Today is my son’s birthday. It was also our big yellow lab Angus’s birthday.
The following story was first published in the Los Angeles Times Sunday paper in the Kids’ Reading Room section. It’s the true story of my son’s second grade birthday party. I repost this story each year in honor or my son and Angus.
A Birthday for the Dogs
“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”
“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”
I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks.
“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”
“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.
“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.
“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents are too much for one eight-year-old. It’s decadent.”
“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.
I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.
“I have a great idea!”
“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.
“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”
“Ah?” Mom made a weird swallowing noise.
“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”
In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.
Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large licorice jar decorated with photos of Angus.
Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.
Happy birthday, son! We miss you, Angus!
A beautiful story and a great cause Elizabeth! Happy Birthday to your son too. Sounds like a special young man. Wow, raising $1600, in lieu of presents, that’s awesome. Happy birthday in heaven too Angus. Love to hear more about that experience! 🎉🎁😎😎😎😎
The birthday fundraiser got some traction — pre social media days. Friends of mine and clients of my husband would stop us around town and donate! Thank you for your kind words.
That is nice. Do you have plans to visit? What will he be doing for his birthday?
I think the next visit will be my kids joining us in Mexico. They were excited to see Puerto Penasco. He and a friend from college with the same birthdays were going to have a party. The other parents were hosting at their beautiful Bay Area home.
Love this story EA!
Thank you, Deb. I took my son to Guide Dogs with his birthday money and they were so appreciative. They gave him a yellow lab statue and invited him to a graduation where they gave him and Angus a bunch of presents.
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth! 🥰
The Los Angeles Times used to have a children’s section in their Sunday paper. I was one of the writers under contract to submit stories. It was a nice opportunity but it eventually got cut.
So terrific that they offered those opportunities — super cool…but I’m sad it’s gone by the wayside. Thank you so much for sharing with us! 😘
Thank you for reading! 💕
What a great story and do worth telling each year. Happy birthday Robert and Angus!
I miss Angus! He was at my side for 15 years. My son is in the Bay Area so I miss him too!
Awesome! Happy Birthday to your son!
What a heartwarming story! Your son has a good heart. 🥰
Thank you! Yes, he does have a good heart.
What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing
You’re welcome ☺️
Oh, oh, oh – this is so sweet! What a great story about a kind and smart boy, wonderful dog, and a fantastic mom! Happy birthday to your son!
Wow! All those kind comments 💕💕💕
What a lovely, sweet story!
Aww, Happy Birthday to your son!!
Sweet 💕 Hope you’re feeling better today .
Thank you. Unfortunately, I’m feeling sick today. Maybe tomorrow?
I hope so. When we had Covid, the only thing that helped at all was sleep. I took a lot of Benadryl.
This makes me smile. Such a great kid you’ve raised, with a good heart, and a sweet dog. Happy birthday to all, especially our beloved pets. Hope you’re feeling better! Hugs, C
We are feeling better, but it’s taking longer than we expected. Thanks for the sweet comments.