MY LADY

MY LADY

From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

My Lady

“Grrrrrrr.”

The soft growl made me stop in my tracks as I was walking across my neighbor’s backyard. Was it a bear? Maybe a wolverine had gotten into the yard in search of food.

My eyes came to rest on the shadows under the small fishing boat that was up on blocks. As they became adjusted to the dark, I realized that the growl was coming from a large dog.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m just passing through.”

The dog stared at me, its short black coat dull and matted, then it groaned and laid its large head on its paws. I paused for a moment, taking in how skinny it was, and then realized that my neighbors didn’t have a dog. I knew what I needed to do. I whispered to the dog, “I’ll be right back . . . don’t go anywhere.”

I ran to my house, my heart pounding as I raced through the door, grabbed a paper bag, and filled it with some food. I raced back out into the early spring evening. The air made my breath fog as I panted, and the chill froze my fingers as I clutched the little bag of food.

When I got to the boat, I slowed down. The dog was too tired and hungry to even lift its head. I came closer carefully and noticed that it was a girl. I placed the food on the grass in front of her and moved back, ready to bolt if she was mean.

“It’s okay, girl. I brought you some food,” I said.

She lifted up her large head and cocked it to the side as though she was deciding whether to believe me or not. Then, with a loud groan, she stood up and walked to the food. It disappeared in no time. When she finished, she sat down and stared at me. I knew without a doubt that she wanted more.

“I can get you more, but you need to stay right here,” I explained as I started to back up. “Stay here, okay?”

I ran back through the yard to my house, my thoughts on nothing except the dog. When I stepped through the doors, I realized that I was late getting home. My dad was waiting for me.

“Where have you been, Sirena?” he asked.

My breath came out in gasps as I explained, “There is a sick dog in the neighbor’s yard, and I was giving her some food.”

My dad looked at me, sighed, and then started out the door with me following close behind. To our surprise, we found the skinny dog sitting in our driveway, ears forward, waiting for me. My dad went to reach for her only to have her skitter away. She looked at him, eyes big with fear, and then she looked at me and ran behind me to hide. Laughing, my dad said, “Looks like you have a patient.”

I was overjoyed and got busy taking care of her. I set up a bed for her in the laundry room and put out some food and water. As I comforted her, I realized that we had already become friends. I couldn’t bear to send her off to the dog shelter, so I walked into the kitchen to plead my case. I explained to my parents how I would walk her and care for her. I told them that I wasn’t too young to have a pet, and I could prove it to them. In the end, it was decided that I could care for her while we looked for her owner.

As the days went by, no one came to claim her, and finally my parents let me keep her. I named her Lady, and she quickly became my best friend.

Months later, as I was walking down the road with Lady, a dark car pulled up alongside us. Lady glanced over, and then started jumping and barking. A large smile spread across her face. I knew before the car door even opened that Lady had found her original owner.

He was tall and thin, with large brown hands that hugged and patted Lady. She wriggled in his arms, licking his long face, and I could see the happiness in his brown eyes as he looked up at me. “I’ve been looking for Rocky,” he said to me. “It looks like you have been taking good care of her.”

So Lady’s real name was Rocky. I blinked the tears from my eyes as I looked at him. “Is she your dog?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yes, she is. She ran away a few months ago, and I couldn’t find her. I’m glad she found someone to take care of her.”

My hands loosened on the leash as I looked at her. She was so happy and excited, dancing in circles, tongue hanging out the side of her mouth as she looked between us. My words came in bursts. “So . . . I guess . . . you want her . . . back, huh? She’s yours . . . and she’s a really good dog. She should go with you.”

The man looked at my outstretched hand for a few minutes, his brown eyes thoughtful. Then he stood up, smiled, and said, “It looks like she’s happy right where she is. I wouldn’t feel right taking her from someone she needs. So I think you should keep her, if you still want her.”

A smile lit up my face as I nodded, too happy to say anything. I watched him climb back into his car and slowly drive away, waving to us as he did. My steps were light as I continued walking, Lady in step beside me, right where she belonged.

Sirena Van Schaik

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