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It was Sunday night; the day started joyously while on FaceTime with my best friend, Mia. I was lying on my bed laughing, enjoying life when Austin (my brother) abruptly entered my room and shoved the house phone at me. I answered with a cheerful “Hello.” It was my dad. My parents are divorced, and they split weekdays with my brother and me. He said, “Hi” in a low, solemn tone. I was confused at first because my dad is a happy-go-lucky man. I continued in my cheerful voice and asked, “How are you?”

I remember when he spoke, I froze, my hand over my mouth with tears streaming out of my eyes. My dad informed me that our dog, Flash, was dying, and we had two options: euthanize or let him die of starvation. We made the heartbreaking decision to put him down and not let him suffer. Mia saw my reaction and quickly became concerned. She knew Flash was having medical problems but thought that it was nothing he couldn’t overcome. I shared the news, and she too became distraught with grief. After the devastating news, we ended FaceTime.

We had to decide whether to say goodbye to Flash. I immediately knew I wanted to see him. My mom drove us to my dad’s house. The ride to my dad’s, even though short, was a dark silence. When we arrived, walking in the house was dreadful. Flash was laying there almost lifeless, except for a slight wag of his tail. A light thump of his tail could be heard hitting the couch. I kneeled on the ground, hugging him, sobbing into his fur while my dad told us his medical situation. Flash was dying of kidney failure, which caused him to lose his appetite; hence he would starve to death if we didn’t take action.

In those moments, I felt frozen; it was just Flash and me. I was trying to calm myself and stop hyperventilating. To this day, I don’t know how much time had passed while lying on Flash. I said goodbye as I kissed Flash and whispered in his ear in between sobs; he was everything I could ask for in a dog and how blessed I was to have grown up with him. The hardest part was over. The last memory I have of Flash was of him lying on the couch, looking at my brother and me before we walked out the door. When we got back, I went straight to my room, and from there it was all a blur. I only remember the endless tears rolling out of my eyes as I tried to go to sleep.

Waking up for school was more dreadful than ever. I had to keep pushing. I vowed I would make it through the day. Fighting back the tears through school, I acted as nothing happened. I thought it would disappear from my mind, but the thought of Flash never vanished.

For four straight nights, I cried myself to sleep. It angered me that no one showed pain and seemed to have moved on. My dad started looking for new dogs with Austin. It felt like I was the only sad one, and everyone was fine. I had to hide my feelings because I was afraid of crying and showing pain.

These feelings continued to brew as time passed. When the day finally came to get a puppy, he was the cutest little dog with a humorous attitude. The special moment came when I got to name him, and I chose Pluto. Although I was against the idea of a new dog, I enjoyed having Pluto around; he helped me cope with my feelings. Now, I still grieve Flash, and waves of emotions unexpectedly hit me. I’ve accepted his death. Thanks to friends and Pluto, I am happy and living my life.

© Serena Shantry. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.

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