Missy boasted warm chestnut eyes and wore a coat of thick black fur adorned with strategically placed auburn markings like a Picasso painting. Part German Sheppard and part gray wolf, her strut commanded attention and her demeanor—regale and humble—intertwined. Though feared by most, we were best friends, confidants. She was my safety net, my body guard, lifting me up above all the challenges that came with being a thirteen-year-old girl.
Every day we’d walk down to the pond behind the local high school. I’d talked about how great high school would be next year; she’d dig for bones. I shared my secrets with her—boys I had a crush on, my dream of being a writer, and how much I hated braces. Missy listened as she smelled the woods, chased the butterflies, and sank her paws into the muddy edge. She understood me and I understood her, all things were kept between us.
One day in French class day-dreaming about my latest crush, I looked out the window when I spotted Missy half way out on the icy pond. My heart sank. What if the ice cracked and she went through. I knew my French teacher, Mrs. Netto, wouldn’t let me out of class to rescue her—I had to think fast. I raised my hand and asked to go to the bathroom. Reluctantly, she gave me a pass. Once out of the classroom I made my way to the office and explained the situation to the school secretary. Being a dog lover herself, she immediately called the fire department and within minutes one truck and two firefighters were outside trying to rescue my dog. I begged the secretary to let me go too as I knew Missy would come to me. “Imagine if it were your dog Mrs. Beaton, you’d want to be out there by her side, wouldn’t you?”
“Very well, but go quickly,”
I ran out the door, flew down the stairs and made my way to the back of the school where the middle school and high school connected. By the time I reached the firemen, my hands and ears were frozen.
“Where’s your coat young lady” one of the fireman called out.
“I left it inside. Please, I can help get the dog, she’s mine, she’s Missy. I know how to get her off the pond.”
“And how to you propose to do it? She’s approaching the center point where it is the thinnest.”
“If I can get to the left of her, she’ll come that way with me – there is an old bog under there to the left. I walk it with her all the time.”
“I’ll lose my job if you go out on that pond.”
“I can hold a rope—you guys can hold the other end. Please I know how to get her. Please you have to listen to me.”
“What do you think Joe?” He said to the other fireman.
“It’s her dog, it’s worth a shot. Otherwise I think the poor thing is going to fall in. Any further out she’ll go through.”
By now the entire French class was hanging out the window including Mrs. Netto, silently cheering me on. Joe tied the rope around my waist. I slowly stepped towards Missy on her left. She was panting heavily—her eyes forward—never moving her head to look my way. When I got within in one foot of her I whispered her name…Missy-doo (as I use to call her) follow me Missy-doo. I turned around, my back now towards her and began walking back to the snowy edge all the while calling her name under my breath.
“I’ll be damned; she’s coming this way,” Joe called out to his partner.
Never turning around for fear she’d stop, I just kept my stride constantly calling her name. Once I reached the edge I signaled Joe to get out of the way as to not startle her. Far enough onto the edge, I turned and knelt down and called Missy loudly. She ran to my arms. Cheers let out around the pond, Mrs. Netto leading the chorus, the class, outside, coatless and clapping—Missy was safe. Advocating had paid off.
From a very young age, we have all advocated for one thing or another. Believe you CAN advocate for your child. Allow your passion for your child to be your driving force whenever he or she is treading on thin ice.