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I had always considered myself a pretty good runner, but when you’re running for your life you can never move fast enough. I glanced back, almost tripping over myself. I could see out of the corner of my eye his black mask, beady eyes, and his muddy fur coat. Though what scared me the most were his sharp canine teeth. Go ahead and laugh but I was running from… a dog. My flip-flops had fallen off my feet when I started running and the pavement was burning hot. I rounded the corner into my driveway, sprinting for my front door. I wasn’t always scared of dogs, but something happened that makes me run every time I see one.

Two years ago a dog ran into my yard where I was playing. When the dog started to wag his tail and bark I thought he was nice. So I tried to pet him, but apparently he didn’t want to be touched. When my hand got too close to his forehead he lashed out and bit me. I can only remember screaming and crying, waiting for the pain to go away. The next day when I woke up I was lying in the hospital bed with stitches on my right arm from my wrist to my elbow. Even though the dog had to go to the pound the fear and the scares he gave me never left.

I don’t know why but I never told anybody about what happened. You can imagine with my fear of something like this I was an easy target for bullies. No one wanted to hang out with me anymore. Even though before they were really only my friends because I was the school’s best track and cross-country runner (we had a really small school). It didn’t really bother me because I could always find something to do by myself, but my parents disagreed. “You need at least one friend, honey. Someone you can talk to other than us.” My parents always said that when they saw me reading, alone, up in the branches of a maple in our backyard. Though they were right, I was lonely. However, I didn’t want to become friends with anyone at my school, until I met someone who changed everything.

I knew the day would come when the teasing would become too much and I wouldn’t be able to take it any longer. On a Friday in October it happened and I ended up running to my house three miles away instead of taking the bus home. I went straight into the woods when I got home. I sat down in a pile of leaves, letting all the sadness and frustration that I was holding inside go. I listened to the hush of the trees and admired the beauty of the falling leaves.

Suddenly I heard whimpering, and it wasn’t mine. I glanced around quickly. At first I saw no one but then I saw the last thing I wanted to see, a dog. From instinct I stood up, legs tense, as if I was waiting for the starting gun in track, but the dog didn’t move. Even with my fear of canines a part of me wanted to go and comfort the wounded stray. Eventually, my heart overpowered my conscience and I couldn’t bear his pain. I knelt down ever so gently, so as not to frighten him, still he didn’t budge. Then carefully I reached out my right hand. My scar started to tingle, remembering the last time I was this close to a dog. Then, before I was ready the dog stretched out his neck, nudging his head into my hand. At that point I knew he needed me and I needed him.

The dog happily followed me home; sadly, he was limping the whole way. Some animal probably more frightening than any dog had wounded his back right foot. However, the expressions on my parents’ faces said it all. Their mouths had dropped to the floor speechless, and when I asked if we could keep him, they assured me that if he didn’t have rabies we could. Even after a few days with Scruffy (which is what we chose to name him) the statement “Dogs are man’s best friend” was proven true.

Finding a Friend finding a dog
At that point I knew he needed me and I needed him

One day, a couple months after I found Scruffy, I was taking him for a walk and I noticed a sign on a telephone pole. The sign read:

Lost Dog

Medium height, brown eyes, mutt, male,
scruffy light brown hair,
Answers to the name Copper.
If seen, please contact me at 544-0222,
or bring him to my house at
18 Sugar Hill Road, Easton, NH
Thank you,
Annie Samson

Next to the writing there was a picture of Scruffy or Copper. No doubt about it, that was a picture of the dog who was sitting right beside me. My heart shattered into a million pieces. The dog who had rescued me from drowning in sadness belonged to someone else.

That evening I sat in bed, staring at the sign that I had torn down in anger. Just then it occurred to me that Annie was probably feeling just as miserable as I had before I found “Copper.” At that moment I knew I had to return my friend to his rightful owner.

The next day I brought Copper to Easton to find his owner. He seemed to recognize the smell near the house, but I didn’t want to let him go. When I knocked on the door I knew I had done the right thing. The girl answered the door and almost cried with happiness that her dog had come home. She thanked me about twenty times before she took Copper. Then, right as she was closing the door, I whispered, “He’s a great dog.” She must have recognized the sadness in my eyes because she offered for me to come over after school and walk Copper with her. Annie and I quickly became best friends and to this day we still are. Surprisingly enough, I owe it all to a dog.

Finding a Friend Hannah Culver
Hannah Culver, 12
Merrimack, New Hampshire

Finding a Friend Jordan Lei
Jordan Lei, 11
Portland, Oregon