First Encounters

I still remember the first day my little sister summoned enough courage to pet our dog. I was surprised that it hadn’t happened earlier, seeing as our dog, Bunny is a small Maltese who wouldn’t hurt a fly. My sister, Lara, was only two years old at the time and was beginning to discover the world around her.

Nesa Salihovic

Lara was still hesitant. She knew, of course, that Bunny wouldn’t hurt her; she was trained very well since puppyhood not to bite, scratch, or bark at kids. Bunny is generally a very hyperactive five-year-old dog, which acts more like a puppy. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her stay in one spot longer than ten minutes, other than the time we spayed her, and she had no other choice than to sleep. You can clap your hands twice, and Bunny will run five laps around the living room, looking for a playmate. If you pat your chest, she’ll jump up into your arms, whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. She stands patiently by the door if she needs to relieve herself, waiting for somebody to let her outside.

Bunny has never bitten or scratched any of us hard enough to leave a mark, yet despite all this, my younger sister was afraid to touch her. We used to try constantly, even putting her in Lara’s crib at one point to see if she would give in and pet her then, but still – nothing. I remember them; Bunny sitting quietly in one corner of the small crib, and Lara in the other, and they just stared and stared at each other. Neither of them wanted to make a move first.

Eventually, we gave up. My parents and I decided to leave them be and that it would happen on its own when the time was right.

And it turns out that’s precisely what happened. I was sitting in the living room that day, watching a movie. My parents were out of the house, and it was just my sister and me, and Bunny, of course. In my peripheral vision, I could see Bunny walking around, sniffing the floor for any crumbs she could find (she loves to eat), and then stopping by the large patio window to look outside. At that exact moment, I had a voice in the back of my mind, a nagging gut feeling telling me to get up and see where my sister was. I knew she was playing with her toys, but I realized I hadn’t heard her say anything in a while.

When I looked to theside, I saw my sister on her hands and knees, slowly crawling towards Buddy.

It wasn’t like Bunny hadn’t seen her. She had, but she decided to stay still and watch Lara as she got closer. Thankfully, I have my phone on me at all times, so I quickly opened my camera and took a picture of the perfect moment, just as my sister was reaching her hand out to pet Bunny. I knew my parents wouldn’t believe me if I told them, so I needed proof. After that initial moment of Lara reaching toward her, I saw Bunny take a careful step toward her, and to my surprise, Lara didn’t back away! She placed her fingers on the top of Bunny’s head and pet her gently.

When Bunny realized Lara was comfortable enough, her tail started wagging from happiness, and she started licking Lara’s hand. This licking made Bunny laugh harder than I’d ever seen her laugh, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Bunny jumped on her, almost knocking her onto her back! Even my parents couldn’t believe it until I showed them the picture, and they were even more surprised than me when they saw Lara sitting next to Bunny on the couch, resting her hand on her back while they both watched cartoons. After that day, the two of them have become inseparable. Lara is five years old now, and she always tells everybody that Bunny is her best friend.

child and dog become friends
Lara approaches Bunny and the two begin a friendship

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