The three of them walked through what seemed like miles of piles of debris, pieces of houses, cars crushed like Pepsi cans, and clothes hanging from trees. It was very, very quiet. There were no people and no leaves on the trees. It was so quiet it made Penelope start to cry. “I just know we are the only survivors,” she cried. “How are we going to find our friends and family?”

Captain Jack felt like he needed to do something, but he didn’t know what. He stopped in the middle of the street and turned in a circle three times chasing his tail. The boy looked at the dog, started to smile, put his arms straight out, and looked up at the sky and turned around three times imitating Captain Jack. He encouraged Penelope to do the same thing and was starting to laugh as the dog spun around three times again, and he did too. Then the two of them were walking and staggering around. The boy was laughing very hard.

“Allen, stop that this instant,” Penelope yelled at him. “This is serious and you’re playing around like nothing is wrong.”

“Aw, come on, Penelope,” Allen replied. “Let’s be honest. There is nothing that says we can’t have a little fun.”

Penelope just did not see the humor in this and did not want to play along. She was tired, hungry, and in a very bad mood.

Allen and Captain Jack spun around a few more times. The puppy wagged his tail and Allen tried to imitate him. But since he didn’t have a tail, he looked very funny. Captain Jack smiled at him, and he smiled back at the dog. It felt good to smile and have a little fun, even though it was a scary situation. Allen knew how to make the best of a situation and apparently decided not to let Penelope’s bad mood put him in a bad mood. Captain Jack guessed it was a good thing for him to be there to help at least one of them be able to smile a little bit.

It seemed like hours had gone by when they came upon houses that weren’t even damaged. Everything looked normal in the neighborhood they walked into. There were children riding bikes, dads washing cars, and moms pushing strollers down the street visiting with neighbors acting like nothing had ever happened. They felt very out of place all covered in mud. Allen and Penelope stopped to talk with one of the moms pushing a stroller. She looked at them with such shock, Captain Jack thought she was going to run away. When she heard their story, she got this funny look on her face like she was going to cry and called to the man washing the car to come over. They talked a few minutes and invited the three of them to come into their home.

Once inside it was apparent that these were very nice people. They gave Allen and Penelope clean clothes, showed them where they could clean up, and gave them soap and towels to use. The mom put the baby in her playpen. She turned to Captain Jack with a nice smile on her face and said, “Come here, little pup.” She scooped him up and for the first time in a long time, the puppy felt very safe. She placed him in a bowl, put warm water and soap on him, and gave him a bath. Then she warmed a towel and wrapped the puppy in it to dry him off.

By the time she was done and the puppy was all dry and clean, Allen and Penelope came into the room where a table of food was waiting for them. The lady just happened to have some dog food and filled a bowl for the puppy. Oh my, they thought they were in heaven. As all three of them ate, the man and woman talked in the other room. Captain Jack could hear their voices get a bit tense and angry, and thought they were in trouble. But when the man and woman came back in, they were smiling.

They apparently had talked and had been totally honest with each other in their discussion. They decided to help the three of them, but first they had to call the police, they explained. They wanted to make sure and see if anyone were looking for them. Allen and Penelope didn’t like the sounds of that, but they were wondering what had happened to their family. They were homeless and without parents just like me.

The police arrived and asked lots of questions. Allen and Penelope had to answer honestly to help them. They filled out forms as the boy and girl answered their questions. They were very nice to the children. But when the police said they would have to take Captain Jack away and put him in a shelter, both Penelope and Allen started to cry. The man and woman who helped them spoke up and said they would take care of the puppy while the police tried to find Penelope and Allen’s family. Captain Jack was really scared as they took Allen and Penelope away in the police car. The children looked out the back window at him with tears in their eyes and the puppy didn’t know if he would ever see them again.

Captain Jack’s life was about to change once again when he realized that there was another animal that lived in the house. A big black-and-brown dog was staring at him from the outside looking in. The puppy didn’t know if he was friendly and would want to share his yard with him. But Captain Jack was about to find out as they opened the door to let the big dog in. The puppy closed his eyes and turned his head away since he didn’t know what was going to happen next. He could feel the big dog’s hot breath all over his body. The big dog was panting and drooling all over him, but he dared not move.

Follow-up Activity: Read about the program Hug-A-Tree. Decide if this could apply to any situations in your life if you were to become lost. Think about a reason you might need a police officer. Do you know how to call an emergency number just in case you need help from a police officer? Practice doing this with an adult.

Story Discussion Tips:
  1. How did Captain Jack feel before the storm started? How do you feel about storms? Rain? Thunder? Lightning? Wind? Hail?
  2. Do you think Penelope and Allen did the right thing by taking the puppy with them? What would you have done?
  3. What would you do if you were lost?
  4. How did the family decide to help?
  5. How did Allen and Penelope feel about the decision?
Humane Education Point: Both animals and children become homeless for many reasons that are often not their fault. How can you help those that are homeless? Police are professional peace keepers. They are trained to help those in need. How do you feel about the police?

Organization of the Month:
Humphrey's County Humaine Society

Humphreys County Humane Society offers programs to help offset the costs of spaying and neutering your pet for those, who otherwise, may not be able to afford the full cost. Pet overpopulation is a serious problem, please do your part, be a responsible pet owner, spay and neuter, together we can fight pet overpopulation and save lives.

Small town rural shelters across the country suffer due to lack of funding and community support. The innocent voiceless victims are the animals. This humane society partners with local shelters and rescues to save more lives by collaborating and coordinating resources. They are miracle workers.

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