Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Create a Lasting Memory for Someone Else - Part II of III

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(Continued from Part I)

I turned around and slowly closed the gate but was stopped by one of the kids from the other family. He was gently resisting my efforts to close it. Apparently, everyone else wanted to come in the yard too.

What for?

Shrugging my shoulders, I left the gate open and broke into a trot toward my father. When I got there, he was jabbing his finger at the ground. He was pointing at a mass of brownish muck. It took me a minute to realize what it was.

"It's poop," my father said, confirming my worst fears. "Go to the tool shed to get a shovel and scoop this up."

"But Dad," I pleaded, "where did this come from? The cats next door? Why do I have to clean up THEIR MESS?"

"Stephen, get the shovel and clean this up now!"

"Ok, ok, ok. FINE."

I stomped in a huff to the tool shed and emerged with a shovel twice my size. Then I glanced toward the house where everyone from the other family was still watching. Mom took a break from setting the dinner table to step outside with my little sister in tow. Even Bob and Bev from next door came over. Everyone was covering their mouths, giggling like a bunch of schoolgirls.

I didn't find any of this one bit funny. Just what in the world was going on?

Behind the fence, there were acres and acres of trees where I often hiked with my best friend, Tommy. That's where Dad told me to toss it - over the fence and way out of sight. If I threw it far back enough, it would eventually degenerate and fertilize the ground, or so he told me.

Well, that's exactly what I did. Whoooosh........

Putting the shovel away, Dad announced that it was time for dinner.

"Stephen go wash your hands for supper. Use the patio entrance to the house," he said.

The crowd of onlookers were still trying their hardest to contain themselves while I made my way past them.

Like every kid with enough imagination and smarts, I decided to take full advantage of the attention I was getting. Backing up several feet and springloading myself into position like a runner at the high school track meet, I ran at blinding speed and leapt onto the elevated patio, bypassing the concrete steps. Satisified, I turned and waved to my adoring fans like Superman.

Little did I know my life would forever change in the next few seconds.

About to slide the patio screen door open, a movement in the corner startled me. Jerking my head to the left, what I saw sent shock waves throughout my pint-sized body.

Nestled on a cozy blanket was the cutest German Shepherd puppy I had ever seen. She couldn't have been more than a few weeks old. Her jet black and tan body quivered even though it was summer. Kneeling down, I gently picked it up and cradled the puppy in my arms. Bringing her up to eye level, I quietly murmured that I would take very good care of her.

"Your name is Champ!" I declared.

In response she licked me all over as if she understood. The smell of puppy breath made me absolutely delirious with happiness.

I turned around to see everyone clapping and smiling. Mom and Dad were wiping away tears. My little sister, on the other hand, was throwing a fierce temper tandrum - she was not enjoying this one bit!

That night I babbled incessantly throughout dinner - no one could understand a word I was saying. It was just as well - I was in a world of my own, too giddy to notice.

The rest of my childhood flew by with Champ constantly at my side. Every night she slept soundly beside my bed and when I finally got a bike, she galloped happily alongside like a free moving spirit. She was housebroken in record time and put through my own custom-made obeidence training program. No one loved her more than me.

To be continued......
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