"Did you hear that the runners got blown up?" Sophie asked Samantha as they walked home from school that day. Yesterday bombs had exploded at the Boston Marathon and today everyone at school had been talking about it.
"Yes, I heard," Samantha said sadly.
"Why would someone do that?" Sophie wondered out loud. Samantha didn't have an answer for her little sister. She wondered the same thing. She had heard that a boy close to her own age had been waiting at the finish line for his dad. The boy died in the explosion. Lots of others were hurt. It didn't make any sense.
"I don't know, Sophie. I don't know," Samantha replied as she put her arm around her little sister. They continued walking home quietly, each one lost in thought about the things they had heard that day.
Suddenly Samantha was shaken out of her reverie. She saw Scooter, a little stray dog that had come up recently, crossing the road. As she watched, a car came around the corner. Scooter tried to get out of the way, but the car hit his back leg as he was running. Scooter was thrown to the side as the car sped by and drove away.
Scooter was laying in the edge of the road whimpering. Samantha could see his leg was broken, and another car was coming in the distance.
"Sophie, stay here," she cried as dropped her backpack and ran out to scoop Scooter up in her arms, carrying him to the safety of the sidewalk. Scooter whimpered as she carried him, but he didn't fight.
"Don't worry, Boy. I've got you. It's going to be OK," Samantha kept talking in low soothing tones to the dog as she gently walked with him towards her house. Sophie walked behind carrying both backpacks.
"Is he OK? Oh my gosh! That car!" Sophie was babbling hysterically.
"Calm down, Sophie. Don't scare him. It's OK, Boy. We're almost home," Samantha talked both to her sister and the dog in a calm soothing voice. She was freaking out just as much as Sophie on the inside, but she didn't want to scare Scooter. Samantha knew that an injured animal was dangerous. If Scooter felt threatened he could hurt her. Even still, she wouldn't leave him hurt on the side of the road. She just had to keep him calm.
They walked slowly toward home. It wasn't far, but Samantha had to walk carefully. When they got home they found Gran waiting for them. Mom and Michelle were out at a play-date. Sophie opened the door and Samantha walked through it, carefully carrying Scooter.
When Gran saw them, she started scolding Samantha for bringing "that stray" inside. Scooter had been wandering around the neighborhood for a few days, and though Samantha had befriended him, none of the adults seemed happy to have him around.
"Shhh, Gran. Don't scare him," Sophie said urgently.
"He's hurt. A car hit him. We have to help him," Samantha explained calmly. She walked to her bedroom and laid him down on her bed. The little dog cried out in pain when she set him down.
"Don't worry Scooter. It's going to be alright," Samantha assured him. He lay there whimpering.
Gran watched it all. She came up to Samantha and wrapped an arm around her. "Samantha, I think it's sweet that you are trying to help him, but he's a stray. If his leg is broken he's in a lot of trouble. I'll take you to the vet and we can have him put down. It would be a kindness."
Samantha looked at Gran angrily. "That's not helping him! I didn't get him out of the road so you could kill him!" she said. She was getting upset. She could feel herself starting to cry. The tears streamed down her face as she looked Gran square in the eye. "I can save him, Gran," she said.
Gran sighed, "How, Samantha?"
Samantha smiled. That was the question she wanted to hear. She had thought it all out while she was walking down the road. Mom had an old first aid kit. In it was a kit to make a plaster cast. Samantha had looked at it many times. "Trust me. I'll show you. Gran, will you get me a big bowl of warm water? Sophie, grab some long ribbons from the craft drawer. I'll get the first aid kit," Samantha instructed. She ran to the bathroom where the first aid kit was located before anyone could argue. She was back beside Scooter opening up the case when Sophie came in the room with handfuls of ribbon.
"Thanks, Sophie," Samantha said as she took a long thick ribbon.
"OK, Scooter. I know you don't want to hurt me. I trust you and you've gotta trust me. I'm going to tie this ribbon around your mouth because what I have to do next is going to hurt. I don't want you to accidentally bite me. You don't want to do that either do you? No, that's a good boy," Samantha kept talking soothingly to the dog as she wound the ribbon around his muzzle and tied it tight.
Gran walked back in with the warm water. Samantha opened the cast material and soaked it in the water. She gently felt Scooter's hurt leg. She could feel where the bone was broken. Scooter whimpered in pain, but he lay still.
"This is the bad part. Gran, I need you to hold his head and body tightly. He knows we are helping, but I have to set the bone and it's going to hurt really bad," Samantha told her grandmother. Gran looked sick, but she complied.
Samantha took a deep breath. She gently felt the leg, imagining what she needed to do. Scooter whimpered. Samantha grabbed the leg and pulled gently. Scooter cried in pain, but she hadn't pulled hard enough to get it in place. Gran held him firmly. She was crying, but she looked at Samantha and said, "You can do it. Try again."
Samantha did. This time she got the bones to match up. The break had been clean and it went back together well. Scooter cried in pain, but settled down to a whimper once it was done. Tears streamed down Samantha's eyes so badly she could barely see. She was scared and she didn't want Scooter in pain, but she didn't know what else to do. This was what had to be done. Samantha wrapped gauze firmly around his leg.
"OK, hold him still. I've read about putting on a cast. We need to keep the bones in place long enough to let the plaster set," Samantha said as she pulled the now wet roll of cast plaster tape out of the water. She carefully wrapped it around and around his leg until the entire leg was covered. The whole time she worked, Scooter lay still and whimpered.
Samantha kept talking to him, "It's going to be OK. You'll be good as new in no time. That bone set so nicely. You are doing well, boy. Here we go, just a little more." She wasn't sure if she was comforting the dog or herself, but either way, it was working. She got the cast finished. Gran relaxed her hold, but continued to pet him. Samantha took the ribbon off from around Scooter’s mouth. She sat on the other side of Scooter and held the leg in place while the cast dried. Sophie sat on the bed behind them.
When Mom got home, she found them like that. After she heard what had happened Mom was incredulous. "Samantha! You know better than to run out into the road! You should never endanger yourself like that," Mom said.
"I looked for cars. I had time," Samantha answered.
"You know hurt animals are dangerous. What if he had bitten you?" Mom said.
"He didn't," Samantha replied defiantly.
"Yeah, he was good the whole time," Sophie added.
"That was very foolish....but I'm proud of you guys," Mom told her as she gave Samantha and Sophie a hug. The hug was extra squishy and mom didn't let go.
"Um, mom. I can't breath," Samantha squeaked.
"Can't breath!" Sophie echoed.
Mom squeezed them one more time and then released her grip. Then she sighed and looked at the dog lying on the bed.
"Welcome to the family, Scooter," she said as she ruffled his hair.
"We can keep him?" Samantha said.
"Well, we can't very well kick him out with a cast on. Now can we?" Mom replied. She stared at Scooter for a minute and then continued, "Besides, any dog that would let you touch a broken leg without biting you is worth his salt."
After the cast hardened, Samantha and Sophie and their baby sister Michelle spent the rest of the afternoon loving on Scooter. They made him a bed in the living room and put food and water nearby. Samantha sat beside him as she did her homework. He seemed happy to rest and have her nearby. Michelle would come over and pat him every now and again. Scooter would lick her face every time she got close enough, which would cause Michelle to giggle and run away.
They were sitting with him when the news came on TV that night. In the excitement of the afternoon, Samantha had forgotten about the bombing. As she watched the reporters talking about the tragedy, she remembered again.
"That's horrible that someone would hurt all those people," she said out loud.
"Look at the news, Sam. I see the tragedy and the pain, but what else do you see?" Mom asked her.
Samantha looked. All she could see was the tragedy. What was Mom talking about? Then the news reporter started talking about how some of the runners who were not hurt kept running to the hospital to give blood. She saw the firemen and the emergency workers rushing to the scene to help the injured. She saw people hugging each other and comforting each other.
"People helping," Samantha answered.
"That's right," Mom said. "There is bad in the world, but it doesn't overpower the good."
"Mom, what can I do? I feel helpless," Samantha cried.
Mom said, "Every time you do something good, you combat evil. Every animal you rescue. Every time you show a kindness to a friend. Every time you show kindness to a stranger. You are choosing to help instead of hurt. These are the things that will change the world and make it a better place."