By Yehuda Carmel

It was Saturday morning, when my wife and I were on our way to baby sit our grand children: three-year old Adam and nine-year-old Sally. Their parents were about to leave for a group trip to Lake Tahoe recreational area, and were not due back until 8PM the same day. We were very happy to spend a day with our grandchildren, so we got up early to be on time as planned.

It was still early in the morning and the roads were almost empty. After a short 30-minute drive through the country-side, we reached our son's house. The children cheered as we arrived, and Goldy, their dog, circled us joyously. At about 8AM the parents left with their oldest son, David, and we settled down, looking forward to a day of fun with our grandchildren.

Goldy, the Golden Retriever, had beautiful coloring - a mixture of yellow, light brown and gold. She was born around the same time Adam was born, and they grew together in the same home. When Adam was a baby, I often wondered how Goldy copped with the extra attention Adam got from his mother. The baby was kissed and hugged very often, and Goldy was often left aside, looking a bit envious. She was petted mostly by Adam's father. But when Adam grew a bit older, Goldy's love for him grew deeper, while the boy treated her like one of his toys, stepping on her and pulling her ears. Goldy did not appear to mind, and did not growl at him. She behaved as if it was a little game they played. She felt as an integral part of this family.

Adam's mother trusted Goldy to watch over Adam, and often left the two alone in the living room to play together, while she was busy in another room or in the kitchen. Whenever the baby went off the carpet and on to the cold floor, she was always there to push him back to the warm carpet with her nose. Whenever a toy was thrown away too far for Adam to reach, she always brought it back to him.

When Adam climbed on furniture or tried his first walking steps, Goldy was his guardian, his safety net, and never left his side. Whenever Adam lost his balance, Goldy's served as a cushion to soften his fall. Adam took Goldy's care for granted and did not think much of it. He just knew that when something went wrong, someone would come to his rescue. More often then not, it was Goldy who kept him out of trouble.

It was almost noon and I was about to take a walk around the neighborhood. I usually walk for an hour every day (they say it's good for keeping the weight down and helps with blood circulation). My wife suggested that I take Sally and Goldy along. I asked Sally for the leash, but there was no answer. I asked again, Sally said; "You don't need any leash, I take Goldy almost every day for a stroll and I don't use the leash at all". I tried to insist, but my wife said; "You can trust Sally. She lives here, she is a old enough, and she knows what she is doing". I wasn't so sure so I took the leash anyway, just to be safe.

We were in a newly built residential area with single-family homes, all nicely landscaped, with red tile roofs and various types of fences. Some houses were fenced with bricks, while others were surrounded by trees. Each house had a nice driveway which also served for parking.

Each house had a sign in the front, announcing the name of the family living there. The signs were highly artistic – reflecting the style of the people living there. It was late December, and yet there was not even a single cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, the streets were clean – it was very pleasant and peaceful.

Goldy, Sally and I strolled along the empty streets toward the nearby road. Goldy was free, running from one yard to the next, searching and sniffing, as dogs often do. After a while we noticed that Goldy was gone… we could not see her. Sally called her a few times and it took some time until we saw her again, coming back with her nose on the ground, as if she knew that she's been misbehaving. I told Sally how I feel about loosing sight of Goldy and I said "next time, if we'll loose track of Goldy she would be leashed". Sally understood and said "don't worry, everything will be all right ".

We went further and Goldy continued to stray farther and farther from us. Sally called her and a few times the dog came back to stroll beside us, but after several such incidents, loosing Goldy and calling her, without any response, I thought to myself: “who is responsible here? Who will be to blame if something goes wrong?”

While chasing Goldy, Sally crossed roads without proper attention. The neighborhood dogs, sensing a foreign dog snooping around their territory, were barking like mad. What if anything would happen either to Sally or the dog? I've asked myself again: "who would be responsible"? The answer was very obvious and very clear. There wasn't any other choice; I should take the situation in my hands! "Fortunately I have the leash" I said to myself. Next time Goldy returned, I tied the leash to her collar.

The three of us were walking on the short sloppy road toward home. Sally was fuming. She didn't say a word and her demeanor was ice cold. The home was about 3 miles down the road. Goldy didn't seem to mind being tied. She strolled beside me quietly, her nose in the ground, as if nothing has changed.

But Sally couldn't help it, she kept on arguing and pleading and nagging again and again, to free Goldy from the leash. She felt as if the leash is tied to her own collar. It sounded as a desperate plea. She kept saying: “Grandpa, please let her off the leash" but I was stubborn and stood my ground .

After trying for a while to convince me, Sally started to walk faster towards her house. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure at all about the situation and I kept calculating my steps again in my mind and asked myself: "what happened here? I came to visit my grandchildren in good faith, to have good time with them in the weekend and now I'm going to loose my good relationship with my lovable granddaughter?" I was puzzled by the situation and couldn't understand what I've done wrong. My mind was racing and I was getting more and more concerned about my relationship with Sally.

All of the sudden, a large boxy car, a van, passed by us. The van was unusually quiet, as if its engine was not running. I looked in the driver seat… there was no one there. I saw Sally about a mile in front of us. I shouted to Sally “Watch out!”, “Watch out!” But she either didn't hear me, or was too stubborn to answer. It was obvious that she was upset. Goldy became restless and pulled forward on the leash. She probably realized what was happening. The Van was moving quietly and rapidly toward Sally, and I knew what I had to do. I freed Goldy, and she ran furiously toward Sally, past the rolling van, and jumped on Sally with all her weight. Goldy and Sally were thrown to the sidewalk in the last minute and the Van passed by, missing them by a few inches. The van continued a little farther until it hit one of the stone fences. Neighbors rushed to the wrecked vehicle, opened the driver-side door and found a boy about six years old sitting by the steering wheel, smiling.

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