Off they went! Annie was in the backseat and Miss Bessie drove while Mrs. Langford, who later said, “Had I only known,” road shotgun.
“I can’t bear the thought of poor little Katie not being able to get up from her desk and walk. What on earth would cause this to happen after all the hard work she and Arf put in? She has come so far.”
“Please, Miss Bessie, watch the road and slow down,” Mrs. Langford begged. “We must get there in one piece. When was the last time you drove?”
They got to the school in record time and when they reached Katie’s classroom, they found her still sitting at her desk. Her teacher, Ms Andrews, was there, but it appeared that all of the other students were at lunch. Katie looked both frightened and sad. When she saw the threesome enter the classroom, she burst into tears.
“Excuse me ladies,” Miss Andrews said. “Your dog cannot be in the classroom or, for that matter, anywhere inside the school.”
“Oh but she must be here,” Miss Bessie said in earnest. “Annie is Katie’s therapy dog.”
“No she isn’t, Katie argued, “Arf is my therapy dog.”
“Well Arf doesn’t happen to be here right now and Annie is sort of related to him, so it’s entirely possible that she can be of some help. You do know that Arf will be back soon don’t you, Katie?” Miss Bessie kept talking so Ms Andrews couldn’t offer more objections to Annie being there.
Meanwhile, Annie went to Katie’s side and sat there while lifting her paw like she had seen Arf do so many times when therapy was to begin.
“I love you Annie,” Katie said, “but you’re not my Arf.” Annie made a little whining sound, but continued to sit there with her paw held up. Her whole body was poised to try and help Arf’s Katie.
Katie wipped her tears with her hand and looked at Miss Bessie and Mrs. Langford. “I’m afraid to try without my Arf, but I will because I know he would want me to. He wouldn’t want Annie to feel bad would he?”
“No he wouldn’t.” Miss Bessie said. Mrs Langford and the teacher were both dabbing tears with a tissue. “Don’t be afraid. You know your legs are strong, honey. It’s your big heart that’s hurting. Arf will be back, and my guess is that it will be really soon. I also believe you are his favorite human and he misses you, too.”
Annie: Katie turned in her chair and faced me. She put her hand on my head and slowly stood. The whole room was quiet. The humans were all waiting to see her take a step. Would she try? Finally, a look of determination replaced the look of fear on her face and she tentatively too a step. “One, two, three, four, five, six,” she counted as she took six more steps. It was just like that first night, when after so many years of not walking, she and Arf had shown the family what they had worked so hard to accomplish. Katie had been so determined to walk six steps.
I knew now that all I had to worry about was getting back in that car with Miss Bessie at the wheel. Oh well, I thought. Even Arf can’t drive.