The dark but brightly shimmering eyes were trained on her, unmoving. The little shining, wet black nose was eagerly inching forward, sniffing curiously. The pink tongue hung loosely from thin, black lips. The fur, soft, wiry and warm moved at will under her soft little fingers. The tail waved steadily from side to side, soon becoming so fast it was nothing other than a blur of colour and motion.
He stood, wedged in the corner between two walls, arms and legs crossed as he watched the exchange between his daughter and their best friend. A small smile cracked the straight line formed by his lips as the young girl threw her head back, screaming with laughter. Her father could not help but chuckle himself as her delighted squeals filled the clear air surrounding them. The young girl allowed herself to fall forward again, opening her arms out wide and wrapping them around the soft, warm fur of her constant companion. "Cookie!"
"Cookie," he said, echoing her as he came forward. "Good girl." He knelt down, ruffling the dog's fur with one hand, pulling his daughter into him with the other. She looked up at him, eyes bright. "Daddy!" Her affection turned to him. She twisted slightly, wrapping her arms around him, squeezing around his neck. "April," he said, grunting as he rose to his feet, his little girl nestled into him. "Let Daddy go a bit. Before you choke me!"
"I love you Daddy!" April said softly, burying her face in his neck, but ever so slightly loosening her grip.
"I love you too April." Obediently, Cookie followed a pace behind her master as he wandered toward the bedrooms with April.
"Cookie!" April said loudly at the sight of the family pet, clapping her hands as her father gently set her down in her bed. "Cookie! Cookie! Cookie!"
"Yes Darling," said her father patiently. "It's Cookie." At the sound of her name, the black and tan dog padded lightly across the carpeted floor, stopping at her owner's feet to the side of April's bed and dropping to her bottom. His eyes met hers and he smiled as he leaned down to pat her. His gaze turned from their best friend to his daughter and back again. "My two favourite girls." April's little face contorted a little with the effort of reaching for Cookie, who obligingly stepped closer so the little girl could give her a pat on the head, the only part she could reach.
The smile remained on his lips as he watched them from the doorway of his daughter's room. Cookie stepped onto the mat kept for her beside April's bed and began to circle on the spot in its centre. After a few moments, she settled, lifting her head to meet his eyes. She turned her gaze to April, lying still in her bed before looking back at him, as if to say I'll watch over her. At this, he crossed the room in a few strides, leaning over Cookie's mat to run his finger along the photo frame on the table beside his daughter's bed before bending further to stroke the hair from her eyes and plant a kiss on her forehead. He reached down, giving Cookie a thorough head scratch before crossing the room to the doorway once more. "I love you April," he said. "Sleep well my angel."
He tread the hallway between their rooms carefully, so as not to wake his beautiful little girl. Silently, he changed and slipped under the covers, staring up at the ceiling as he lay still, awaiting sleep to come.
He was almost there when he heard the light footfalls of Cookie entering the room, followed shortly by the small thud as she made the leap onto his bed, curling up beside his covered feet and resting her head down on the covers. It made him smile in his near sleep. They were so lucky to have a dog like Cookie. A dog who was so protective of the both of them. She waited, he knew, until April was fast asleep before coming to join him in sleep. Little did April know the canine wasn't by her side all night, for come morning, when Jack got up, Cookie would pad back to be the first one to greet her little mistress good morning with a friendly nuzzle on the hand and a few licks to arouse her from the dreamy land of nod.