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But For A Dog by Snapegirl
Chapter 4 : Not Without My Dog!
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Snape's Journal:

May 30th, 1993:

The Manchester Courier was advertising the annual dog show as I read the morning paper. I got both a wizard and Muggle paper, so I could keep abreast of news in both worlds, since I lived in both. I knew other half-bloods who had chosen one or the other for whatever reason, but I had always felt comfortable in both worlds, picking and choosing which customs I followed based on my personal preference. I did, of course keep the Wizarding Statute of Secrecy, because I did not wish for any Aurors to come and hound me, though no one in Muggle society would ever believe the truth. Magic was for fairytales and movies and children with big imaginations. No right-thinking adult would ever think magic was real, and if they did, they kept it to themselves or were thought crazy.

My eyes were drawn to the advert, and I recalled the one time I had ever attended a dog show, as a participant, with Gabriel by my side. I had been eleven, it was the summer just before I attended Hogwarts, and Lily was the one who encouraged me to do so . . .

June, 1971:

"Look at this, Sev!" Lily rushed up the porch steps just as Gabe and I were coming out the door. She was waving a newspaper in her hand. "First annual dog show to be held at the Manchester Civic Center! All breeds of dogs welcome. Registered and unregistered purebreds may be shown. Junior handler class for children 11 years and up." She thrust the paper under my nose.

I read the advertisement and looked down at my collie. Gabriel stood beside me, panting and wagging his tail at Lily. "You think I should enter? I mean, I know Gabe's a purebred and as good as any collie there, but . . .I don't have any money for the entrance fee and I don't know if he'd like being shown. How do you show a dog, anyhow?"

"You've never watched the Westminster Dog Show on TV?" Lily asked, her evergreen eyes alight with dreams of blue ribbons.

"My dad broke our old set and Mum doesn't want to waste money on TV when she needs it for tuition for Hogwarts," I said bluntly.

"Oh, right. Well, I've seen it lots of times and all you have to do is walk in a circle and then stand next to your dog while a judge runs his hands over him and looks at him. It's sort of like a beauty pageant for dogs. I think Gabe would win, he's the most gorgeous collie ever!" Lily gushed loyally.

"He's the only collie you know," I laughed.

"He's prettier than Lassie. Oh, do enter, Sev!"

"How? I don't have any money for an entrance fee."

She pointed to a small box under the Rules and Regulations portion of the ad. "Look there! It says all junior handlers can show their first dog for a sixpence. You've got that much, right?"

"Yeah." How ironic, for that was how much I had paid for Gabriel.

"Well then . . .fill out the entry form on here and send it on in!" she urged.

I bit my lip. How could I compete with kids who had probably done stuff like this for years? I didn't want to make a laughingstock out of myself or my dog. I didn't know the first thing about dog shows. "I don't know, Lil. Gabe's not . . .well, he's not been trained for this kind of thing . . ."

"Severus, he's the smartest dog I know, and wasn't his father a champion show dog?"

"Yeah. I think so."

"Then he has as good a chance as any. Blood will tell, Sev," Lily said stoutly. "Wouldn't you like it if everyone admired him and you won a blue ribbon?"

I looked again at my dog. I already knew he was the best dog, a champion. But it would be great if other people knew it too. "All right. I'll fill out the form. After I tell Mum."

"I'm sure she won't mind. Not if you're using your own money and all." Lily said. "The show's on a Sunday afternoon, so it won't conflict with school or homework."

"You've got it all figured out, haven't you?"

She grinned. "I had to, just to convince you."

I laughed for she knew me too well. We had about a month to get Gabe ready, the show was scheduled for July 6th. "Clever, Lily, very clever."

"I'll help you all I can," she promised.

I knelt down and looked into Gabriel's deep brown eyes. "Would you like to be in a dog show, Gabe? Show all those fancy dog people how great you are?"

Gabriel barked an affirmative. I know you probably think I'm crazy, but I swear he understood every word I spoke to him.

Mum gave her permission for me to enter the show, and I filled out the form as best I could, letting her sign the bottom, and including the fee, before sending it to the people in charge of the show. A few days later I received a voucher with my name and Gabriel's name on it, registered for July 6th, 1971 Manchester dog show, Junior Collie Class for collies two to four years of age. Lily nearly jumped up and down when I showed it to her.

"Now we'd best get started," She said. "First we need a book on collies so we can see the breed standard and see if Gabe meets all the requirements."

"Breed standard?"

"It's how they determine what a breed should look like and what are faults and stuff. Just get a book from the library, Sev. And see if you can find some on grooming and dog show handling as well."

I went to the library the next day and found everything I needed.

The stuff I needed to learn was easy, and Gabriel already knew how to walk calmly on my left on a lead. I did have to teach him how to square up, however, and remain still while Lily ran her hands over him like a judge would. He kept wanting to lick her face. But every time he remained facing forward, I gave him a treat and he soon caught on. There was an awful lot of stuff in the collie breed standard that I didn't get, but the most important things, the shape of his ears and his head and four white feet, Gabriel had. His coat was thick and bushy and shiny, thanks to Mum giving him a raw egg for breakfast every morning, and I bathed and brushed him once a week.

For the show, I even brushed his teeth. He didn't like it much though, I guess mint isn't a dog's favorite flavor.

I asked Mum how to clip a dog's nails, and she took down a spellbook on wizard pets and taught me a spell to trim Gabe's nails. It worked brilliantly.

Then we worked on walking slowly and proudly around in a circle, while Lily pretended to be the judge. She would stand in the center of a pretend circle and say things like, "Gait your dog, please, sir." Meaning I should run Gabe around the circle so she could see how he moved at a trot. Or she would say "Pose your dog, sir!"

Then I had to make him stand with his feet shoulder width apart, still as a statue, head up and alert, while I knelt beside him on one knee, one hand under his head and the other resting on his back just before his tail. I taught Gabe how to pose for about five to ten minutes, and the only thing he still did wrong was he started to wag his tail when Lily moved towards him.

I didn't know how to keep him from doing that, and just had to hope he didn't do it when the real judge came over.

I did my best to trim him according to the picture in the grooming book, but wasn't sure if I did a good enough job.

The show lead was a problem, as I didn't have any money to get one, they were kind of expensive. Mum told me she'd just Glamour up his regular collar and lead so it looked like one.

I knew it was kind of cheating, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, right?

Finally, the day of the show arrived. I had brushed and bathed Gabriel till he shone that morning, and kept him indoors till Mrs. Evans could drive us over to the dog show. Mum's car barely ran, and today it was acting up. Plus it was too small for all of us plus a huge collie.

I started to feel sick to my stomach an hour before we were to leave. This always happened to me before anything major, like an important exam or a speech. Mum said it was nerves and I'd grow out of it. Sometimes I sicked up. That day, I fought it, drank loads of ginger ale followed by a swig of a Stomach Soother, and felt better. I was dressed in my good set of trousers, pressed, and a button down collared short-sleeved shirt colored yellow, it matched Gabriel, sort of. I was also wearing my good loafers and Mum had trimmed my hair. Normally I hated that, but this time I knew it was necessary. For some reason, adults think a kid with long hair looks grungy or sloppy. Go figure!

We all piled into the Evans' big station wagon, and Gabe got to sit in the back boot, where he could stretch out and look out the rear window. I hoped he wouldn't go nuts when we got to the show, and saw all the other dogs. He loved other dogs and wanted to play with them whenever he saw one.

Sure enough, as soon as we entered the center, and he smelled and saw the bunches of other dogs, from huge Great Danes to tiny Yorkies, Gabriel started pulling at his lead and whining, trying to greet them.

"Settle down!" I ordered in my best no-nonsense tone. "Stop it!"

Gabriel looked up at me, his brown eyes puzzled, and then he began to "talk" to me. He had an odd habit of making strange up-and-down half-growls and whines, which sounded almost as if he were trying to form words. I didn't know if all collies did that, or only him, but he started it now.

"Hey," I said, petting him. "You can't play with those other dogs now, Gabriel. You gotta behave and just calm down, okay? Here," I fed him a dog biscuit. He gulped it down. "Good dog. Heel," I ordered.

We began to walk through the center. I looked around and found the Registration Booth and headed over to it, Mum, Lily, and Mrs. Evans following me.

The place was swarming with dogs of all kinds, all of them barking their heads off. I would have gotten a headache if I hadn't been so focused on my dog behaving.

I turned in my papers, and got an armband with the number 9 on it, and the form that told me I would be in ring three at three-thirty for the Junior handling class. I also got a number for Gabriel's bench where he would stay till the class was called. I checked my watch. Two-forty. We had a bit of a wait.

Once at the bench, which was a wooden platform covered with some kind of fuzzy cushion with sides, and a ring you could clip a lead to, I had Gabe come up on it and lie down. He was nervous, panting and drooling. I ran a comb through his mane and gave him some water.

"Stay!" I told him when he kept trying to see over the side.

He obeyed, but he didn't like it.

"Sorry. After the show, you can play with the other dogs," I said.

"Let's go and see the other collies," Lily suggested.

"Don't go far," Mum cautioned.

"We won't."

"And make sure you're back here before your class is called," said Mrs. Evans.

I rolled my eyes. As if I'd forget that!

"Severus!" Mum frowned at me.

"Sorry," I mumbled and quit rolling my eyes.

Lily dragged me two benches over and we saw another collie, she was almost pure white with a black and tan head. She was nice looking, but her coat wasn't as thick as Gaby's. We saw about ten other collies, and they were all good looking, but I thought Gabe looked the best. Yes, I was prejudiced, I'll admit it.

Then Lily whispered in my ear, "There are some fine looking collies here, but nobody can hold a candle to Gabriel, Sev."

I felt better when she said that. Of course, being my friend, she would say that, but it still felt good. All the nervous butterflies had almost left me by the time we headed back towards our bench. I saw a boy about my age standing in front of it, eyeing Gabriel, who was wagging his tail. The boy had sandy hair and was wearing a fancy suit. For some reason, he made the hairs on the back of my neck bristle.

As I came up to him, he turned and said, with a sneer, "This your collie?"

"Yes."

"You should just withdraw and go home," he said dismissively.

"Why?" Lily asked, before I could.

"Because it's obvious your dog's a cull, and he'll never make it past the first round. Are you sure he's a real collie?"

I wanted to slug him right in his fat mouth. How dare he call my dog a cull?

Lily glared at him. "Of course he's a real collie! Anyone can see that! Maybe you need glasses."

"Did I ask you?" he demanded, all high and mighty.

"Why don't you go back and look at your own dog, before I do something you'll regret." My hands were balled into fists.

"Like what? You shrimp, I could take you with one hand behind my back."

"Sev could take you in his sleep!" Lily snapped.

"You always let girls do your talking for you?"

"If they're right." I said coldly. I wanted so bad to just mop the floor with his arrogant arse.

Gabriel started to bark, I knew he could tell I didn't like the kid.

"Shut up, mutt!" the boy growled.

"Excuse me, young man, but why are you bothering my dog?" demanded my mother, she had just returned from the ladies room.

The kid turned around. "Beg pardon, ma'am, but your dog is very unfriendly. If you don't watch it, I'll report you."

Mum fixed him with a Look, one that never failed to make me feel two feet tall. "Do not lie to me, young man. My dog is not unfriendly, merely protective of my son. And I will report you for starting trouble if you don't head back the way you came and mind your own business."

He backed up a step. "I wasn't doin' nothing," he cried, a distinct nasal whine in his voice.

"Then why do you look like a guilty schoolboy caught putting tacks on the teacher's chair?" she demanded. "You're up to no good. Now get!"

He looked like he was about to argue, then he thought better of it and just turned about. "Interfering ugly bitch!" he muttered as he went by.

I nearly lost it then and attacked him.

But Mum grabbed me and cried, "Severus, control yourself!"

"But Mum, he said—"

"I know." Mum declared coldly. "And if I had the raising of him, he wouldn't be able to sit down for a day."

"Then let me go." I tried to wriggle free of her grip, but she refused to let go.

"No. You shall not sink to his level, Severus. He's baiting you, son, hoping you'll give in and start a fight with him, so he can get you disqualified. Brawls aren't allowed."

I relaxed, though my blood boiled still. He had done the unforgivable and insulted my mother!

"I'd have to agree with you, Eileen," said Mrs. Evans. "It's a ploy so he can get rid of you and Gabriel. I'll bet he's scared silly to go up against you in the ring, Severus. And he just said those things to make you mad so you'd hit him and get thrown out."

"What a nasty little git!" Lily said. "You want me to punch him out for you?"

"Lily! I taught you better than that, my girl! A lady doesn't go around punching boys." Her mum scolded.

"Not even when they really need it?"

"Not even then," Mrs. Evans said. "Heaven help me, but you ought to have been a boy!"

"I know," Lily sighed. "Boys have all the fun."

I kept quiet, because I agreed with her. At least when my mum wasn't around, I could defend the family honor. A girl had to wait till her older brother or friend did it for her. Or they did if they were "proper ladies".

Mum patted my shoulder. "Don't worry, Sev. You can beat him in the ring, whoever he is. That'll be more satisfying and hurt him worse than if you beat his head into the wall."

Much as I hated to admit it, she was probably right.

Finally, our class was called.

I unsnapped Gaby's lead and he jumped down to stand at my side.

"Good luck, son!" Mum told me.

"Knock 'em dead, Sev!" Liky crowed, and she bent and kissed Gabriel on the forehead.

"Lily, for heaven's sake!" groaned Mrs. Evans.

'What? He's perfectly clean, Mum. And he doesn't have fleas."

They made their way to their seats beside the ring.

I was the third handler and dog pair to enter the ring. To my dismay, I saw the insulting boy was first. I quickly looked at his dog. He had a very pretty collie, a tricolor male named Six Times Lucky, that was slightly smaller than Gabriel. I had to admit, he looked every inch a professional show dog, and the kid looked like he'd been doing this his whole life. He had that bored superior air about him.

I felt my nerves start to return. What was I doing here? I was nobody, just a kid with a pet collie. Did I really think I could compete with these other dogs, who had probably been in shows since they were small puppies? Who was I kidding?

My palms started sweating and I wiped them on my trousers quickly. I wrapped the lead about my right hand and concentrated on breathing deeply.

There were six dogs in this group, and when the judge called our name and the dog's name, we were supposed to gait the dog around the ring.

Snot-Brat went first, his real name was Gene Tolliver. God, he even sounded like a toff! I watched him and felt envious because he looked so sure of himself. The judge made a few notes and motioned for him to stop and pose the dog. Then he waved a girl with a blue merle collie next, that one I really liked, her coat was gorgeous, and her handler was very good and very pretty as well.

Then it was our turn. I remembered to hold the lead in my left and hold my arm out a bit from my body, and to jog purposefully about the ring. Gaby performed excellently, he was happy, alert, and trotted easily in a smooth flowing motion. I was the one who feared I'd trip and fall over.

Once we were back at our place, I halted and posed my collie. Gabe seemed to sense this was no time to get distracted, for he remained facing forward as I kneeled beside him.

Finally all the other collies had been gaited and the judge came over to examine the dogs.

The judge was quick and thorough. In about three minutes he was coming towards us, and I nearly died. My dog was wagging his tail slightly. No, oh, no! I hissed, "Gabe, look here." He focused on the treat.

The judge nodded and smiled at me, I must have looked on the verge of sicking up. But I refused to disgrace myself that way.

He knelt and started looking at Gabe's teeth, running his hands over him, picking up his feet.

I held my breath. Stand still, boy. Please!

He did and I had to bite back a grin. But all of a sudden I was the one in danger of moving. I had to pee really bad, it must have been the ginger ale I had drank. I started to pray to Merlin to help me. Finally the judge was finished and had moved on to the next dog.

Ten minutes had never seemed so long.

After a moment, the judge signaled us to gait the dogs again. Moving helped a little. When we came to a halt again, he pointed first to the girl with the merle, whose name was Tipperary Magic, and then to me and then to Snot-Brat. I was shocked, knowing that he had just pulled us out for a closer examination.

This was for the ribbon . . .I had a good chance of coming in second and hopefully beating Tolliver.

Judge waved the others away, and concentrated on us.

He had us go round the ring once more. I was in agony but I gritted my teeth. Hurry up, please!

"Pose your dogs," he said.

Then he came back for a last inspection.

He lingered longest over me and the merle.

Pick someone already! I longed to scream. Before I wet my damn pants!

Finally he stood up, wrote something on his chart and went over and fetched the ribbons.

He walked up to Snot-Brat and handed him the yellow third place.

Ha! I had beaten him. Serves him right. He looked like he was about to cry.

The judge had the second place ribbon in his hand. I watched him approach, waited for it to be placed in my hand.

Instead he walked past me . . .and handed the red ribbon to the girl and Tipperary Magic.

The crowd gasped and then applauded loudly.

"Winner, Junior Collie Class, Gabriel, handler Severus Snape," he announced before he bent and pinned the blue ribbon on me. He motioned me to come and stand before the merle and I did. "You've got a fine dog there, son. Best collie I've ever seen."

"Thank you, sir." I whispered.

I saw Mum and Lily and Mrs. Evans clapping and screaming. I was very proud of my dog and also very desperate to use the bathroom. At this point I would have been happy to use a potted plant.

Gabriel's tail was wagging and he barked happily.

Someone snapped a picture and then we were waved out of the ring.

As soon as I could find Lily and Mum, I handed Lily Gabe's lead. "Hold this. I'll be right back!"

"Sev? What are you—oh." She could see where I was headed.

I ran so fast it was like I Apparated. After, I returned to find that my show wasn't quite over. Because I'd won my class, I now had to compete for Best of Breed with the older dogs.

"Maybe you'll win there too!" said Lily hopefully.

"I'm very proud of you, Sev," Mum said and hugged me.

I didn't expect to win anything else, but I actually got picked for Best of Breed Opposite, because the dog who won the class was a female, and I was the best male.

Lily was in transports. "Now you're up for Best In Show!"

I felt dizzy. I had never expected to do this well. Not in a million years. But my pet collie was proving his breeding.

We had a long wait for Best in Show. Gabe dozed while Lily and I went and ate lunch, we had Cornish pasties and drank lemonade. I made sure I used the bathroom before going into the ring this time.

We didn't win. Some fluffy Pekinese was chosen top dog. But I didn't mind too much. I had come home with two ribbons and some very interesting memories. Lily was mad that they hadn't chosen Gabriel.

"That other dog was so . . .so ugly! Gabriel was the better dog, not that yappy old thing. Looks like a feather duster with feet!"

"Lily, you can't win them all," said Mum.

Some people came up to us as we were packing up and asked if we were interested in breeding my dog.

Mum said maybe a little later and took their names and phone number. "Hold on to that," she said.

Then we all went home, where Gaby got a steak dinner to celebrate his win and I had the satisfaction of looking that toerag Tolliver right in the eye and saying. "Who has the cull now?" right before we left.

May 30, 1993:

My eyes slide from the paper to the framed ribbons and picture that the show reporter mailed us weeks later. It's strange, how you can miss an animal something fierce. Losing Gabriel was, in its own way, as bad as losing Lily had been. Mostly because he had always been by my side, even when I attended Hogwarts.

As a matter of fact, I nearly didn't go at all because of it.

Lily and I had gotten our letters right after the dog show, and at first all seemed well. I was so excited, even though I'd been reasonably sure I would receive one, that I didn't bother reading the list of school requirements until the beginning of August. Only then did I pull out that second piece of parchment and read it over. I skimmed through the books, Mum already said we could go to Diagon Alley with Lily early and pick up everything. Cauldrons and robes I already knew about. But then I came to the line about pets.

"Students may bring with them a cat, a rat, or a toad."

Nothing was said about a dog.

I felt my stomach do a flipflop. Didn't witches and wizards have dogs? Or was I the only one? It had never even occurred to me what would happen to Gabriel while I was gone to school. Oh, I knew Mum would take care of him, she loved him, but the collie had never been away from me before. And while he was no Lassie Come Home, I could picture him cold and hungry and lost trying to find me. Or pining away and starving for me. Horrified, I ran and found my mother in the basement lab, she was bottling Euphoria Drafts for her work.

I waited until she had finished, I knew better than to interrupt her, then I burst out, "Mum, what do I do about Gabriel?"

"Hmm? Sev, what are you talking about? Why do you need to do something with Gabriel?"

"When I'm at school. Look, it says I can only take a cat, rat, or owl to school!" I thrust the paper at her. "What about my dog? I can't just leave him here. Sometimes you work late, who'll let him out? And he'll miss me something terrible." I was growing more and more frantic. "What if he runs away and gets lost trying to find me? How come you can bring a dumb toad and not a dog? Don't other wizard kids have dogs?"

She laid a hand on my shoulder. "Sev, I'm sure they do, but bringing a dog to school is . . .well . . .it's impractical. Dogs are a lot of work and some dogs might not behave well and could cause trouble."

"Mine wouldn't! He knows how to behave and he doesn't ever have accidents inside anymore. Besides, he's not just a pet, he's my friend!"

And that was the heart of the matter. How could I go off to school, for nine months out of the year, and leave behind my best friend? He would think I had abandoned him. He might even forget me.

"I know, love, but it's school policy—" Mum began. "You don't bring Gabe to school now."

"That's different. I come home every day and he waits for me by the bus stop." Suddenly it was too much. By going to Hogwarts I would be giving up my home and my family for nearly a year, and everything familiar. Even though Lily would be there too, it wouldn't be the same without my dog. I would be hundreds of miles from home and what if nobody liked me? I had never made friends easily. I was too smart and quiet and tended to get overlooked, or worse, mocked. I had stopped caring since I had my collie, because a dog loves you always, no matter what you are or what you look like. I knew that whatever kids at school believed, I would always have Gabriel. Until I realized dogs weren't allowed at Hogwarts. "I'm not going!" I cried. "Not without my dog!"

Mum just stared at me. "Severus, you have to go. I've already paid your tuition for the first half a year."

"Get a refund then. If Gabe isn't welcome there, then neither am I."

"Sev, you're being ridiculous."

"No, I'm not. Banning dogs as pets is . . .it's discrimination!" I shouted.

"Severus, you're overreacting. Be reasonable. Gabriel will be fine here . . ."

"No, he won't! He'll be miserable and so will I! And you don't care! All you care about is the money!"

As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them. But I was in a temper and sick at the thought of leaving my beloved dog alone and so I blurted out the first thing to come into my head that was nasty and hurtful.

"Severus Tobias Snape!" Mum yelled, furious. "How dare you say such a thing?" Next thing I knew, she'd turned me about and given me a solid smack on my backside. "Go to your room, young man!"

Then I did something I normally would have never done—I burst into tears. Not because of the smack, that stung, but not too bad, Mum never hit me hard enough to really hurt, but because I was frustrated and terrified and my mother didn't seem to understand what it would mean for me to give up my dog. Who cared about education? Or learning magic? I ran all the way upstairs and into my room and threw myself on my bed and cried.

Gabriel thrust his nose under my chin and whined and licked me. I hugged him and bawled into his fur. "I don't care what she says! I'm not leaving you! I'll run away and live like a gypsy with you first!"

Gabriel made a soothing sound and continued to lick me. Eventually, I fell asleep, one hand clutching his ruff.

I apologized to Mum at supper for my nasty mouth, but I still didn't relent about not going to school. I became so depressed over the thought of leaving my dog that I lost my appetite and threw up after I ate anything. I hid it from Mum for a week, then she found out and dosed me with potions, but I still could barely eat. Or sleep. In fact, I started to sleep walk, I was so stressed.

After the third night Mum was awakened by Gabriel barking because I had wandered out into the yard in the dead of night, she started giving me Dreamless Sleep. "Severus, you have to stop this. You're making yourself sick."

"I can't."

"Yes, you can. Sev, I promise I will take the best care of Gabe while you're away. I'll send you pictures and letters every week. He'll be the most spoiled collie in Britain."

I knew she meant well. But it wasn't enough. "I need him, Mum. And he needs me." Why couldn't she understand? Why? "I'm not going without him."

There was two weeks left of summer and I wasn't enjoying any of it. Lily kept asking me questions about Hogwarts and I kept brushing her off or snapping at her to just ask Mum. Finally, she shouted, "What's wrong with you, Severus? Why are you acting like this?"

So I told her.

"But . . .but you have to take him, Sev! It'd be like losing your arm if you didn't!"

"I know," I said and then I smiled. Finally, someone who understood! "But what can I do? Mum says I can't take a dog to Hogwarts. It's against regulations."

Lily thought for a minute. "I don't see why not. Why don't you write to the Headmaster, Sev? Tell him about you and Gabe. He seemed like a nice man when he talked with my parents about me having magic back in May. I'm sure he'll understand."

I gaped at her. It was so simple. Why hadn't I seen it before?

"Got a pen, Lil?"

I wrote Dumbledore and told him everything about me and my dog. I can't remember the exact words now, but I was very passionate. It took me half-an-hour. Then I mailed the letter with Mum's owl.

I felt a little better then and played with Lily and Gabe down at the park.

A week later I received a reply to my letter.

I was in Lily's yard, helping her plant some sunflowers. The owl flew directly to me. With trembling fingers, I broke the old-fashioned wax seal. Then I slid the parchment out and stared at it for a few moments. Finally I opened it.

Dear Mr. Snape,

I see no reason why you cannot bring your dog to school, provided you bring food and make sure he has a place to stay while you are in class. I recommend you write my gamekeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, he also had a large dog, a boarhound named Fang, who would be delighted to have a playmate during the day. There was a time when many students here had dogs, but it has since fallen out of fashion. However, if your dog is as well-behaved as you say, I am sure he will be no trouble at all.

Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore

Headmaster

"Well? Don't keep me in suspense! What did he say?"

I grinned at her. "He said yes! Guess I'll be going to Hogwarts after all."

Lily cheered and hugged me and then I ran home to tell my mother that her son wasn't going to be a delinquent.

I would like to thank my sister Angela for her help with dog shows and preperation and handling tips, since she bred and showed English springers for years and all her daughters were junior handlers.
 


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