Smitty Lepetit's Forever Home

"Oh, he's such a beautiful pup. Can we get him, Dad, Oh please!" "Well, we'll have to see. You know we're moving into a new house. Having a new puppy just might not work out." "But, Mom said we could get a dog with a bigger home!"
 
That's how it all began, "But, Mom said." Before you knew it I was in a box in the back seat of a car. We were heading toward my new house near downtown St. Louis. We stopped in front of a large brick two story, with moving trucks all around. It was really nice, but looked really old and didn't have much of a back yard. Once all the furniture got unloaded, my new family and I moved in. Everyone picked out a bedroom and I was given a nice corner in the kitchen. It was warm, and I was comfortable. Gosh, I really missed my real mom, brothers and sisters. That first night, I couldn't sleep. I saw weird shadows and heard strange sounds. I whined and howled. My new dad came in to quiet me down. It worked for awhile, but I just needed to let everybody know how I was feeling - lonesome and scared!
 
After two nights I was getting used to my new house. I even slept through the night, much to the happiness of my new family. My new mom and dad, along with their two children were busy getting everything unpacked. "Hi, I'm here!" I barked a lot, but they were too busy to notice me. They even closed the kitchen door so I wouldn't get underfoot. I really needed to, well, you know! I thought it would be OK to do it right there in the kitchen. I was wrong. My new dad got pretty mad when he saw what I had done. He put a rope around  my neck and put me in the back yard.
 
That was kinda fun. The rope was pretty long and I could take a little adventure. There was a big tree and some bushes within reach. And, there was even a flower garden which I really liked. I dug a big hole right in the middle of the pansies. What fun! Guess that wasn't very smart either. Mom came out and yelled at me, "Smitty, what did you do? You bad dog!" A few days later I heard my new mom and dad talking with another man. They seemed upset. It had something to do with 'mold' in the house. All I knew was that 'mold' must have been something bad, because two days later we moved again. I heard mom and dad talking about having the mold removed. In the meantime, we were going to have to stay in another house for awhile.
 
I didn't really care, as long as I was with my new family. This house was smaller, and I was placed in the garage. I heard mom and dad talking quietly about 'No Dogs Allowed.' I guess I wasn't suppose to live in this house. Mom and dad said the owner would never know. "We'll just keep him in the garage. Our other house will be ready in three weeks." One night I heard mom and dad talking with the owner of the house. I wanted to meet him so I barked my best bark. There was complete silence. The door to the garage opened up. There stood a man with an angry look on his face. I then heard him say, "either the dog goes or you do. That was the agreement." I didn't know exactly what that meant, but it caused my new family to cry and then talk a lot. 

Boy, the next day, we were all riding in the car again. I love riding in cars. I wondered where we were going. Before I knew it, I was in the arms of an older woman, and my new family was waving good bye. At first, I thought maybe they were going on a vacation or something. But they never returned! I was placed into a large back yard with 5 other dogs. Some of them were OK but one was really mean to me. His name was Spike. He was really big and had huge yellow teeth which you could see when he growled. Spike made it known from the very beginning that I was a newcomer and needed to stay out of his way. The other dogs were afraid of Spike, but I just listened and turned away. I decided that he was not going to bully me. He was bigger and older, but I refused to be scared. In fact, he must have noticed my attitude and never bothered me again. As a matter of fact, we later became pretty close friends after I helped him get a large thorn out of his front paw.
 
I stayed with the older woman for 4 or 5 months. Some of my new dog friends, even Spike, were picked up by other families. They seemed so happy to go! It was during this time, in Missouri, that I found out I was an Airedale. At first I didn't know what that meant. But all of us were Airedales and the old lady said we were the king of all Terriers. I really didn't understand, but I guess that made us special. After 10 months I was the only one left. Oh, there were other dogs, all Airedales, but none of my original friends. They were all adopted by families. It got cold in Missouri during the winter and I had to stay outside. We all snuggled together to stay warm. Our water froze. Our food froze too. It was not very nice and I was beginning to believe that I would be there for a very long time, maybe forever.
 
One day, the old woman came into the back yard. "Smitty, come here boy!" I didn't know what to expect. She had never called my name before. "You've been adopted, boy, and you're moving to Colorado." Colorado, I didn't know where that was and I was a little scared. Before I knew it, I was in a car, traveling across the state of Missouri. Then, I was put in another car and traveled half way across Kansas. I had never been in Kansas and it seemed strange. The car was little, and I had gotten pretty big, but I didn't care. I love riding in cars. Pretty soon, the driver stopped in a large parking lot. Two strangers were waiting for us. They seemed nice enough, but they were strangers. John and Joanne were their names. They talked to the people who were my drivers. They exchanged some papers. We walked for awhile and then I got into another car. I was getting confused. Were these two just another ride? We went from the parking lot to a motel. I had never been in a motel before. Joanne said something really strange, "We got Smitty!" What in the world did that mean? I walked around the motel room, sniffing every corner. There was actual furniture in the room, so I curled up on one of the chairs. It was so comfortable!
 
The following morning, we got into a big car. John and Joanne called it the 'Smitty-mobile.' I was confused. We drove for a long time, past a sign that said, 'Welcome to Colorado.' Finally, John and Joanne pulled into a large driveway. They opened the back gate to the car, put a leash on me and took me into a really nice house. "Probably just an overnight stop," I told myself. I was getting use to being handed from one person to another. They let me roam the house. Then, they opened a big back door and let me out to run. It was glorious! The yard had a fence and I could go wherever I wanted. There were two dogs in one yard, two dogs behind, and another dog next door. We barked at each other for starters and I ran from one end of the yard to the other as fast as could go. It was really neat!
 
That night, Joanne and John fed me a wonderful meal - inside. They took me for a walk in the park across the street. And when it was time to go to sleep, they brought me into their bedroom. I wasn't invited but jumped up on their bed. They scratched my ear and back leg for the longest time. When they turned off the lights, Joanne said, "Goodnight, Smitty. This is your forever home. We love you!" I stayed awake most of the night thinking about what she had said, and I didn't understand. But it felt good, whatever it meant. I expected to get into another car the next morning. That didn't happen. Instead, John took me for another walk, and fed me another great meal, this time with an egg in it. I was allowed to go into the back yard again for another adventure. What was happening? Later that day, I got a bath and a grooming. I had never had a grooming, but it must have been something special. John and Joanne took my picture and said, "Smitty, you are beautiful." I felt really good. Over the next few weeks, I stayed with my new human friends. They kept saying I had a home, but I really didn't understand.
 
One day, I was in the back yard and noticed the back gate open. I thought I'd take a little run around the neighborhood. I ran across the street and heard a car honk its horn and screech its tires. It came really close to hitting me. I looked at the driver and then ran off. Each house had its own smells, and some even had other dogs in fenced back yards. Some of them barked "hello" as I walked by - others barked out some words I had never heard before. I ran through the park, over to the ballpark. It was great being on my own.
 
I ran and ran for about 2 hours. Pretty soon I got lonesome for my "home". At first I couldn't remember which way to go to get back to John and Joanne. They had never taken me out this far. The sun was starting to disappear in the sky and things didn't look very familiar. Pretty soon, I heard some pleasant voices. It was John and Joanne. They were riding in their car and calling out my name. I ran to the sound. We met near an old barn near a small pond. I thought they were going to be mad. But when we saw each other, we hugged for the longest time. "Oh Smitty, we were so afraid you were lost forever! You are our boy and belong with us. Thank God we found you."

We all got into the car and headed for a place called Dairy Queen. I figured it must be a pretty fancy place with a name like that. John opened the back window so I could put my head out. The fresh air smelled good. When we got to the Queen, Joanne ordered some treats - blizzards for them and a cup of vanilla "for our friend in the back seat." I figured that must have been me. When we got home, Joanne emptied the vanilla in my dish. I was sitting there, watching her every move, and wagging my tail. She placed the dish in my eating area and said, "OK!" I plunged right in. It was cold and the best thing I had ever tasted. When I was finished I looked around for more. I even begged from John and Joanne, but got nowhere. Guess I shouldn't have eaten mine so fast. Next time, maybe I'll eat a little slower and enjoy the treat.
 
By this time John had become my new Dad, and Joanne my new Mom. One day Dad and Mom took me to the dog park. I played with many other dogs for a long time. They gave me a special meal. It was good. Later, they told me that I had been with them for one whole year. It seemed like a long time. I had never been anywhere for a year. They had a cake, with whip cream, and they gave me some. Then Mom kissed me on the head and said, "Smitty, this is your forever home. We love you!" For the first time, I think I understood. I belong with John and Joanne, I mean Dad and Mom. I don't have to worry about going somewhere else. It feels good to be wanted and to have a 'FOREVER HOME.'
 
by
John and Joanne Lepetit
 
Copyright 2007 by John Lepetit
Reprinted by permission of the copyright holder

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