We had been working all day hauling hay. The heat of the day made the leaves of the hay stick to my sweaty body and itched like crazy. It didn’t help that I was allergic, but that was life on the farm.
We had no more gotten the hay in the stack when Dad told my brother he needed to take the dump truck to get a load of grain while he headed to work on afternoon shift. I didn’t blame my brother for being annoyed. It was a hot, miserable job that rated right up there with one of the worst jobs. The grain dust was worse than the hay any day.
He finished his lunch, guzzled down an ice cold Coca-Cola, and stomped out to the truck. As I gathered up the dirty dishes, I heard the old truck rumble to a start and then my beloved dog, Scottie, cry out in pain. My hands trembled as I dropped the dishes into the soapy water and ran out the door.
My brother was kneeling and pulling something out from under the truck—Scottie.
“I didn’t see him,” he said, holding my dog in his arms. “He must have been sleeping under there for the shade.”
Scottie whimpered. I thought of the day I finally got him—my first dog. My very first dog. Dad had many farm dogs. I had always wanted a dog of my own. The answer had always been no. Until that one day when I turned thirteen and we went to the pound. Scottie was with a litter of puppies but the only one I saw that day.
Now, I looked at Scottie’s sad brown eyes. A sour taste rose in my mouth and I had difficulty swallowing.
My brother checked him over. There were no visible signs of injury—no blood, scratches, torn skin. He stood my dog on the ground. With head and tail hung low, Scottie slowly walked over to the front lawn and sat down in the shade of a tree.
“He’ll be all right, Cin,” my brother said. “I’ve got to get that load of grain. If he’s not better when I get back, we’ll take him to the vet.” He jumped in the truck and left the yard, dust filling the air.
Mom stepped outside. “Is he okay?”
My stomach quivered and my teeth chattered. “He’ll be just fine,” I said, stroking his fur.
“Let’s finish the dishes.” Mom opened the squeaky screen door.
With heavy footsteps, I followed her into the house, holding my stomach. I chewed at my lip as I wiped the dishes with the towel just enough to say they were dry and shove them in the cupboard. I kept looking out the window, wishing my brother would get back.
“Just go,” Mom said, not able to stand my anxiety any longer.
I dashed out the door. My breath caught in my throat. Scottie wasn’t on the lawn. I yelled for Mom, but she didn’t hear me. I began searching, clutching my chest. I spotted Scottie in the corner of the lawn under the house trailer.
“Come,” I said. “I’ll hold you.”
Scottie didn’t move.
I reached under and pulled him out, his body stiff and lifeless.
“No, no, no!”
This hadn’t happened. I wouldn’t accept it. I ran as if running would make it all go away. I ran down the dirt road as hard and fast as I could. My lungs ached. My brother’s truck came toward me. I met him.
“He’s dead.” Tears streamed down my face.
My brother’s complexion went pale. “I’m sorry, Cin.” He got out of the truck and hugged me.
I know my brother’s guilt was overwhelming. He knew that he should have checked under the truck. The dogs often laid underneath, but he was mad. Mad at having to go for that load of grain.
I didn’t blame him. It was an accident. And I didn’t want him to feel as horrible as I did.
Other than when my brother died many years later, I don’t think I’ve cried as many tears as I did over Scottie’s death. Yes, I've loved many dogs, but Scottie was my first dog—my best friend. He is missed to this day and always.
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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