Evan and his mom moved to a new town, and he joined the boy’s scout to make friends. However, he got lost during a hike, and a stray dog found and protected him the entire night. When Evan was finally rescued, his mother had to make a decision.
“We can’t get a dog or a cat right now, Evan. We just moved here, and I have work. You have school. A dog, especially a puppy, needs tons of attention, care, and veterinary visits. It’s not that simple,” Evan’s mother, Octavia, shook her head one morning while driving him to his new school.
They had just moved to a new town, and Evan was tired of being lonely and not making friends, so he asked for a puppy or a cat. But his mother refused.
“I’ll be responsible, I swear! I’m old enough to do everything. I can pick up after it and care for it, too,” Evan continued begging. “Please, Mom.”
“Honey, I told you. We can’t right now. We’re just settling in here. Is this about making friends? Because you’re a great kid, and you’re going to make friends at school in no time,” Octavia said. “Also, if you have a pet at home, you miss out on joining some clubs. And clubs are the best way to make new friends. So, please. Drop the subject for now, and let’s focus on adapting to this new place. OK?”
“OK,” Evan responded in a defeated tone. Octavia felt terrible, but a pet – even a tiny fish – required a lot of responsibility, and there were more pressing things to focus on now.
Evan got out of the car, dreading his first day at a new school, but maybe his mother was right, and it wouldn’t be so bad. It wasn’t the best because being the new kid was awkward, but people were pleasant enough, and he got to sit with a few exciting buddies.
However, the boy was still planning to convince his mom about getting a pet, and the first step was being extra responsible and diligent. He also helped out with dinner and dishes.
“Did you check out any of the clubs at school? It would be best to join something that occupies the entire afternoon, so you won’t be lonely here until I get home,” Octavia commented while they ate.
“I don’t know. I checked a few, but I don’t know what to pick,” Evan replied, not focused much.
“You know what might be fun? The Boy Scouts. They’re a good organization, and since we live in a forested area, you might benefit from getting some wilderness skills,” his mother continued.
“Isn’t that dorky?”
“Please, dorky things are in now, kid. Get with the times,” she laughed, trying to be playful. “But anyway, they’ll teach some things about being responsible and independent in case anything happens.”
“If I join, do you think I’ll become responsible enough to have a dog?” Evan chimed in, wide-eyed.
Octavia sighed. “Well, maybe. Although I already told you why I don’t think it’s the best idea to get a dog now. I have no time, and you’re still a kid. But if you can prove that you’re responsible enough to pick a club, work hard in it, and keep your grades up, then we can discuss this again. How does that sound?”
Finally, Evan perked up, and he smiled at his mother. “Yay! OK, I’ll join them tomorrow!”
Octavia grinned and shook her head. She might have to relent about the dog issue at some point, but she would prefer to wait a few years until Evan was older and could adequately care for any animal.
“Let’s welcome our new members. How about we start with Evan over there? Evan, stand up and tell us why you joined the Boy Scouts,” the Scoutmaster, Mr. Davis – who happened to be the elementary school’s Biology teacher as well – asked him.
All the boys were on the floor with their cute uniforms and ready for their first lesson. Evan stood up timidly and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Evan, and I joined the club because I just moved here and don’t know anything about forests. And my mom thinks if I’m good here, I’ll be able to care for a dog,” he said, making the other kids chuckle.
Mr. Davis smiled. “Your mom is right. But what you’ll learn with us will be so much more than just caring for animals. Have you lived near a forest or the woods before?”
“No,” the kid shook his head.
“Then, you must learn about surviving in the wilderness if something happens. Also, the Boy Scouts teach responsibility, camaraderie, teamwork, and so much more. So, we’re glad you’re here, Evan,” Mr. Davis finished, and the group clapped.
Other kids introduced themselves, and Evan was glad not to be the only new person on the team. As their first meeting went by, the 11-year-old got more excited about being in this club, especially about all the activities Mr. Davis was showing them.
“Actually, yes. We have a big hike a week before school ends for the winter holidays, and I need you all to be ready and to get these permission slips signed by your parents,” Mr. Davis revealed, and all the boys were abuzz about the hiking trip.
Although Evan had only joined to please his mother, he was happy when he got home and told her all about the club, forgetting everything about getting a pet at that point.
The hiking day arrived, and Evan was laughing and enjoying himself with his closest buddies from the scouts. The last few weeks had been excellent. He had made real friends and was so busy with school that he never bugged his mother about a pet.
He wanted a dog, but now, he was alright with waiting until he was older and could be more independent.
His real focus was learning all about wilderness survival, and he had already excelled at several lessons, encouraged by Mr. Davis’ frequent praises.
“OK, guys. We have to stick together during this hike unless I specifically say so. We’re going to be looking for a few plants I told you can grow in snow and a few landmarks that can help guide you in case you’re ever left stranded in a winter forest. Let’s go!” Mr. Davis said, and they started walking.
The terrain they went through wasn’t particularly steep or tricky. It looked like a regular hiking trail that many other passersby had used, but it was still exciting.
“I can’t wait until we finish so I can get my first medal,” Evan’s friend, Barton, said. The kids around him agreed.
“But let’s focus on finding the flowers or anything odd in the snow so that Mr. Davis will be more impressed,” Evan suggested, and they all nodded.
Unfortunately, they walked for several hours, and everything seemed blanketed by snow. Mr. Davis showed them a few tricks about starting a fire despite the wet and cold, and Evan listened, fascinated. But he truly wanted to find something unique and prove his worth to the entire group.
Suddenly, a flash of color caught his eye, and off to the side, he thought he saw something purple. But he couldn’t be sure. It was far away from the trail.
“Hey, guys. Cover for me,” he told his friends, who stopped for a second as Evan walked away from the trail into the forest.
“Evan! Evan!” they whisper-yelled, trying not to catch Mr. Davis’ attention. But Evan didn’t listen; he kept going. He also didn’t notice when his friends kept walking with the rest of the team, but he truly wanted to find this flower.
There it was: a lone camellia, growing despite the cold and the thick blanket of iciness. It was terrific, and Evan plucked it to take it for Mr. Davis.
He had been sure he would be able to catch up with the rest of the scouts easily because their leader had taught them so much. However, everything seemed from his new perspective, and even the set trail was almost invisible.
Still, he kept walking… and walking… and running. He ran and called for anyone. But he couldn’t even hear the sounds of his friends in the distance. It was so odd and confusing. Finally, he got tired and sat down on the foot of a nearby tree to catch his breath.
To his utter shock, a dog appeared out of nowhere. At first, Evan thought it might be a wolf, so he tensed and looked around for a weapon. There was nothing nearby that would help him defend against the wild animal. However, the canine got closer, and he saw his tongue lolling and his tail wagging.
“Oh, hey, buddy. You scared me,” he commented, breathless.
He patted the dog, who sat next to him and waited to catch his breath. “You must be a stray, huh? Why are you all the way here?”
The dog only looked at him with the most sincere expression. Now, he wanted to find his way home, not just for himself but for the animal too. Therefore, he stood up and walked again. Nothing.
And unfortunately, it was getting darker and darker and darker. He had a small flashlight in his bag, as mandated by their boy scout training, but it would not last long.
Still, he was sure that someone would find him soon. They must be scouring the forest and calling out for him. “Buddy, let’s wait here and see if we can hear my group calling,” Evan told the dog and sat down near another tree.
It started to get cold, so he followed the advice of Mr. Davis earlier and made a small fire to keep warm. Unfortunately, they heard nothing, and it was getting colder and colder. “Come on, boy,” he told the dog and moved along. Finally, he discovered a small rock formation with a bit of shelter, so he went inside.
Evan built another small fire and sat down near the dog, who curled close to him. Despite his best efforts, the 11-year-old fell asleep. At some point, he heard growling, and his eyes snapped open. The fire was out, and he couldn’t see anything. But he noticed the dog at the entrance of their makeshift shelter.
He was growling at something that Evan couldn’t see that well. But there was another animal growling back. Evan wiped his eyes and tried to see what was out there that had the stray dog so alert and angry. As his eyes settled, he saw what looked like a big fox, and the boy thanked God that he wasn’t alone. He heard the foxes were not dangerous, but this one looked different.
Eventually, the fox left, and the dog stopped growling but stayed aware for a while longer. After a few more minutes, he eased and returned to Evan’s side, providing much-needed warmth. But despite being warmer now, Evan started to cry. He couldn’t believe no one had found him yet.
What if no one had noticed he was gone? What about his friends? Weren’t they looking for him? His mom might be the only one worried for real. Suddenly, he felt the dog’s wet tongue lapping his tears, and he laughed.
“There, there. Thank you. Thank you for protecting me and keeping me company,” he told the dog and hugged it closer.
In his desperation to find his group, Evan had walked farther and farther away from the original trail. So, he was lost in the woods for two days with only the stray dog as company and some food and water he had in his bag.
However, he kept close to the rock shelter after finding it and tried to remain as calm as possible, and luckily, he woke to his mother screaming that second morning in the woods.
“EVAN! EVAN! Oh my god! My baby!” she wailed and rushed into his arms. Evan’s eyes clouded, although he knew other people were with her. But he hugged his mother like never before and apologized for straying away from the group.
“I’m so sorry, Mom!”
When their emotions calmed, Octavia wanted to leave, but Evan explained what the dog had done for him. “He kept me warm, defended me from wild animals, and was my companion. Please, we can’t leave him here, Mom,” the boy pleaded, and his mother was only too happy to say yes.
“Let’s go home quickly,” she said, and they started the long trek toward their starting point two days ago. Evan couldn’t believe how far he had actually strayed.
Once home, he took a warm bath, and the dog never left his side. They had dinner, and his mother prepared a bowl for the animal and kissed his head. “Thank you for keeping my boy safe,” he heard her telling him.
“Can we keep him?” Evan asked when Octavia joined him at the dinner table.
“Oh, that dog is family now,” she nodded. “Pick a name.”
Evan smiled and named him Scout.
What can we learn from this story?
A dog is the best companion a boy will ever have. Children benefit significantly from having pets as they learn responsibility and empathy from them. Additionally, a dog can save a kid’s life.
Part of growing up is learning not to put yourself in dangerous situations. Unfortunately, Evan learned the hard way how easy it is to get lost in the wilderness. He was lucky that Scout appeared.
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