I was only twelve years old when I received my greatest gift on Christmas day. I opened a large box to find a tiny eight pound puppy with a Santa hat on inside it. Confused, I looked to my parents when they said,
Immediately, I picked him up out of the box, and declared that he would be named Cooper. From that point on we were the greatest of friends, we were attached. The four legged addition to my family unified and completed us.
I took the best care of Cooper and loved hearing his collar jingle when we ran on our walks. His tan face and big brown eyes melted my heart. One warm Summer day I met my neighbor Jim and his new puppy Baxter. Baxter was a beagle, who Cooper loved more than anybody else. He cried from a hundred feet away dragging me towards them. The two puppies, innocent, playful relationship was adorable to watch, until it abruptly came to an end.
All of a sudden on walks Jim would see us and turn around or pull Baxter away. This was weird to me and made me skeptical. On my walk home from school I stared out the bus window as we drove by a dog who I recognized as Baxter. I got off at the next stop and ran back to Baxter and picked him up. I walked him home, he was very skinny and shaking. It was the first I had seen him in weeks. When I got to Jim’s house I banged on the door yelling,
“Hello, anybody home?” becoming frustrated I yelled again,
“I have your dog, he ran away I don’t know if you noticed”.
Jim opened the door and said,
“Oh thank you, crazy dog escapes all the time”,
As I began to point out how skinny and scared Baxter was, he grabbed him and closed the door in my face. The next three days in a row on the way home from school the same chain of events occured.
On the fourth day I was so frustrated and concerned for Baxter’s safety that I exited the bus, picked him up and took him to my house. Cooper was thrilled to see his long lost friend, but I was not sure that Baxter was ok. He was covered in dirt so I gave him a bath and fed him many meals. I told my parents and they suggested we rush him to the vet, so we did.
The vet asked me, “How did you allow your dog to get in this awful condition, he is so unhealthy?”
“it was a long story, he wasn’t mine I just look after him quite often.”, I told her
I hid Baxter from Jim for nearly two weeks, he did not take notice that he was missing, he did not even seem to care. When I saw him he told me,
“ I lost that stupid dog”
I shot him a look and replied angrily,
“Have you even looked for him?”
He said, “I tried at first, but I gave up”. I walked away disgusted with him.
While walking Cooper and Baxter one day, Jim saw us and yelled out his window,
“That’s my dog you thief, give him back”.
Scared, I ran home and locked my doors. At that point it became abundantly clear to me that Baxter had been severely mistreated, and Jim was not in a good state, he was not himself anymore.
Over the next weeks, Jim would ring my bell and shout,
“Give him back, I will get him one way or the other”.
The threats scared me but I could not return Baxter to his malicious owner. I would not allow an innocent animal to be treated like that. The threats became too much, they were crippling my life. I wrote a note and left it in Jim’s mailbox.
I said, “meet me at the dog park tonight at 7 and we will decide who Baxter belongs to”.
Nervously, I brought my parents with me, and Baxter. Jim showed up twenty minutes late, another example of how irresponsible he was acting. I told him if he wanted his dog back we would let the dog decide, Jim agreed. I placed Baxter in the middle of the park, and put me and Jim on opposite sides.
I anxiously yelled, “GO BAX”.
He ran halfway towards Jim and my heart dropped. He looked back at me and did a 180 degree turn. He ran faster than I had ever seen him run and jumped up on me. I cried and squeezed him tight.
Jim again shouted, “Whatever, take him, I never wanted him anyways”.
Now I had two dogs, and no threats. Months later a for sale sign was placed on Jim’s lawn, and the day the sold sign went up it felt like a second Christmas. The cruel man taught me that no animal deserves to be treated badly, and to stand up when you see someone doing something wrong.