Willie, Hector and Bobby were walking to school when they saw Coach Campbell walking not to far ahead of them. They ran up to him and asked, “How was your summer, Coach?”
Coach answered, “Well guys, some of you have heard me talk about my dog, Sergeant Buckshot, from time to time. Some of you have even seen me walking him around the neighborhood. Well, Buck was, as you all know, pretty old. Getting around was getting hard for him, and he was waking up feeling tired. Then one day, well, he had to move on.
Now, that really hurt a lot, to see him go, he was a great friend for twelve years, but – it was his time.”
Hector asked,”Will you get another dog Coach?”
”Well now, Hector, I already did,” said Coach. “I got a puppy. He is a little bit younger than Buckshot was when I got him.”
“A PUPPY!” shouted Willie. “How old, can we see him?”
“Delmar, that’s his name, is just over 4 months old now. He is still very young, excitable, and interested in just about everything. Lots of energy! When he gets a bit older, and has some more of his vaccines, I will bring him by to meet all of you,” answered Coach.
“YAY!” said Bobby. “How did you find him? What kind of dog is he?”
Coach answered,”He is a lab-shepherd mix, and how I got him, well now, that’s a good story.
You see, it was almost Labor Day weekend, and I was going to be up-State at a lake-house for the long weekend. Now – and this is important – I had only ever been there with Buckshot, so to be there all alone, without a dog, I just couldn’t do that. So, I started looking for rescue shelters near where I would be staying for the weekend.”
Willie interrupted, saying, “What’s a rescue shelter?”
Coach continued, “A rescue shelter is a place where really nice people try to find homes for lost puppies and dogs. It is where dogs get a second chance at a “forever home.”
So, after doing some research in the Internet, I found Delmar – only then, he was being called Ricki. Well, as soon as I read Ricki’s story, of how he was left – along with his brothers and sisters – in a cardboard box, and he was the only one left, not yet adopted, and still waiting for his forever home … well, I just knew he was the one.
You see, my first dog as a boy, when I was in the 6th grade, was in a cardboard box outside of a grocery store when I first met him. Schultz was my first dog, my dog as a boy growing up.
Then, a long time after that, when I was all grown up, I met Buckshot. He was only five months old then, with the same spots on his body that Schultz had. He was the last in his litter, waiting to be rescued. Then, he walked on over to me, sat down and put his head on my lap. I knew right then, he was with me from now on.
So, you see, Delmar was like Schultz, found in a cardboard box. He was also like Buckshot, the last one waiting, after all of his brothers and sisters had been adopted. There was so much in common with the dogs I knew and cared for, that I called up the rescue shelter right away. A few hours later, I was talking to Ricki’s foster mom, and making plans to meet him the next day.
The next day was September 1st, and I have started my day, every day since, with Delmar.”
Hector wanted to know, “How early do you have to get up with him? How many walks a day does he need? Can I walk him?” “Yeah, me too, can I?” said Willie.
”Well, remember, said, coach, “He is still a bit too young to come by for a visit. Now, the truth is, having a puppy is a ton work, and a long day. They need to go outside every 3-4 hours at his age. That is a lot of walks!
The first walk of the day is at 5:30 in the morning. How many of you are up that early? (no hands raised) Huh, not that many I see.
Since I am at school during the day, I have a dog walker come by to take Delmar out for nice, long walks at 9 AM, 1 PM, and again at 4 PM. I get home at around 6 PM, and the first thing I do is take Delmar out for a walk. There are two more after that, the last one being at 10 PM.”
The boys looked thoughtful, then Bobby said, “Wow, that is a lot of walks.”
“Yup, sure is,” said Coach.
Does he have a lot of toys? Yeah, can we bring him a bone? the boys wanted to know.
Coach laughed saying, “Oh boy, you bet he’s got toys. Puppies love to play, and need lots of different toys to keep them busy.
His favorite is a big, knotted rope toy. That, and a stuffed hedgehog. Bones, though, not the best thing for a young puppy’s tummy. See, puppies don’t know when to stop eating, so you have to be careful with what you give them, and how much. Bones from the dinner table are really not good for a puppy, and chicken bones are a “no-no” for all dogs, of all ages. ”
“Wow, OK Coach. So, you don’t miss Buckshot anymore?” Willie stopped talking waiting for Coach’s answer.
“Oh Willie, I will always remember Buckshot. I can never forget him. After losing him, I was very sad and lonely, and I did not want to only remember Buckshot, and feel sad. Plus, he was a rescue dog who lived a good life, and I am sure he would want me to give another good life to the next dog that came along needing to be rescued. In fact, I am sure Buckshot is resting in peace, now that he knows I am no longer sad and lonely. Delmar is making me laugh, and staying close.”
“So, I know we can’t meet Delmar yet, but can we see some pictures?” Willie had asked the question that all three boys wanted to know.
Coach smiled and said, “You bet.”
Story by: Ned M. Campbell (Coach Campbell)