By the time Captain Jack made his decision, the man had tossed a cookie to him to get his attention. The puppy was starving, so of course he ate it. Immediately he started to feel dizzy and weak. He fell over on his side, and everything went dark. He felt the way he had felt months ago after the jellyfish had stung him in the ocean. Both then and now, he couldn’t move at all. He could feel what was happening to him, but he couldn’t move a muscle. He could feel something being placed around his neck. Then he felt his motionless body being picked up and tossed onto a hard, cold surface.

What in the world was happening? Captain Jack thought. He couldn’t believe that just one moment ago, he was in a park wanting to play with the children there. It seemed as if his whole world had changed within seconds of that. He could smell other dogs, and he could hear their barking. But he had no idea where he was. Then he heard the truck’s door slam. He again smelled that familiar odor of gasoline fumes, just like in the garage where he had been living all alone in the box before the big windstorm hit and changed his life forever. Captain Jack heard the deep rumbling of the vehicle’s motor. He knew the truck he was lying in was moving. But he didn’t know where he was being taken.

The vehicle stopped after a few minutes, but Captain Jack still couldn’t see outside. He could hear even more barking. Then he smelled that horrible odor again. He was beginning to get his balance back when the burly man suddenly opened the door, picked him up, and carried him into the building covered with graffiti that Captain Jack had seen earlier. That building was what smelled so bad.

Captain Jack was horrified when the man stuck him with a needle and then placed him in a noisy, smelly cage with three other dogs about his size. The scared, intimidated puppy was still weak and off balance as the other dogs came over and sniffed him. “I hope they don’t hurt me,” he whined to himself. And he let out a pitiful, scared whimper.

All three dogs backed away from Captain Jack since they didn’t know if he would be nice to them or not. They decided to show him some compassion. Dogs are like that. They’re not usually looking for conflict. They all just want to get along. Often it’s when humans get involved and chain dogs outdoors or force them to do things they don’t want to do that problems happen between dogs.

It turned out that the other three dogs in the cage with Captain Jack were pretty nice. The puppy began getting better acquainted with them later in the day once all the humans had left and things calmed down somewhat. The three dogs included a little black dog with white paws, a fuzzy brown dog about Captain Jack’s size, and a medium-sized dog with really bad skin and sores all over her body.

Captain Jack wanted to get to know each of their stories and how they got there. But none of the three wanted to tell a story that night. Each of the four little dogs crawled into a corner of the smelly cage. They all curled their bodies around as tightly as they could and gradually fell asleep on the hard, cold floor.

Morning came far too soon for the caged dogs, and the humans returned. They squirted hoses and sprayed smelly cleaner everywhere. One at a time, each dog cage was cleaned, and that meant that each dog had a chance to go outdoors for a few precious minutes. Outdoors in the yard, the dogs were able to get better acquainted.

The little black dog with white paws was the first to share. He elaborated, “I had a nice home where people loved me. Then one day they left. I was left all alone for a long time, and I was very hungry. Then a nice woman came to my home, fed me, and brought me here. She was caring and compassionate to me. Sometimes she still comes here to walk me. She always says, ‘Poor little Midnight (which is what she named me), not many people want black dogs. We’ll keep trying as hard as we can to find you the perfect home. Don’t be sad, Midnight. Don’t give up. I won’t give up on you.’ But I haven’t seen her in quite a while. I really hope she’s okay.”

When Midnight finished, the dog with bad skin and sores all over her body started to tell them her story.

But almost as soon as she started to share with the other dogs, each dog in the yard was lassoed around the neck with a rope. All the dogs were put back into those smelly cages. It seemed as if the cleaner used to clean the cages had done no good at all.

Captain Jack looked forward to hearing more about the dogs that lived in his cage. However it was way too noisy in the graffiti-covered, smelly building. All the dogs ate their breakfast and then took a nap, hoping against hope they would be in a better place when they awoke.

Story Discussion Tips:
  1. Did anyone or any animal(s) show Captain Jack compassion in this month’s story? How?
  2. How do you think Captain Jack felt when he was first placed into the smelly cage in the shelter with three other dogs he didn’t know? Why did he feel that way?
  3. What could the burly man have done differently when he first placed Captain Jack in the cage with the three other dogs? If he had done something different, do you think Captain Jack would’ve reacted differently? Do you think the other three dogs might have reacted differently as well?
  4. What would you have done if you had been the human in this story?
  5. Do you have someone who has shown you compassion? What did that person say or do to show you compassion? How did what the person said and/or did make you feel? Did it make you feel any better? Any worse?
Humane Education Follow-Up Activities:

Think of ways you can show compassion to either a human or an animal. Write three ways you could show compassion. Keep your list somewhere where you can refer to it often.

Draw a picture illustrating one or more of those ways of showing compassion. Show someone your picture, and tell them what it portrays about showing compassion.

You may want to display your list and your picture or pictures on a bulletin board, closet door, bedroom door, or wall in your bedroom, with your parent’s permission and help.

Organization of the Month:
Russell Rescue

Russell Rescue, Inc. (RRI) is a network of volunteers dedicated to placing unwanted or abandoned Jack Russells into permanent homes. RRI arranges for emergency rescues throughout the country, and gathers information designed to match appropriate permanent and temporary homes. It is funded by donations and supported by Jack Russell Terrier lovers and volunteers throughout the world.

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