crazy dog but she quickly became a family staple. Growing up would not have been the same without her.


Penny, the beagle with the softest ears, cutest face, and most charming bay, was in our lives for over fourteen years. She passed away lying next to my dad on the couch, just how she wanted, on May 24, three days before my 25th birthday. She has been in my life for most of it and the thought of going home and not seeing her there kills me, but there was also a wave a serenity that came over me when I heard the news. I was sad but also...satisfied? And I’m here to write about it because I don’t know what else to do.


It’s weird. I have never felt this way before. I am simultaneously sad and grateful. Penny was my sweet little girl. I loved that dog with every part of me, so I am unbelievably heartbroken. But at the same time, I am filled with so much joy that I had the opportunity to have her in my life. I am so grateful that she was mine. Even though I’m devastated that she’s gone, I also feel so genuinely glad.


Kids can love things unconditionally in a way adults cannot. Whether it’s their innocence, naiveté, or something else, I cannot say— but children have a capacity to feel, emote, and love in a way I no longer am able to. Penny was the last piece of my childhood that I loved that way, so freely and unconditionally. I don’t think I can love something the same way I loved Penny anymore. I’ve simply grown out of it. So I’m going to treasure my memories of Penny, the times we had together and the way I felt and feel about her, because she was more than just my dog. She was my walk around the block, my welcome home kiss, my lucky girl. I will never love anything like I loved her ever again.


Thank you Penny, my princess! You were one of the greatest things in my life, and you always will be!

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