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This heartwarming story is about eight-year-old Jimmy Longwood, who has fallen in love with a Golden Retriever puppy. When his parents explain that their condo does not allow pets, Jimmy is heartbroken. While skiing in Aspen the entire family is killed in an avalanche. Jimmy goes to heaven and meets an angel who decides to send Jimmy back to earth as the very Golden Retriever he’d wanted for his own and to learn the one lesson all human beings must learn…unconditional love.
Jimmy Longwood pressed his face against the pet store window, not
minding the cold. On the other side of the glass was an eight-week-old Golden
Retriever puppy that Jimmy had named “Bubblehead” because the
puppy’s head was unusually large. Bubblehead was just as eager to
see Jimmy and jumped over his five brothers and sisters to stand nose
to nose with Jimmy.
Jimmy’s heart leapt just seeing the adorable puppy.
“Did you miss me, boy? I missed you. Now that school is out for
the holidays, I can visit you every day for as long as I want.”
The puppy licked the glass as if he understood every word Jimmy
had said. As Jimmy walked into the store, Bubblehead followed his
every move through the glass, wagging his tail in anticipation.
A little silver bell tinkled as Jimmy entered the shop. “Hi, ya, Mr.
“Hi, Jimmy. It can’t be time for school to be out already is it?”
“Yep. Three fifteen on the dot.”
“Ever since these puppies were brought in, I could set my clock by
“How is Bubblehead today?”
“He’s perfect, of course. When are you going to take him home
where he belongs?”
Jimmy looked over at Bubblehead longingly. “I’m still negotiating
with my parents.”
“Jimmy, if an eight-year-old boy can’t melt a mother’s heart,
maybe I could help with your sale’s pitch.”
Just then the bell over the door jingled again. Mr. Lenza
brightened as a woman and her young daughter walked in. “Sorry,
“Go right ahead, Mr. Lenza. I just want to talk to Bubblehead for
Mr. Lenza patted Jimmy’s head through the stocking hat he wore,
which normally Jimmy would have instructed others never to do as he
hated people treating him like he was a kid. Mr. Lenza was different.
Besides the fact that he was a pet store owner and loved dogs and cats
almost as much as Jimmy did, Mr. Lenza never said a word to Jimmy
about playing with the animals and he allowed Jimmy to give the
puppies plenty of hugs and even help out around the shop from time to
time. Mr. Lenza was the only person in the world that Jimmy had
confided to that he wanted to be a veterinarian when he grew up.
While the woman spoke to Mr. Lenza, Jimmy picked up
Bubblehead, held him and let the puppy lick his face.
The little girl who was about Jimmy’s same age walked up to him.
“Hi, my name’s Sally. What’s yours?”
Sally smiled as she watched Bubblehead and Jimmy. “He likes
“Really? Then why don’t you take him home? I would,” Sally said
stroking Bubblehead’s back. “He’s got a really big head. Is he
“No way! He’s special. He’s a champion. You should see his
pedigree. And he’s very expensive.”
“Eight hundred dollars.”
“Is that a lot for a dog? I have a cat. Santa brought her to me last
“Santa?” Jimmy’s face screwed up. “You don’t still believe in
Santa, do you?”
“No, but I did last year. And when I did, I got the kitten I wanted,”
Sally replied smugly.
The little girl’s mother finished her shopping with Mr. Lenza and
the little girl had to leave.
“Bye, Jimmy. Merry Christmas.”
“Bye, Sally. Same to you.”
Just as Sally and her mother walked out, Jimmy’s cellular phone
rang. He reached in his backpack and answered it. “Hi, Mom.”
“Sweetheart, I am just about to go back into court and I called the
apartment and you weren’t home yet. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Mom. I was just…er….Christmas shopping.”
“What kind of shopping? You’re not using my Visa again to buy
something on the internet are you?”
“No, Mom. I’m just down the street…”
“Oh, good, would you stop in the market and pick up the order I
called in? He put it on my bill. It’s just some milk and bread and fruit.
It won’t be too heavy to carry home…Jimmy? Where exactly did you
say you were?”
“Er, Mom, hasn’t the bailiff called for you yet? Judges can’t be
late you know.”
“Jimmy, are you at Mr. Lenza’s again?”
Just then the bell jingled and a very elegantly dressed woman in a
mink coat walked in. Jimmy looked up, forgetting that his mother had
been to Mr. Lenza’s with him a half dozen times, but only to indulge
his whims rather than actually considering the purchase of a Golden
“Jimmy, I would know that silver bell anywhere. You are at Mr.
Lenza’s! What have your father and I told you about this puppy
“Mom, Bubblehead is not an issue. He’s a puppy.” Jimmy put the
puppy back in the window to play with his brothers and sisters.
“He’s against the rules in our co-op, Jimmy.”
“But, Mom, I love him. And he loves me. He doesn’t understand
stupid ‘no pet’ rules.”
“And obviously, neither do you, totally. But listen, we’ll talk
about it tonight at dinner. I really do have to go. They’re waiting for
- Don’t forget the groceries, okay?”
Jimmy took out his I-Phone and entered the list. “You sure you
can’t think of anything else? Did you get my peanut butter?”
“Dad’s ‘Chubby Hubby’ ice cream?”
“Better get that, too. Thanks, sweetheart. I love you.”
“Love you, Mom.”
While Jimmy was on the phone to his mother, he didn’t pay much
attention to the beautiful woman nor her conversation with Mr. Lenza.
It wasn’t until he was off the phone that their words came crashing
into his brain.
“I have exactly the Golden Retriever puppy you’d be interested in,
Mrs. Richardson, over here in the window. They are fine puppies, all
of them. Excuse me, Jimmy,” Mr. Lenza said, discreetly shooing
Jimmy away to make room for a buying customer.
Mrs. Richardson smelled like spring flowers, Jimmy thought as she
followed Mr. Lenza to the window. As Jimmy backed away from
them, horror filled his heart.
“Hello, there,” she said sweetly to him, “I’ll bet you’re asking
Santa for a puppy for Christmas, too.”
“I…am. But I can’t have one.”
“Really? Why is that?” She asked.
“My Dad says our building doesn’t allow pets, but I don’t actually
believe it. I think that…”
Mr. Lenza interrupted, knitting his eyebrows. “Jimmy, didn’t I
hear you talking to your mother just now?” Then he turned to Mrs.
Richardson very quickly. “His mother is a judge. Very busy lady.
Important, too.” He turned back to Jimmy. “Maybe you best be
getting along, son.”
Jimmy was very wise to adult ways; he knew that Mr. Lenza was
anxious to make his sale. He could take a hint.
“Yeah, I better be going. Have to get the groceries. Stuff like that.”
Jimmy put his mittens back on before going out into the snow.
“See you tomorrow, Mr. Lenza.”
“Goodbye, Jimmy.” Mr. Lenza opened the door for Jimmy and
closed it behind him.
Jimmy walked just past the shop, then stopped and slammed his
back against the wall, so that Mr. Lenza and Mrs. Richardson could
not see him from their vantage point. He had to know which puppy
she was going to buy.
With his heart in his mouth, Jimmy watched as Mrs. Richardson
picked up all five puppies and inspected them carefully. Then he
watched as she went to the register with Mr. Lenza and then pulled out
her Visa card.
“She bought one! But which one!” He put his hands together and
with his eyes raised to heaven, prayed, “Please God, don’t let it be
Mrs. Richardson finished her transaction with Mr. Lenza, but
oddly, she walked out without taking a puppy with her. Jimmy
watched as she hailed a cab, got in and drove away.
Totally confused, Jimmy walked back in the shop. “Mr. Lenza,
didn’t she buy a puppy?”
“Jimmy, are you back here?”
Jimmy raced to the counter and looking up into Mr. Lenza’s face,
he read the verdict before it was pronounced.
“She bought one, Jimmy. The male, with the big head.”
“That’s the one. I’m sorry. But I have to find homes for these
little guys, Jimmy.”
“But she couldn’t have. She didn’t take him with her.”
“She’s coming back on Christmas Eve. Must be a surprise for
Jimmy’s face went white. Heat of anger mixed with chills of fear.
He felt as if all the blood had drained from his body. He didn’t
understand that his heart was breaking in two and this was what
heartbreak felt like. Tears filled his eyes. “I have only one more day
“I’m sorry, so sorry. I had no idea he meant this much to you.
There are four more…”
“Don’t you understand, Mr. Lenza? There’s only one
Bubblehead!” Jimmy turned to the window and picked up his puppy.
Bubblehead licked Jimmy’s cheek, catching a tear.
Jimmy looked into the puppy’s eager brown eyes as something
magical passed between them. It was as if Jimmy could hear
Bubblehead’s thoughts. Maybe Jimmy was only eight years old. That
didn’t matter. He knew there was some very, very special about
Bubblehead. Somehow he knew that there would never be another
dog for him like this one.
About the Author
Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of over forty-five published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into over twenty-four languages. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid foundation to pen a collection of compelling and informative true stories of teen addicts. Ms. Lanigan’s SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE series for HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING includes LOVE SHADOWS, HEART’S DESIRE , A FINE YEAR FOR LOVE, KATIA’S PROMISE, FEAR OF FALLING, SOPHIE’S PATH, PROTECTING THE SINGLE MOM, FAMILY OF HIS OWN, HIS BABY DILEMMA, RESCUED BY THE FIREFIGHTER and MY RACING HEART (2019).
Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books. She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs. She writes a monthly blog for Heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com.
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