What’s a Miracle, Granddad?

What’s a Miracle, Granddad?

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

What’s a Miracle, Granddad?

Decisions determine destiny.

Frederick Speakman

“What’s a miracle, Granddad?” asked five-year-old Sam.

He looked up at me with his innocent, wide eyes.

I did know of a miracle. It happened to a friend of mine named Bart.

One day, Bart decided he wanted to have a dog. Bart’s parents agreed to let him get a dog from the animal shelter, but they wanted to help pick it out. Bart agreed.

The next morning, Bart and his parents drove to the local animal shelter. There were two dogs that Bart liked. It was very difficult, but Bart finally picked one. He named him Scruffy. Scruffy looked exactly like his namesake; he was a small, terrier type with hair going in all directions. His color was sort of brown and sort of red, and there was even gray in there too. He was a very energetic dog, never still for a second. He just wanted to play and run around.

Bart’s parents did not like Scruffy at all. Scruffy was too energetic for them. He was not a good-looking dog. The other dog, called Lady, was a very pretty dog. Lady had quiet manners and was a handsome beagle.

Bart agreed that Lady was a much prettier dog, and gentler. Since his parents insisted, he agreed to adopt Lady and not Scruffy.

Bart held Lady all the way home. She slept in Bart’s room that night and the next night, too. Bart liked having her near him. He started to love that sweet dog.

On the third day, tragedy struck. For no apparent reason, and with no warning, Lady quietly died in her sleep. It was a tragic moment for the family.

Bart cried and cried. His mother did, too. His father cried a little, also. Bart felt heartbroken. Lady had become the love of his life.

The next morning, after they had laid Lady to rest, Bart said, “Mom, Dad, I really liked the other dog, Scruffy. I know he liked me, too. Can’t we go back and get him?”

His parents told him to forget Scruffy because three days had gone by, and it would be too late.

“Too late? Too late for what?” he asked.

They explained that the animal shelter only keeps stray dogs for three days, and if they are not adopted the shelter has to do something about it.

“Like what?” asked Bart, not wanting to hear the answer.

“They have to put them to sleep,” said his mother gently. His father put his arm around Bart and added, “There are just too many dogs and cats in the city, Bart. The shelter only has so much money, and so few volunteers to take care of them. The animals do not suffer at all. A veterinarian just puts them to sleep. It is done very quietly and painlessly.”

“I guess they have no other choice,” Bart said. “But let’s go back anyway. Maybe we can save Scruffy.”

Bart’s parents argued against going back. They said it was too late. There was no way that Scruffy could still be in the shelter. They warned Bart not to expect anything but disappointment.

But Bart’s parents drove him back to the shelter. Bart’s dad parked the car and sighed. He had seen the veterinarian’s car parked in the official’s spot. He did not want to tell Bart that this was the veterinarian who put the animals to sleep.

The three of them entered the shelter. They went directly to the wire cage that had held Scruffy three days before. It was empty!

“Scruffy is gone,” said Bart. “Mom, Dad, he’s gone.”

“We tried to tell you. Try to understand,” said his mother.

“Can I help you folks?” said a voice.

Bart whirled around and saw a young woman in a white coat.

“Were you looking for a dog to adopt?” she said.

“Yes,” said Bart. “I want the dog that was here, in this cage. The dog is gone. I want that dog.”

“The veterinarian was late getting here today because of car trouble. What you want is in that room over there.” She pointed to a door.

Bart bolted past her and raced through the door. It was marked “PRIVATE—KEEP OUT.” In the middle of the room, on a cold steel table was Scruffy. He was strapped down. His legs were kicking. His big brown eyes were wide with fear and his tongue was hanging from the side of his mouth. Standing over him was the vet, an ugly hypodermic needle in his hand.

Bart jumped into the room. He screamed at the veterinarian, “Stop! Stop, please,” said Bart. “I want that dog. Don’t kill him!”

Bart got his dog, and Scruffy still lives with Bart today.

Do you know what a miracle is now, Sam?

Lew Talmadge

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