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GOOD LUCK BONGO by C. S. Adler
(This is an unpublished story for young readers to comment on.)
One day his master said, "I'm sorry Bongo, but I can't keep you. Good luck finding another home."
Bongo did not understand.
His master opened the gate of the pickup. Bongo was glad to jump out. He needed to lift his leg at the side of the road.
Surprise! His master drove off without him. Bongo ran after the pickup. "You forgot me! You forgot me!" he barked.
But the pickup raced off down the road. There Bongo was, left all alone in a place with trees but no houses. No houses at all. He trotted on down the road.
He did not see the deli or his favorite fire plug. He did not see the club where his master played the drums at night. Trees, trees, trees were all he could see. Had he done something wrong, Bongo asked himself.
But he was a good dog. His master always said so. "Sit and stay," his master would order. Bongo would sit and stay outside the club until the sun came up and his master came out.
"Good dog, Bongo," his master would say.
Bongo sat down on the road. He would wait for his master to come back. He watched the sun slide down the sky. His master did not come. Bongo got scared.
He whined and ran on down the road again past trees and more trees. Cars passed him, but not his master's car.
At last Bongo saw a house, a very small house. He lay down to rest on the front steps. A bent old woman opened the door. "Go away," she said.
Bongo sat up and held out a paw. "Please," he begged.
"Where is your collar?" the old woman asked him. "You must be a stray."
Oh no, his master had taken his collar! Bongo tipped his head and begged the old woman with his eyes. "I'm a good dog. See how good I am."
"All right," she said. "I'll give you some water. Then you go away. My cat does not like dogs."
Lap, lap. The water in the tin pie plate tasted fine. Bongo wagged his tail in thanks.
"Go away now," the woman said and shut the door.
Go? Go where? Bongo sat down on the step. He waited and waited. He was good at waiting.
Next time the old woman opened her door she said, "You still here?"
Bongo perked up his ears and tilted his head. "Want a good dog?"
"I had a dog like you once," the old woman said. "All right. Come in and meet China. Let's see if she likes you."
But China, the cat, said, "Hssss!" She put up her back. She put up her tail. She laid back her ears. "Hsssssss!" said China. "I hate dogs."
Bongo had met cats. He knew they arched their backs to be bigger when they were scared. Plop. He lay down to be not so big and scary.
"Yow!" China jumped at his eyes, claws out. Bongo rolled away fast.
"Get out. Get out!" the old woman said. "No fighting here. Go away, dog." She opened the door.
Bongo ran out.
China stopped in the doorway, lashing her tail. "Hsss!" she said. "This is my house."
Not so lucky after all, Bongo thought.
Bongo trotted back down the road to town. He was tired. He was hungry. He was scared. Darkness fell. Out came the moon. It shone on a little red wagon. In it was a blanket. Lucky Bongo. He jumped into the wagon and went to sleep.
Up rose the sun.
"Oh," said a little girl. "A doggy is in my wagon. Hi, doggy."
Bongo sat and held out his paw. The girl shook it.
"Hi," she said. "My name is Sara. You need a bath."
"Woof," said Bongo. A bath would be nice. Sara smelled nice. Her voice was nice.
Sara turned the hose on Bongo. He stood still like a good dog and got drippy. Sara put her doll's blanket around him. Bongo licked Sara's cheek.
"Want something to eat?" she asked.
"Woof," said Bongo. He waited. Sara went inside her house. Back she came with a bowl of food.
Gollump. Bongo ate it fast. It tasted funny. It sure was not dog chow.
"Thanks for eating my mush," Sara said. "Mama said I had to eat it. Ugh! I will brush you now."
Bongo sat. Sara brushed him with her hair brush. He licked her cheek again. He felt lucky.
"Sara," a big voice called. "Get away from that dirty dog. Come in here." The big voice stepped outside. It belonged to a big woman. "Scat dog. Go home."
"But Sara likes me," Bongo cried. "And I'm clean now."
The big woman picked up a rock. "Get, I said." She threw the rock at Bongo.
He jumped aside. The rock missed. The big woman picked up another rock. "Bad dog. Get," she said.
Bongo turned and ran. He ran back down the road to town.
Not so lucky, he thought.
At the park outside town, Bongo stopped to rest on the grass. "Catch!" a little boy said. The boy threw a ball.
Bongo sat up. He liked catching balls.
"Catch," the little boy said and threw the ball again.
Bongo jumped and caught it. He dropped it at the boy's feet. The boy threw the ball. Bongo ran and brought it back. He jumped. He chased. He had a good time. The little boy had a good time, too.
"Got to go now," the boy said. "See you."
He ran off. Bongo ran after him. "Wait for me."
The little boy stopped. "No," he said. "You can't come home with me. Stay!" He held his hand out and down. Bongo sat. He was a good dog and so he waited. Then he waited some more, but that boy did not come back. Where was Bongo's luck?
The dark stole the bright of day away. Bongo's insides growled on empty. He crept down to the pond and drank.
BARK! BARK! BARK! Two big dogs ran at him. They had collars, but they were mean. One bit Bongo's side. One bit his leg. Bongo rolled onto his back to give up. Still the biggest dog growled. "Got you." His teeth came at Bongo's throat.
TWEET! came a sound. TWEET! The big dog turned. Both dogs turned and ran to the sound. They had collars. They had a home.
Whew, Bongo thought. He was lucky to be alive. Only now he hurt both inside and out. His leg hurt. He licked it. His side hurt. He could not lick that far. He crawled into the high grass and hid his nose against his belly. Why didn't anyone want himh? Wasn't he a good dog? And where was his luck?
The sun winked and rose to smile on the world. Bongo waited in the high grass. He had nowhere to go. Nowhere at all.
A boy came with a rod and a line and a hook. He stuck a piece of bread on the hook. Bongo licked his lips. The boy did not see Bongo. He tossed his line into the pond. When the boy pulled the line out, the hook was empty. Bongo woofed. "Please," he said.
The woof surprised the boy. He turned to Bongo as he swung his line. The hook caught in Bongo's ear. "Ow," Bongo yelped.
"Oh, sorry," the boy said and reached to get the hook loose.
This boy could hurt him. Bongo growled.
"Hey, it's all right, fella," the boy said.
Bongo stood up, ready to bite if he had to.
"Down," the boy said. "Sit."
"Good dog," the boy said.
Yes, yes, yes, he was a good dog! Finally, someone understood. Bongo let the boy get the hook out of his ear. It hurt, but he licked the boy's hand. The boy saw the blood on Bongo's side and leg.
"Wow," the boy said. "You better come home with me. I can fish another day."
Bongo trotted after the boy. Was he going to be lucky at last?
"Here," the boy said in the kitchen. He gave Bongo a hot dog, two buns and a cookie.
A man came into the kitchen. "What kind of fish did you catch there?" the man asked.
"I caught a dog, Dad," the boy said.
"Not much of a catch by the looks of him, Charlie," the man said.
"Can I keep him, Dad?"
"You sure you want him?"
The boy looked at Bongo.
Bongo wagged his tail. He tilted his head and hung out his tongue. He lifted is paw to beg, "Oh, please." He even lay down on his back with his paws in the air and smiled at the boy.
"I'm sure," the boy said.
The man laughed.
"Come here," Charlie said.
Bongo put his head on the boy's knee. They looked each other in the eye. "Good dog," Charlie said.
That's me, Bongo thought. I'm a good dog. His rear end wagged with joy. From the tip of his tail to the top of his ears, he was happy. He had a home again! Lucky, lucky. Bongo!