Oh my goodness. Good golly, Miss Molly. Captain Jack sat there shaking so hard his teeth were chattering. He could feel this little grumbling in his chest that he couldn’t stop. And his hair started to stand up on end like a million little pins sticking out.

The big black-and-brown dog kept sniffing him. The puppy’s head was soaked with the big dog’s drool. It seemed like forever, and then the puppy felt the big dog nudge him gently. Captain Jack opened one eye just a slit so he could see what the big dog was doing. The puppy was sure he was going to eat him, but then the big dog wiggled his whole butt, as though he were trying to wag his tail. (He didn’t have a tail, which was odd.) Then the big dog bowed down to Captain Jack as though he were some sort of prince or something. The puppy didn’t know what to do, and then he remembered his sister had done that same thing when she wanted to play. But he was so-o-o-o-o-o-o big. Captain Jack was petrified!

The puppy kept whispering to himself, “Don’t be afraid. Have courage. Don’t be afraid.”

Captain Jack wanted to run away, but there was no place to run. Then the big dog did the most amazing thing. He made himself very, very small by lying down next to the puppy and rolled over on his back. The big dog looked at Captain Jack with a big old smile, eyeball to eyeball. The puppy could see the cloudiness in his eyes and that the big dog couldn’t see him, but knew he was there. The big dog rolled over on his back again and didn’t move until the puppy slowly sniffed him all over. He was still lying there without moving. Captain Jack remembered his mom also doing this and thought, Hmmmm, maybe he wants me just to nuzzle up to him, so he did. The puppy sniffed his ears and then laid his head on his big old neck and fell asleep. In fact, they both fell asleep, just like that. Captain Jack made his first friend that day. He was no longer afraid.

The puppy dreamed of his mom and brothers and sisters warm and safe in their barn filled with sweet-smelling hay, but then he noticed other smells in his dream. They smelled like bacon cooking and other yummy things. He could hear muffled voices talking and couldn’t tell if he were dreaming or if this were real.

Then the big dog got up and shook himself off. Captain Jack’s head dropped to the floor with a thud, waking him suddenly. The puppy jumped up and yelped. What he found was that the big dog had gone into the room where there really was bacon cooking and there were people talking. This was not a dream. It was real. The big dog sat all nice and pretty by the feet of the lady cooking, and she smiled down at him. Captain Jack wanted her to smile at him also, so he went over next to the big dog and imitated what he was doing by sitting nice and pretty.

The lady said, “Well, look at that. This puppy is trained.”

Captain Jack didn’t know what she meant, but he sure liked the way she looked at him all warm, happy, and smiley. Right then and there, he decided to do whatever it took for her to look at him like that again. Then she reached over and stroked him on the side of his face, shoulder, and back and said, “What a good pup you are. I wonder if you have a name? I think I’ll call you Captain Jack."

She looked over at the big black-and-brown dog and called him Horace. At that moment, Captain Jack realized what it must feel like to belong to a family and to be loved, and he so wished for that. So the big guy had a name: Horace.

The next day, the lady took Captain Jack to visit Allen and Penelope at their new home. It was called a foster home, and there were tons of children there jumping all over the place and making a mess. Allen and Penelope sat in the corner looking very scared and sad. They all went outside and started talking about finding the children’s parents. Captain Jack wished someone would help him find his mom and brothers and sisters, but somehow deep inside he knew it was not going to happen. The puppy figured that most people would spend more time trying to help a human child than a missing pup. Besides, he had it pretty good right now.

Allen and Penelope started to cry. They missed their home and parents. (Captain Jack knew how they felt.) he snuggled up next to them and it seemed to help them. All of them were petting the puppy and talking about what their next steps would be to find Allen and Penelope’s parents. They got permission to take photos, and they included Captain Jack in the photo with them to help them feel better. The lady told Allen and Penelope to be brave and have courage. But it seemed to Captain Jack that they already had been since they had survived a horrible storm, found a way to stay safe, and saved him in the process.

Then they all talked again with the police and were told that there were people out in their neighborhood helping people from there find their belongings and look for loved ones. Surely someone would find Allen and Penelope’s parents. They all exchanged phone numbers and filled out some forms for what they called permission—whatever that means—and then the police left.

Allen and Penelope started to cry again because they didn’t want to go back into the home with all the kids who were noisy, crazy, and disrespectful. But they were told they had to go back inside.

Then the lady started to cry also as she walked away and got into the car to go home, but at least she took the puppy with her. She hugged Captain Jack as she sat there crying. Then she put him in his seat belt and started the car to drive home.

He could hear her whisper to herself, “I’m going to help those children, no matter what.”

Captain Jack thought she was the nicest, most beautiful lady he had ever met at that moment. She looked like an angel to him.

Follow-up Activity: Make a gratitude journal. Each day of this month, list at least five things for which you are thankful.

Write a thank-you note to someone who has done something nice for you. This could be a note to a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle, a friend, a bus driver, a teacher, a coach, or even the grocery bagger who helped at the grocery store. Every single person you know likes to feel appreciated. Your thank-you note might just make that person’s day.

Do you have someone in your life who has shown loyalty to you? Write that person a thank-you note letting him or her know how much that means to you.

Story Discussion Tips:
  1. How would you define loyalty? Can you give examples from your life?
  2. When Captain Jack greeted his friends upon their return, what emotions was he showing? How did he show those emotions?
  3. There are many different types of friendships and family units. Discuss with someone how these friendships help everyone feel connected and supported. What are all the ways you define a family unit?
  4. Captain Jack was grateful to Allen and Penelope for several things. Think about ways you have been grateful to different people. Talk with someone about what you have been grateful for.
Humane Education Point: There are many children in foster homes for various reasons. Some foster-home situations are good ones. Others are challenging. There are countless things that foster parents must do on behalf of their foster children, including paperwork, court dates and appearances, medical care and appointments, education, and providing for the children’s basic needs. You may want to read more about foster care online. A number of websites offer information.

Organization of the Month:
Dog Scouts of America

DSA Mission & Vision

To improve the lives of dogs, their owners, and society through humane education, positive training, and community involvement.

We envision a future where dogs remain in happy, lifelong homes with responsible owners. In this vision, all dogs are seen as a useful and welcome part of the community, because people take responsibility for socializing, training, containing, and caring for them.

Any dog can become a Dog Scout!

DSA is an organization which does not discriminate against any breed. The only requirement is that the dog and owner must be able to pass a test, proving that the owner is responsible and the dog is well mannered and not a danger toward humans and other dogs. The owner will receive an embroidered merit badge. These badges can then be displayed on the dog’s backpack, Dog Scout uniform, crate cover, or travel bag.

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