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Rodney Saves the Family

by Ken Sanes

Rodney was sitting in the bedroom in front of the television set as the winds howled outside the window.

"Hurricane Irene has turned out to be much worse than anyone imagined," the weather forecaster was saying on the TV screen. "It is now bringing winds of 145 miles an hour."

"In addition," he said, "we have serious flooding, with rain pouring down onto hills throughout the area and then streaming down into lower areas."

Then, as the weather forecaster spoke, the television went dead as the lights in the house flickered a couple of times and then went out.

Rodney looked around. Suddenly, everything was dark. He had no idea what had happened. Oh, he had heard the weather forecaster explain that the hurricane outside their house was bringing some very bad winds, which can knock out the electricity. But Rodney was only a dog -- a Basset Hound to be precise, with big floppy ears and short legs. All he knew was that it seemed pretty bad out there when he looked out the window. There would be no walk before he settled in for the night.

In fact, Rodney wasn't even sure where he would go for a walk even if his owner, Jimmy, were to take him. The street in front of their house was now flooded with rain from the hurricane. So was the first floor of their house, with couches and chairs that were mostly under water.

Fortunately, Jimmy and his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Davis, were safe in the second floor hallway.

Now in darkness, with all the lights out, Rodney walked out of the bedroom and into hallway where Jimmy and his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Davis, were sitting huddled in blankets.

"I told you we should have gone to a safer location," Mrs. Davis said to Mr. Davis. "What good is staying here to watch the house if there's no house left to watch?"

"Well, itís too late now. We canít safely leave the house with all this flooding" Mr. Davis responded as the wind howled and the rain beat down on the roof.

Just then they heard a crash -- kablong -- as a pine tree outside was knocked over by the wind right onto the house, breaking a large glass door. Then another window broke in the same room, as the wind started rushing in from the outside and things started to fly around. There went Jimmy's school notebook with his half-written assignment on Thomas Jefferson. There went Mrs. Davis' favorite stationary.

But just as they shut the door to the bedroom to stop the wind from coming into the hall, they saw water rushing in under the front door to the living room. Jimmy grabbed Rodney and held him close.

"Someone's got to do something" Mrs. Davis cried. "The house is going to blow away."

Then a tree crashed, knocking their front door open, as water flooded into the living room. 

Rodney didn't know anything about hurricanes but he knew the family that he loved was in trouble. So he jumped out of Jimmy's arms, ran down the stairs and paddled through the water in the living room with his stubby feet, to where he knew his doggie door was. Then he pushed his way through the doggie door, to the outside.

Lucky for him, the eye of the hurricane -- which is the calmer middle part of the hurricane -- was just passing through as he came out of the house.

Rodney then swam like his life depended on it, paddling with his short legs. He knew exactly where to go -- to the home of Mr. Jackson, the man who always gave him a treat when he came by. Mr. Jackson had the strongest house in the neighborhood, which was made from extra-thick concrete blocks. And it sat high off the ground, so nothing could blow it away or flood it.

Rodney barked in front of the Jackson house. Nothing. He barked again.

"What's going on out there," Mr. Jackson said as he opened the front door a crack. "Oh. you're stuck out there. Come on in, boy."

But Rodney refused to come in. He barked again. And again.

"I can't go out to get you, boy" said Mr. Jackson. He knew all too well that the eye of the hurricane is still extremely dangerous. It may have seemed calm but, if he went out, he could get caught in the second part of storm that was about to arrive.

But Rodney barked again. Finally, Mr. Jackson got the message and realized the safety of his neighbors must be at stake.

He waded over to his motorboat, which was floating in what was once his side yard, and pulled Rodney into the boat. Then, he turned on the motor and raced over to the Davis house, where Jimmy and his parents were waiting in the hallway.

As Jimmy looked down the stairs from the hall, he saw something he never imagined he'd see in his life -- the front of Mr. Jackson's motor boat sticking right through their open front door, into their flooded living room. Boy were they happy to see him.

Jimmy and his parents rushed down the stairs, walked through the water, and got right into the boat. Mr. Jackson then took them back to his house and made them hot chocolate, while they safely waited for the storm to end.

There was a lot of cleaning up to do, and a lot of rebuilding, after the storm was over.

But before they got down to work, Mr. Jackson called the local newspaper, named The Chronicle. It did a story on the front page. "HERO DOG SAVES FAMILY," the headline said, with a big photograph of Rodney with his floppy ears, next to the story.

Then they gave Rodney a medal. He sniffed it and lost interest. Fortunately, they also gave him a foot-long dog biscuit, which looked large enough to keep him chewing away until the next hurricane. Everyone hoped that wouldnít be for a very long time.


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