As Kevin sat intently in front
of the old 19 inch Zenith television set with 'rabbit ears' and poor reception,
his mother watched her little seven year boy move almost theatrically as he
cheered Lassie on. "Go get 'em girl, go get 'em!" He'd look forward to each
episode as Lassie would save the day on each and every airing of this show. His
mother had memorized Kevin's question as it was sure to follow at the end of
every episode of "Lassie." Per usual, he quickly spun around while sitting
'Indian Style' on the floor and asked, "Mom? Can I have a Lassie dog? Please
As she gazed into his eager
eyes she replied, "Honey, I'd love to give you a dog like Lassie, but I've said
it before--dogs like Lassie like to be outside and run." Desperately trying to
convince him she added, "Kevin, I have told you over and over again that our
yard is too small for a Lassie dog!"
Kevin appeared pensive for a
moment and then excitingly exclaimed, "I have an idea mom! I'll teach the Lassie
dog to stay by me all of the time so she won't get lost or hurt!" His mother
appeared surprised that Kevin could creatively think on his feet so quickly.
"That's a really neat idea
sweetheart, but Lassie is what's known as a Collie and you can't teach a Collie
to stay by your side all of the time because they're outside dogs and I'm afraid
your Lassie dog would run away. Do you understand what I'm saying honey?"
Kevin looked down and was
clearly disappointed by what he felt was his last ditch effort to gain his
mother's favor as it would relate to his getting his youthful mind's hero -- a
dog and friend like Lassie.
Months passed and Kevin stopped
asking his mother whether or not he could get a dog like Lassie. She noticed his
increasing quietness and sadness with each passing episode and thought back to
her childhood. Her parents surprised her one Christmas with a little scroungy
mutt that she adored. She got this ugly little dog that Christmas when she was
about her son's age and the guilt of not allowing Kevin to have a dog to be his
best friend finally got to her. One afternoon after yet another episode of
"Lassie", she decided, right or wrong, to give in to Kevin's earlier repeated
desire to have a dog of his own. "Kevin?", she asked, "How about us going down
to the dog pound today and getting you a dog? The dog won't be as pretty as
Lassie, but I know we can find a dog that you'd love."
Kevin's eyes lit up like a 50
watt bulb with no lamp shade as he exclaimed, "Really mom?! Yes, I don't care
anymore about getting a Lassie dog! Can we go now?", he enthusiastically asked.
"We sure can honey! Put your shoes on and let's go on down to the dog pound and
find you the perfect dog!" Kevin jumped up and hurriedly put his shoes on and
headed directly to the car.
Upon arriving at the dog pound,
she asked the old man who ran the shelter which dog out of all of the dogs there
would be the most loyal and well trained dog for her eager little boy. Without a
moment's pause, the man replied, "Oh, that's an easy question to answer. Follow
me back and I'll show you the perfect dog for your son."
Kevin and his mother followed
the old man back to the last cage on the right. "There she is ma'am. This would
be the dog I'd choose and I'd already have her myself but we have a half-dozen
dogs at home and just don't have room for "Fire." She was taken back as she
looked at this homely dog with little hair as the mutt looked like she had been
badly burned. After she got over the initial shock of such a sight, she asked,
"Has this dog been burned and are you sure this would be the right dog for
Kevin?" The old man looked at Kevin and noticed his eyes were misting with
tears. "Oh I'd bet my life on it ma'am!", he confidently replied.
"Ma'am?", he inquired, "Did you
not hear about the dog that laid on top of the little girl during the forest
fire up on Red Bird Mountain? This was the dog that they featured in the local
paper. This rascal saved the little girl's life and just about lost her own by
covering that little girl with her body!" She thought for a bit and answered,
"Well of course I did! Are you telling me that this is that dog?" "Yes, it sure
is. No one has taken her because of how she looks and I would have put her to
sleep but it's hard to end a life that saved one!", he somberly replied.
"Do you want this dog Kevin?
Sounds like you'd have yourself a hero like Lassie if we brought her home."
Kevin's eyes had full-blown tears in them now. "I want her mom! Can we take her
back with us?" She quickly glanced at the old man who was moved to tears himself
at this point. "She's ours sweetheart."
They took "Fire" home and she
never left Kevin's side and was his constant companion--never once even
attempting to leave the yard or run out of the gate if mistakenly left open.
Every night Kevin would say his prayers when his mother would tuck him in and he
never failed to pray that "Fire" would be healed and get her hair back. After
about five weeks, Kevin's constant prayers were obviously being answered as the
once terribly disfigured mutt's hair rapidly began to grow back. Perhaps it was
Kevin and his mother's imagination, but the more "Fire's" hair grew back, the
more she resembled Lassie.
Kevin's mother opted to call
the old man at the dog pound as her curiosity was overwhelmingly piqued.
"Hello," the old man responded on the other end of the phone, "Corbin County dog
pound. My name is Joe and how can we help you today?" "Hi Joe, I came in a month
or so ago with my son and we got the dog you named "Fire." "Yes ma'am, he
replied happily, "I'm glad you called... been wondering how old "Fire" has been
doing. How can I help you?" She took a deep breath and asked, "Well Joe, I'm
curious about just one thing and thought you might know the answer. What kind of
mutt is 'Fire'?"
The old man softly chuckled
before replying. "Ma'am", 'Fire' isn't a mutt." Confused she continued, "If
she's not a mutt, what kind of dog is she?" He chuckled again and replied,
"Fire's momma' and daddy are both show dogs. 'Fire' is a full-bred Collie."
By Brian G. Jett
New International Version (NIV)
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down
one’s life for one’s friends."