My Balto

July 17, 2008
By Candice Vega, Albrightsville, PA

From what I can remember, there has only been one animal I could give every ounce of my love to. He was my childhood companion. His name was Balto, and he was like the brother I never had. He meant the world to me. I don’t think there will ever be another animal I love more than Balto.
When we first got Balto, he was the family dog, but within a few weeks, everyone knew he was my dog. Whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on, he was there for me. All my pain would disappear when I looked into his eyes. He made sure I felt better or stopped crying before he left my side. When tears fell from my eyes, he'd jump up and lick my face, letting me know he was there for me. Until a smile appeared on my face, he would rest his head on my lap. As I gazed into his big brown eyes puppy, I couldn’t help but smile.
The one thing that I loved about him was, when one of us were sick, he would stay by our side. I remember when I had laryngitis; he didn’t leave me at all unless it was to help me. See, since I had laryngitis, I could hardly speak. So, whenever I wanted a drink or something, Balto would let my mother know. Whenever I would struggle to yell for my mom, Balto would realize that I was trying to get someone’s attention. So, he would prance into the living room, and search for my mom. The minute he found her, he would dash towards her and pull on her pants’ leg. When he finally had my mom’s attention, he would proceed back to my room. He would take a few steps, and then look back at my mother. If she was following behind him, then he’d walk into my room. If she wasn’t following him, then he would walk back to her, and try to pull her back to my room. Then, after she followed behind him, he would walk back to my room. He would sit next to me, until my mother finally arrived in my room. Once she came in, he would knock down the cup I had on the table.. My mother would pick up the cup, and Balto would run into the kitchen and sit by the refrigerator. Then my mother would follow Balto into the kitchen. After she would open the fridge, he would stare at some juice. While she was pouring the drink, he would run back to my room and sit next to me. As my mom would hand me the drink, she couldn’t help but laugh at how funny it was for him to go through all that trouble, just to help me. That’s my best memory of Balto, and I don’t think it will ever leave my mind.
I have many good memories of Balto. He was always there for me, to be my special friend. For example, during summer vacation, whenever my older sister and her friends would ditch me, I would attach Balto to his leash and go for a stroll with him. I don’t actually know how, but most of the time, we’d turn up on the other end of the trails. Then we would have to rush back to my house, before the clock struck 6 o’clock. Let me tell you, trying to keep up with this dog was torture. By the time we’d get home, I was out of breath and my legs felt like they had been ripped apart. Of course, Balto didn’t feel any pain at all because he lived for this. Balto was a runner, but the minute he saw I was in pain, he would rush over to me to make sure I was okay.
Sadly, I lost Balto when I was only eleven, on a cold winter day when I had to go to a Girl Scout meeting. There was ice everywhere because a few days before there had been an ice storm. My sister, as usual, was rushing everyone out of the house. I never knew why she wanted us to rush out of the house to go to Girl Scouts. She never even liked it. Before we left, my mom told my sister and me that she was going to walk Balto. I knew it was a bad idea to let her walk him because it was too slippery. She was already having a hard time walking out of the driveway, so I thought the road was probably going to be worse. Now that I look back on it, I regret not saying anything to her. To my surprise, she had an easier time walking on the road. So, I figured everything was okay until my mother’s foot slipped backward and she lost her footing. She fell to the ground, and Balto got away. My sister and I broke open the car door and ran over to see if my mom was okay. She told us she was fine, but she didn’t know where Balto had run off to. I didn’t care about going to Girl Scouts anymore; all I wanted to do was find my Balto. It seemed like everything else in the world didn’t matter, unless Balto was there with me. My sister and my mother insisted that I go to Girl Scouts, and she’d look for Balto while we were out. At first I rejected this idea, but after awhile, I gave in because my mother gave me her word that Balto was safe, wherever he was, and that we would find him. I wiped away the tears from my eyes, and we all walked back to the car. I had a bad feeling that I shouldn’t have left, without finding him first.
We finally arrived at the firehouse, and my mother dropped us off. Everyone knew there was something wrong with me. My sister was annoyed that I was getting most of the attention. People kept asking me what was wrong, but the words just wouldn’t come out. I just kept quiet for most of the meeting. All I was kept thinking was “Did my mom catch him yet? Is he safe? Does he know I miss him?” I couldn’t stop thinking about Balto; I just wanted him near me. and to know that he was safe.
Three hours passed, and it was time for my mother to come pick us up. When I heard my mom’s car beep, I dragged my sister outside with me. I was so happy she was there because I knew she had Balto. She had him. She had to. I flung open the car door, waiting for a dog to jump into my arms. To my surprise, this did not happen. “Maybe he’s at home waiting for me!” I thought quietly to myself. I asked my mom if she had caught him or not. She didn’t speak; she just handed me a black shopping bag. Terrified to open it, I quickly reached my hand inside it and took out what was in there.
A stream of tears fell from my eyes when I realized that it was Balto's choke collar. I asked my mom if he was okay, and she explained to me what had happened. She had went to the store, after dropping us off, to get some treats for Balto. It took about an hour until she got home, and there was a different car in the driveway. My mother didn’t recognize the car either. She got out of the car and saw a woman standing on our deck, pacing. She ran up to woman and when she asked the woman why she was at our house, the woman broke down in tears and handed my mom Balto's choke collar. The woman explained how she had accidentally hit Balto with her truck, and she didn’t have the heart to just leave his body there. So, she had deposed of him right away.
After my mom finished telling me what had happened, my body and mind filled with anger and sadness. It was a quiet ride home. I didn’t really talk for the next three weeks. It was just too hard losing someone that had made such a huge impact on my life.
I always wish Balto was still with me until this day. There won’t be another animal that I will love more than Balto. But, the wonderful memory of this loving dog will stay in my heart forever.

The author's comments:
This is a story about a dog that changed my life. This story is completely true. Till this day, I still miss that dog.

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