Taffy The Hero Dog by Mary Brown
Taffy was my dog.
That is why I can tell this story.
Although she wasn’t yet my dog
the winter she became a hero dog.
Taffy didn’t look like a hero dog.
She was a small springer spaniel
with shiny caramel-colored fur
and freckles on her nose.
But she was a hero dog.
We went everywhere together, Taffy and I.
She always led the way.
But she wasn’t my dog that winter
for I was just a baby then.
Then, she belonged to Linda and Carol.
They are my sisters
and they we’re nine and six that winter.
Now, no one is sure how it happened
that my mother let
Linda and Carol
go outside that winter afternoon.
My mother is a careful woman.
But she did let them go out.
They needed to check the snow fort
in the alfalfa field
behind our house.
We didn’t live in the country,
but behind our block of square white houses
was a block of alfalfa field.
Beyond that —
wind-swept Kansas prairie and sky.
That alfalfa field was a source
of great pleasure and adventure
for the children of our neighborhood.
I loved to hear the alfalfa
crunch beneath my feet.
And it smelled
a beautiful earthy-sweet.
In the winter,
when snow was on the ground,
it was perfect for fox and goose.
We always spent more time making the paths
no one liked being the fox.
And it was good for snow forts too.
Like the one Linda and Carol
needed to check that winter day.
So, they went out to the field.
And Taffy went too.
Well, it was still there
half-completed as they’d left it
but it was too boring to continue building.
So, Linda convinced Carol
that it would be a good idea
to freeze to death.
Linda had just read a book
in which that had happened
And it seemed like a dramatic end to life.
So, They lay down in the snow.
And they lay there
and lay there.
And the wind was blowing
the snow around their bodies.
And they lay there.
And it was too boring.
So, says, Linda,
“Let’s follow the wind!”
And Carol says, “OK.”
So, they followed the wind
that was blowing the snow.
They followed the wind
down the alley
through the snow that
was growing deeper and deeper.
they were no longer following the wind;
they were struggling against the wind.
And they couldn’t see.
They could not see anything—
only blowing snow
and each other
Linda was frozen
in one spot with fear and cold.
Carol was howling,
her mouth wide open like a cave.
The snow swirled around their heads
and now reached Carol’s waist.
It was time to go home.
Taffy looked up at them,
then turned and leapt
through the snow
that was higher than her head.
Then, turned and looked back at them.
Linda and Carol followed Taffy
as she struggled against the wind and snow.
She plowed and leapt
and turned to make sure they were following.
She led them home that day.
My mother was mad.
I can see her green eyes flash.
And, No Taffy could not come in.
Dogs belong outside.
I can see Linda’s green eyes
flash in response.
Taffy had to come in.
And when Mom saw Taffy at the door,
her fur white—
packed with snow and ice—
So, for the first time,
Taffy slept in the basement
on a special pallet
by the stove.
How much it snowed that day is disputed,
but the drifts reached the tops of telephone poles.
Linda got to slide down those drifts.
Carol got pneumonia
from howling in the wind.
Taffy was a hero dog.
Taffy was my dog.
And that is why I have this story to tell.