Dudley wasn’t Lily’s dog, but they shared a secret.

Lily had finally figured it out and realized that Dudley had been trying to let her know for a while.

Dudley had been her dad’s dog, and they were inseparable. Dudley sat by the door at night waiting for her dad to come home and slept at his feet during TV time. And after dad went to bed, Dudley would jump up on the bed with him until Kathy, her dad’s second wife, shooed him off, and he would sleep on her dad’s discarded clothes, as if trying to stay close to him.

Kathy, was not a fan of the dog, shoving him off the couch whenever he climbed up, and refusing to let him on the bed with them, where he’d slept before they got married. Kathy argued with Lily’s dad about Dudley on a regular basis, complaining about the access the dog was allowed. She even accused her dad of liking the dog more than her. And when her dad had disappeared, Kathy locked the dog out of her bedroom.

Dudley had started to change right after Lily’s dad disappeared. Kathy told everyone that Lily’s dad had left them for another woman. She had woken up one morning to find Dudley at the side of her bed, and her father gone. She wanted to call the police, but Kathy said there was no point, her father did not want to be with them and wasn’t coming back. Lily didn’t believe it.

Dudley became very protective of Lily. He went everywhere with her and growled if Kathy raised her voice at Lily. Her dad had only been gone for a short time when Kathy started going out at night, leaving Lily alone with Dudley, who stayed faithfully by her side, and growled at Kathy when she came home.

Then, one night, Kathy brought Kent home and Dudley got so upset he had to be locked in the basement. Lily knew something was wrong – with Kent, with Kathy, with Kent and Kathy.

When Lily got up the next morning, she let Dudley out of the basement, and he bolted through the unlocked doggie door and straight toward the woods. Dudley never went into the woods, or at least not by himself.

“Dudley,” she screamed. She was concerned that Dudley would run away or get lost, and she ran after him.

The farther Lily got away from the house, the darker the woods got. ”Dudley?” she called out, stopping periodically to listen for a response.

Lily was starting to get worried when she finally heard Dudley bark, off to the left. She slowly crawled over the fallen tree limbs, pushing smaller branches out of her way as she worked her way toward Dudley’s bark.

She saw Dudley sitting at the edge of a small clearing. As she approached the clearing, she noticed something shiny. Dudley had dug in the leaves and soft dirt and uncovered something that he was now watching over.

Lily knew what it was before she knelt down to look – her father’s bracelet. She had given him the bracelet, made from two silver spoons, for Father’s Day. It was the first gift she had ever bought him by herself.

Later that morning, Lily stood with Dudley as the police took Kent and Kathy away in handcuffs. Dudley barked as they put the two of them in the back of a police car, and then stood quietly by Lily and watched them drive off. Lily reached down and ruffled the fur on the top of Dudley’s head, and said, “I know, Dad. Me too!”