1: The Rescue

1: The Rescue

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

The Rescue

A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.

~Robert Wagner

When I turned eight, we adopted a sweet, timid, Blue Heeler puppy. Skeeter was the runt of her litter, but she made up for her size with grand obedience and abundant intelligence.

My mother soon adopted a canary as well. It filled the house with trilling and chirping—a new song invented after every molt. The bird was a strange, tiny creature, indeed, next to our wholesome, standard-sized brown dog, but Skeeter would sleep beneath its cage, accepting the new family member.

And even while constantly flanked by my faithful dog, I also wanted a different type of animal companion, like my friends had. My parents obliged me by adopting a little hamster who I named Quincy. He lived in a sawdust-filled cage, complete with the requisite wheel, in my room.

I loved Quincy, though our relationship wasn’t very close. I rarely took him out of his cage, except to clean it or, most often, put him in his hamster ball. At first I kept Skeeter away from Quincy when he was out, worried that she, following instinct, would chase and hurt him. After all, she took great pleasure in pouncing on the shrews that lived in the bushes outside. But Skeeter only watched with one small black eyebrow cocked as Quincy rolled his way through the living room, experiencing his captive freedom.

One day, somehow, Quincy went missing from his cage. We were visiting family for the day and when we all returned, with Skeeter in tow, we found the canary happily singing, but the hamster cage bleakly empty.

I’m surprised now by how upset we all were. I cried and we debated where he could have gone, as Skeeter wound her way between our legs, sensing worry. For three days we tiptoed through the house expecting to find Quincy, lifeless or injured, but he was simply gone.

The fourth night, we all, including Skeeter, curled up in front of a movie. I sat on the floor with my back against the couch and, consumed with the screen, didn’t notice that Skeeter had left my side. When I looked up, I saw her approaching with something in her mouth. At first I thought it was one of her prized and well-chewed fuzzy tennis balls, but as she got closer I saw it was of a different shape and color altogether. She held it carefully between her tiny front teeth, gingerly tipped her head and dropped a still living, unharmed Quincy into my lap. He was alive! It was a miracle! He had somehow managed to survive, undetected, in the house for half a week until a very clever canine nose sniffed him out.

But when I looked up at Skeeter, still standing there, watching Quincy and me expectantly, I thought she was the real miracle. This furry member of our family had sensed the value we placed on Quincy. She knew that he was not a rodent to be caught and killed like the poor wild shrews. Skeeter knew we were worried when he was gone and she knew that, as a member of the family, she should help bring him back.

When I set Quincy back in his cage, he sniffed around a bit and then hopped right back on his wheel, as if the past few days were little more than a vacation. Skeeter sat patiently at my feet, happily waiting for the next affection I could offer her. And petting her soft, sweet forehead, I thanked her for showing me the meaning of family. And love.

~Kelsey Kate Bankert

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