Why did they beat me? I loved them dearly. All I ever truly wanted was their love and attention but they seemed to care little for me. I ran away…far away into the surrounding forest. Humans were a heartless bunch or…so I had originally thought. That was until I found her. She was lost and alone in the wilderness, obviously scared and succumbing to exposure of the elements. I felt this incredible need to help her…to save her from a most unfortunate fate.
She was so young and innocent. She couldn’t have been more than six years of age. I had felt it my duty to protect her…to watch over her at least until others arrived that could care for her. If she turned out to be as bad as my previous captors then I would leave yet again but I needed to take that chance. In the end I was taken in by a loving family who granted me untold happiness. I protected her many times in our life together, saving her from a raging house fire and countless incompatible suitors. In the end I guess we saved each other.
Annie sat quivering uncontrollably up against a tree her lightweight coat was no match for the penetrating cold that chilled her to the bone. She was in great danger for I had noticed a lurking mountain lion in the area searching for its next meal. Slowly, cautiously I walked toward Annie. When our eyes met she immediately tensed up and I could smell the fear emanating from every pore of her body. If I could sense her terror surely other nearby predators could as well. If I wanted to save her I would need to act fast.
I nuzzled her with my cold, wet nose and licked her hand gently. My big brown eyes conveyed friendship as I beckoned her to follow me to safety. Annie seemed to understand my intentions almost immediately and so rose quickly to her weary feet. I wagged my tail happily and whined with enthusiasm.
In the background I could hear the approaching danger. It was lurking, watching our every move and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. I turned quickly to face our would-be attacker. Met with the hungry eyes of a predator I stood my ground with teeth bared, a deep baritone growl protruding from my lungs, and the hair on my back standing on end. I wanted to appear as large and as threatening as possible. I began to drool uncontrollably as I barked ferociously at the stalking lioness.
Annie was so frightened that she had been frozen in place. I could hear faint whimpers flowing from her lips. My protective instinct kicked into high gear as I prowled toward the lioness. She seemed unsure at first, hesitant to attack a creature that seemed so bold and brazen. But she was hungry and not about to give up a meal so readily.
She leapt at me with sharp, powerful claws extended but I dodged her attack. Her attention turned to Annie and at that moment I went into a blinding rage. NO! I leapt onto her back and torn savagely into her flesh. She let out a guttural growl and tossed me off of her back. She threw in a couple of good licks but I would not give in so easily. It wasn’t long before she bid a hasty retreat, admitting defeat and heading for the safety of the woods. Limping toward Annie I was met with a grateful hug and compassionate tears that matted the hair on my shoulder. My injuries were serious but not fatal.
I led Annie to a small, empty cabin in the forest not far from our current location. It looked to be someone’s summer home, a place people would retreat to during the inviting weather of spring and summer. The door was locked but I sniffed around for a bit before I found a window that was loose. I nudged at Annie and she seemed to understand the message I was trying to convey. Standing on a wooden bench she used all of her strength to push the window open enough for me to slip inside. I ran to the door and unlocked the old hinge, leading her inside to the safety and comfort of the cabin.
Annie stumbled in shaking violently from the cold and our encounter with the hungry mountain lion. I nudged her toward the couch and ran throughout the cabin in search of as many blankets as I could find. The cabin had been well maintained and I was able to cover Annie in a sea of blankets for warmth. She beckoned me to lie with her still terrified and extremely exhausted. She draped her arm over my shoulders and I rested my weary head next to hers. An overwhelming feeling of warmth and happiness washed over me as we both drifted off into dreamland.
I awoke to the distant sound of people yelling frantically. I knew…I just knew they were searching for Annie. I had to direct them to her…it was her only chance at survival. The weather was turning bad and we had no food to speak of inside that little cabin. I needed to bring help to this poor lost little girl.
Emerging from my place along her side I stared into her innocent face. She was still sound asleep. I opened the door and raced outside toward the direction of those calling desperately for this child. I barked wildly and it seemed to catch their attention. They were brandishing weapons which caused me to halt suddenly. My former master held just such a weapon and would use the butt of it to punish me for whatever wrongs he felt I had committed.
Pushing past my fear for Annie’s sake I wagged my tail excitedly and barked loudly, turning around in circles several times before sprinting in the direction of the cabin where I had left the sleeping little girl. They followed me without question all their hopes riding upon the actions of a badly mangled canine. They burst into the cabin behind me and the woman screamed Annie’s name with relieved delight. Annie woke up suddenly and held her arms out toward her mother.
I sat down quietly and watched in envy at the displays of love and devotion being demonstrated openly before me. That’s what I had wanted all along. Just to be loved. Annie pointed at me and said that I had saved her from a mean kitty. The father who had been brandishing the gun earlier put down his weapon and walked cautiously toward me. I wagged my tail happily trying to reassure him that I was not a threat as he ran his hand along my coat. He shouted something at the other man who had been accompanying them and a message was conveyed into a black box he held in his hand that crackled loudly.
I was taken to a place that smelled of strong medicinal concoctions and rang loudly with the noises of other animals. It was chaotic and unnerving. The stress and confusion of that place had me on edge.
Once I had been examined by the occupants of this dwelling I was led outside to the parking lot. Annie came bounding toward me and I tugged at the leash trying to get to her. She squealed with delight at the sight of me and I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and excitement flowing through my body.
Annie and her family took me home with them. They had adopted me as one of their own. I was now a part of their clan. Over the years I grew to love and trust them. Never did they raise a hand to me. I did my best to earn their love for they had been so kind as to open their hearts and their home to a homely mutt such as myself. I guess humans were not so bad after all but in fact could be a very kind-hearted and loving species.
At one point the family had endured a devastating house fire. Annie was only ten years old at the time and fast asleep in her room. The hallway had become engulfed in flames. I had been sleeping soundly at the foot of her bed. I saw the flames licking the bottom of the door as a thick black smoke began to billow into the bedroom. Running to the window I pushed her toy chest over to the sill, jumped upon it and threw my body into the glass causing it to break into a thousand glittering shards.
Annie awoke to the sound of the shattering glass as she rubbed her eyes in confusion. I ran to her side gently grabbed a hold of her pajama collar and tugged at her. She knew something was wrong and trusted me to lead her to safety. We went out the window onto the roof and I barked at the people who had gathered below us. The firemen immediately extended a ladder and sent someone to retrieve the little girl first then I second. Just as the fireman that had been carrying me stepped on the last rung of the ladder there was a loud explosion accompanied by a large fireball that had burst through the window Annie and I had just escaped through. They called me a hero but I was just protecting my family.
The bond between Annie and I only grew stronger each passing day. We were the best of friends, inseparable, and devoted to one another. If I didn’t like a guy she was dating she dumped him, no questions asked. Her happiness was all that mattered to me. The years flew by and I found that my body was slowly beginning to give out. I could no longer romp and play as I once did with Annie.
One cold, wintry afternoon Annie and I went for a ride to the house in the forest where we had first met. Her family had purchased that cabin some years back and we had spent many glorious summers boating on the lake and taking long hikes through the woods. But this trip was different and I understood that. My body was giving out. I could feel death fast approaching but I was not frightened. With Annie by my side I had nothing to fear.
Sitting in front of a roaring fire with my head on her lap I could feel her sadness consume her. I licked her hand and stared up at her with reassuring eyes. She stroked my coat and whispered her goodbyes into my ear. As the life drained from my body I vowed to always watch over her. I would be her guardian for all eternity. Just as I had saved her she had saved me. As I drifted off into a peaceful darkness I was comforted by the fact that Annie would love again…I would make certain of that.